The 2012 election will be interesting indeed. With so much going on in the country and in the Congress at this point; where do we have time to talk about immigration? When the 2012 campaign ramps up into full gear, there are a few unresolved issues that will surface to the fore as things get going. Pres. Obama will have his hands full. There’s the nagging issue of what to do about immigration and how to appease Latino voters.
The Latino electorate does not trust Republicans and are frustrated with president Obama. In recent weeks president Obama made a trip which turns out to be a campaign stop in Puerto Rico. He’s the first president since Pres. Kennedy to visit the island. He was greeted with much fanfare and exuberance as the partisan Puerto Rican crowd showed President Obama affection and approval.
Pres. Obama has a problem though; there may be some backlash against the president for his in-action on the topic of immigration. The Latino electorate is a voting bloc that continues to become more important in major elections in the United States. It’s not as if Pres. Obama has been sitting on his hands. He’s dealing with three wars, a sluggish economy and that pesky issue of the debt ceiling and recalcitrant Republicans.
To his credit, President Obama did appoint Cecilia Muñoz as the director of intergovernmental affairs at the White House. She is the highest ranking Latino appointment in the Obama administration. In the past week she was interviewed by NPR radio and she defended president Obama on his record with the Latino community. That may not be enough to help the president this go around.
Latinos know all too well that Republicans have voiced very hateful and harsh rhetoric opposing immigration reform. This has been interpreted by the Latino electorate as Republicans being anti-Latino. Already there’s growing controversy over the strict identification requirements for the upcoming 2012 election. Many critics of this move by Republicans claim that it will have an adverse impact on people of color and the poor being able to vote in 2012. The Republicans know they are in trouble with the Latino voters. It’s too late for them to salvage all the damage that has been done with all the hostile rhetoric. So what do they do, they are launching a very invasive qualification process for the right to vote in 2012.
Ironically, of all the Latino freshmen members who were voted into Congress in 2010, every last one of them are Republican; Go figure. Typically Cuban-Americans, who are mostly located in the state of Florida, have traditionally voted Republican. Latinos from Mexico and Central America on the other hand, typically vote Democrat.
President Obama on Monday addressed La Raza, he asked the crowd to be patient and to work with him. From all the research we’ve gathered here at Recovering Republican it appears that the majority of Latinos want desperately to vote for President Obama, but are very frustrated. The Latino electorate is a constituency that neither side can continue to ignore. In 2012, if enough Latino’s turnout and vote, there participation could be a game changer and decide the presidency.
Latinos are just as concerned about unemployment and lack of jobs in the community. Currently the unemployment rate in the Latino community is 11.6%, in the African-American community it’s 16%; which is nearly at depression era levels.
Arnoldo Torres, a political consultant on Latino issues, stated that unless President Obama takes more decisive action on the issue of immigration, this may create enough apathy that would cause Latinos not to participate in 2012. President Obama is at a crossroads, if he can find a way to be more active and reach out to this growing electorate this only insures his chances at reelection. If Pres. Obama can pull this off, and if the economy improves, it’s very likely that he will win reelection.