Jan 30, 2013

Yesterday, President Obama presented his immigration reform proposal in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Towards the end of his first term, the President gave an executive order that helps "Dreamers" stay in the country for a couple of years without the threat of deportation.  Doing something to help immigrants supposedly bodes well for the Latino population.  Although they are not the only immigrants in this country, Latinos have become the face of immigration, particularly illegal immigration.  On the federal level, policy that makes life easier and provides a path to citizenship seems to be the way to win the Latino vote.  I know that is what the GOP is hoping for. 

In any case, Latinos are getting alot of political attention and understandably so.  They are the fastest growing population in the country.  President Obama won more than 70% of the Latino vote and his push for immigration reform, to some, seems to be his gratitude for their vote.  Now the President  received 95% of the African American vote and also, to some, blacks are not getting anything in return.  So my question is are blacks being ignored by the President?

Personally, I have a hard time defining what is uniquely a black issue.  Yes there are some areas such as unemployment where blacks are disproportionally affected.  Thus, there may be some targeted efforts to decrease unemployment for the black community.  But unemployment is not a black issue. As  I mentioned earlier, Latinos have become the face of the immigration debate.  But immigration is not solely a Latino issue.  Because the southern border is the border of concern, yes Mexicans may be affected more by immigration policy.  Yet the policy affects all that come to this country.  So I wish that we would stop putting racial labels on policy.  These labels allow for pundits, parties, and politicians to pit groups against each other. 

During the 2012 presidential campaign, I remember a Super-PAC ad with a black man complaining about immigrants taking jobs away from him.  I remember rolling my eyes at the television because it was a divisive attempt to chip away at the President's support.  It clearly did not work for this last election.  But seeds are still being sown for blacks to have contempt for latinos.  My hope is that this would not happen.  Not because the two groups are supposed to be all warm and fuzzy with each other.  Rather that we do not fall prey to deceptive tactics.  This morning when I got in my car I heard the tail-end of Rev. Al Sharpton's comments on the Tom Joyner Morning Show on this very topic.  He cautioned listeners not to yield to the divide and conquer strategy and that immigration is not soley a Latino issue.  I happen to agree with him.  Also as the President remarked yesterday, immigration reform has been on the table for decades and like healthcare reform the moment is now to finally take it on.  I wholeheartedly believe that the President does not prefer one group over the other.  This isn't mere gratitude for voting for him.  The momentum to take it on has finally presented itself.  I am a supporter of the President and want him to be successful, but I will never say that there are no legitimate gripes with the President because there are.  I just do not want us to be overtaken by these divide and conquer tactics.


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