Friday, July 12, 2024

GUEST BLOGGER SERIES: Andres Ramirez “More than Immigration Needs to Be Addressed to Earn the Hispanic Vote”

Once again Ruben Navarette has gotten it wrong…  Read his full article here or better yet don’t, I will summarize it in a single sentence: both Democrats and Republicans are undeserving of the Hispanic vote, because they have taken this voting block for granted.

This is nothing short of nonsense. It has been a difficult year for Democrats, who continue to have to make tough decisions on big issues such as the economy and health care, but there is no ambiguity about which Party has been advocating for the interests of Hispanics.

President Obama and Congressional Leadership remain committed to passing comprehensive immigration reform. It is very likely that if not for the BP oil spill and the totality of the White House’s attention to stopping the flow of oil into the Gulf Coast, there would have been more significant progress on this issue. It is still entirely possible that there will be movement on immigration reform in Congress this summer.

As the administration and Congress have taken some politically difficult steps to rescue the country from a potential second Great Depression, rebuild the economy for the long term and pass health care legislation, they have also worked tirelessly to improve the lives of Hispanics in this country.

In fact, the legislative triumphs on both the economy and health care have been tremendously important not only for the country but for Hispanics in particular.

This Administration and Congress, have extended unemployment and modified eligibility in a way that dramatically effects Hispanics, expanded health insurance for children, which for the first time ever allows states to cover legal immigrant children, signed the Lilly Ledbetter act which ensures that women, including Latinas, receive equal pay, invested heavily in education (which is especially important to Hispanics who are the fastest-growing segment of the public school population and make up nearly one in five public school students), and passed a health care plan which overwhelmingly benefits Hispanics.

People often forget that Hispanics have the highest percentage of uninsured people in the country. There are as many as 9 million, that do not possess health insurance. Under the new health reform measure, Hispanics are eligible for coverage, this includes subsidies for low income families and tax credits so that small businesses can expand health coverage to their employees.

On the subject of Immigration Mr. Navarette, notes that, “Latinos have the right to be disillusioned by the failure of both parties to address the immigration issue.”

This is a common misunderstanding.  Democratic Leaders have put forth a plan, it may not be the plan that Mr. Naverette likes, but certainly it is better than no plan at all, which is what the Republican leadership has proposed. By focusing on enforcement measures, the White House is addressing many of the objections that Republicans have raised before they will come to the negotiating table on immigration.  And yet, Republicans continue to refuse to deal with comprehensive immigration reform

Comprehensive immigration legislation will require many different types of reform, spanning several different agencies and branches of government. Taking the time to position all of the relevant pieces before engaging in what will be a long difficult process, seems not only to be intelligent but necessary to ensure the passage of legislation that truly addresses all of the problems facing our nation’s broken immigration system.

Finally, while immigration is important to Hispanics it is in no way the only important issue for this diverse population of Americans. A recent poll of Hispanics shows that the weak economy, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, low quality of public schools and the lack of access to health care all poll as important issues to Hispanics.  What Mr. Navarette does not seem to understand is that the Hispanic community is not a one issue voting bloc, that they are diverse and passionate about the well being of their country as a whole.

It would seem that any President and Congress, Democrat or Republican, that focuses on the economy, health care and education would be doing what is best for both the country and the Hispanic community. Imagine that.

Andres Ramirez is the Vice President of Hispanic Programs for NDN, a progressive think tank and advocacy organization. Throughout his political and legislative career, Andres has been consulted for his expertise on Latino issues. The above article is an op-ed published in today’s issue of Roll Call. We thank Mr. Ramirez for giving us the privilege to post his article.


  1. steven ybarra says

    So once again Ramirez is speaking his mind.
    this is what happens when you have educated Latinos.
    the real question is what effect the issue of immigration will have on the Senate Race in Nevada where the Fascist tea party folks will make all of this the issue de jour.

    • I agree with Andres Ramirez’ remarks on the Administrations’s and Democratic Party’s efforts and accomplishments that have benefited Latinos in this country.

      I would add that the Arizona Republican Party’s racial profing law in Arizona that targets Latinos for the ills of the current immigration system AND the “no” to comprehensive immigration reform stance of the Congressional Republicans clearly spells out their strategy….divide the electorate along racial lines to regain political power.

      As long as we don’t have a comprehensive solution….Republicans will continue
      to exploit the fear and uncertainity of voters to win back seats in Congress and elsewhere. It becomes obvious that it is against the political self-interest of Republicans to partner with the Democrats on a solution.

      Our one hope is to make the public aware of the Republican’s double-talk
      and poor record on this important matter.