Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Latino Media Upset with John McCain

Certain members of the Latino press are denouncing John McCain’s refusal to discuss immigration reform…

Far from simply translating the Republican National Convention’s proceedings for their audiences, members of the Spanish-language media are focusing on the issues of greatest importance to Hispanic voters. But that’s no easy task when their viewers’ and listeners’ top concern, immigration reform, is the one issue that presumptive GOP candidate John McCain wants most to avoid.

Although the economy and the war in Iraq are also high priorities for Hispanics, at the top of their agenda is immigration and the Bush administration’s huge increase in immigration raids, which often divide families that have some members who are in the country legally and others who are not, said Samuel Orozco, news and information director for the national Latino public radio network Radio Bilingue. “Those phone calls [from listeners about immigration] are the most dramatic. It’s a humanitarian crisis,” said Orozco, whose radio network broadcasts on six stations in central California and has affiliates in 55 markets nationwide.

“But McCain doesn’t want to talk about it,” a frustrated Orozco said, adding that the Hispanic community has a real sense of urgency about the issue that the McCain campaign does not appear to share. Latinos are particularly troubled by “the atmosphere that has surrounded the debate,” Orozco said. “They see it as an attack on them.”

Pedro Sevcec, anchor of Noticiero Telemundo, the news program that the Spanish-language TV network broadcasts every weekday night, said, “There’s a lot of erosion” in McCain’s support from the Latino community because of the tougher line he has taken on immigration since the primaries. Instead of backing a comprehensive reform package, McCain has adopted party conservatives’ enforcement-first position that no other immigration reforms can be pursued until the borders are secured and the government cracks down on illegal immigrants already in the country.

Little wonder that McCain is doing so poorly with a slice of the electorate that once embraced him for taking the political risk to join with Democratic Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts to champion a proposal that included a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants. “That gained McCain a great deal of goodwill” with Hispanics, Orozco said. “They saw him as a good friend.”

He added, “What I hear now [from listeners] is questions about his current position. Many people see it as a betrayal, and many question his motives for this change of heart.” According to a national survey of registered Hispanic voters earlier this summer by the Pew Hispanic Center, 66 percent of respondents supported Democratic candidate Barack Obama for president compared with 23 percent who favored McCain.

McCain’s campaign is not doing enough on the local level to connect with Hispanics in their language and on their terms, Orozco said. “If they want to be successful in communicating their message to Latino voters, they need to make a significant effort, an additional effort, to reach out to these voters in a culturally competent way.”

National Journal