In 2008, Latinos delivered a whopping two thirds of their vote to the candidate of Hope and Change, to Barack Obama, who opposed the building of border walls who spoke out against the politics of demonizing immigrants, and who promised a clear path to citizenship for millions living in the shadows. The well-funded layer of corporate and Democratic Party Latino leaders whose careers and condo payments depend on it hope to turn out a massive Latino vote for Obama in 2012. But the tide may be against them.
Despite concrete promises and lofty rhetoric the Obama administration has built and extended border walls, massively increased the numbers of workplace audits and raids at firms suspected of hiring the undocumented. President Obama has declared that states like his home Illinois can no longer opt out of the so-called Secure Communities program, and must send fingerprints and identifying data on everybody they arrest to the feds to be checked against immigration databases. The First Black President has deported an all time high of more than 1 million immigrants since taking office in 2009, and tens of thousands on any given day more await similar fates in his vast, and often privatized, network of immigration prisons and jails.
Unlike black Americans, who can still get misty-eyed at the sight of Michelle Obama and her pretty kids walking across the White House lawn to the Marine helicopter, Latinos have a much harder time fooling themselves about the fundamental nature of the Obama presidency. In that community, almost everybody has recent immigrants in the immediate family or among the in-laws, recent immigrants living downstairs or across the street, and more recent immigrants among the people they work, worship or go to school with.
Thus nearly everybody has neighbors, relatives and co-workers who've been stopped for traffic offenses or arrested for misdemeanors and disappeared into the maze of immigration detention. Hundreds of thousands know people at workplaces that have been audited by ICE and the bosses forced to fire undocumented employees, people whose workplaces were raided, and employees arrested on the job. Thousands have taken in children of parents facing deportation, and hundreds of thousands actually know the names and faces of family members, co-workers, neighbors and friends whose families are being cruelly separated.
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in a National Day of Action on Tuesday, August 16 hundreds of immigrants and citizens delivered thousands of petitions demanding an end to the Secure Communities Program at Democratic party offices in Houston, Atlanta, Charlotte and Miami, and Barack Obama's campaign headquarters in Chicago.
“If the President continues to alienate Latino voters he will lose the election, plain and simple," said Carlos Roa from Presente.org, a national online advocacy group that seeks to empower Latinos nationwide. " He cannot expect Latino voters and an entire community to simply stand by and watch...”
The threat is not an idle one. Can corporate funded and Democratic Party Latino leaders bring out a huge vote for Obama a second time, despite his abominable record on immigration? I wouldn't bet on it.