Republicans underestimated the value of minorities… Who’s the loser now?

One look at the Democratic Convention 2012 and you could tell which party is more inclusive of all minorities

Once upon a time, Mitt Romney had a chance with minorities; the very same chance that President Obama had. Actually, he had a better chance. Latinos, Asians and other minorities closely following immigration issues had grown disappointed with the president. You see, Obama promised comprehensive immigration reform during his first campaign and instead he delivered more deportations during his administration than President Bush.

Republicans haaaaaaad a chance.

But during the course of the campaign, Republicans and Romney seemed increasingly eager to lose millions of votes, the same votes that ended up giving four more years to the incumbent.

What happened and how the campaign managers messed up so badly? Romney for America and the RNC did not correctly analyzed, strategized and launched a marketing and communications campaign customized for each particular segment.

As the Global Editor of Contacto Latino, this is what I experienced:
1. While both sides did almost nothing by way of advertising and true community outreach to minorities; Republicans and Romney seemed particularly bent on doing a terrible job with Latinos whenever they could. Some examples:
a)    Press releases that indicated Spanish on subject line that were, in fact, in English
b)    Bad or inaccurate  translations
c)    No response to op-ed invitations
d)    No response to advertising invitations
e)    Asking to run ads for free (as PR, not advertising)
f)    Little or no inclusion of minorities in campaign leadership
g)    Little or no budget allocated to doing business with the community
h)    Disregard (should I say disdain?) for minority media
2. (Romney) Calling 47% of Americans, millions of which are minorities, parasites.
3. (Romney) Mentioning his Mexican family as leverage to make himself pass as just another Latino.
4. (Romney) Proposing an immigration reform that only took into consideration legal immigration, while basically telling 11 million undocumented immigrants: “Screw you, you now have to self-deport.”
5. (Romney) Telling DREAMers that he will never approve the DREAM Act.
6. (Romney) Saying after the election that President Obama “bought” the minority vote with small tokens of activity, such as the deferred deportation for undocumented youth.
7. Trying to use Obama’s endorsement (was it?) by President Hugo Chavez and Rafael Correa to scare Latino voters into thinking that the USA will become like Venezuela or Ecuador, underestimating Latino’s first-hand knowledge of how a socialist country or dictatorship actually looks and feels.

The Democrats campaign did not do much better in terms of media buys but President Obama benefitted the most of community outreach efforts to get out the vote and from doing something customers appreciate very much when being courted: not being insulted.

The day after election Republicans started changing their tone and their tune, even getting into the Latino serenading bandwagon as they saw that the only way to reclaim the White House is to go through the barrios (I can see them cringing in horror when they came to that realization) and they heard reelected President Obama speaking about immigration reform as top priority.

My message to Republicans, that is if they have not seceded: Better start working ya’ll, four years go faster than you imagine, and if President Obama finally delivers the twice promised immigration reform, you better hope it’s a bipartisan agreement or it’s pa’fuera with this party.

And, yes, when you come knocking at the door of the Latino community, it better not have the look and feel of a 1970s campaign. We are way past being happy with a bad translation and a few words of masticao Spanish. Latinos want and deserve top of the line advertising, marketing and communications. I think this election clearly demonstrated that much.

Chavez says Obama is a good guy, Republicans take advantage

The kiss of death. President Chavez portraying Barack Obama as a friend to his regime could cost Latino votes to the U.S. president. Photo source: Benetton ad

Over the weekend, Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez made a devastating comparison. He said his opponent, Henrique Capriles, is like Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and that U.S. president Barack Obama is a ‘good guy’, hinting his preference and implying a damaging relationship between a virtual dictator and the incumbent U.S. leader.

In a campaign speech Saturday night in Maracaibo, Chavez equated the agenda of his challenger, Henrique Capriles, with that of Romney, saying both men represent the callously selfish capitalist elite.

While the White House and the Obama campaign have remained silent on the subject, the GOP immediately pummeled the president.

“To Hugo Chavez, Barack Obama ‘deep down is a good guy.’ The Venezuelan strongman clearly would prefer to maintain the status quo in the White House. But Chavez’s policies of systematically dismantling democracy in Venezuela and playing nice with America’s enemies abroad need to be vigorously challenged. Mitt Romney will stand tall against Chavez and against all dictators in our hemisphere and around the world,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

This follows an earlier shocking comment by President Obama, who said on a Spanish-language TV interview that President Chávez represents ‘no threat’ to national security.

“Given the way Barack Obama has downplayed the threat posed to the United States by Hugo Chavez, it’s not a surprise that the Venezuelan dictator harbors strong hopes that President Obama wins re-election, going so far as to say that President Obama ‘deep down is a good guy.’ That a close friend and ally of Fidel Castro would voice his strong preference for President Obama is deeply troubling. We urgently need a change of course, and a new President in the White House,” said Rep. Mario Diaz Balart (R-FL).

Latino voters in the U.S. are paying attention more closely than ever to the relationships between this administration and Latin American countries. Implications of some sort of friendship between Obama and Chavez could result in wariness, even repulsion in the case of Venezuelans, and lost votes in a very tight election.

Romney is not making inroads with minorities

Mitt Romney at the NAACP Conference. Photo: Romney campaign

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney only showed up at one large Hispanic conference this summer: NALEO (National Association of Latino Elected Officials). There, he proceeded to unveil his Immigration Reform. Sorry, his legal-only-screw-the-undocumented Immigration Reform. He skipped the LULAC conference and sent a bizarre video to the National Council of La Raza event yesterday. Today, he did show at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) conference, the largest African-American event, but was vigorously booed when he promised to repeal health care reform during his speech.

What was he thinking when he made these decisions? With only four months to go, the aspiring president is openly showing his true colors, and they do not include brown or black.

As a voting Latina I find it hard to listen to this candidate, I keep looking for something that would sound remotely convincing, but even reading through campaign press releases and emails makes me feel utterly powerless and bitterly depressed. I already know where the country is going with Obama, and even though it’s not optimal, not even close, at least there’s no uncomfortable sensation that my president hates me or is plotting to destroy one group to benefit another. There is a performance issue with President Obama, not a Nazi mentality, not an upcoming Apartheid, not a Berlin wall or a special sticker stamped on the foreheads of the undocumented, there is no self-deportation or vetoing of a DREAM Act. There are promises that continue to be unfulfilled by our current president; there’s dragging of feet and a sensation of being taken for a ride, there’s more deportations than in the Bush era and way too many emails asking to chip in $3, but they are not this ominous cloud of Apocalypses coming for minorities vaguely sprinkled on the Republican candidate messages and actions.

Hateful behavior and disrespectful speech does not go unnoticed in ethnic minority communities. And payback time does come at the voting booth –with 36 percent of the electorate, you bet it will.


California, Chicago set the tone on rational handling of undocumented

A highway sign by Brave New Foundation shames anti-immigrant states

It’s happening! Reversing ‘cowboy-style’ anti-immigrant attitudes, laws like the ones enacted in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia, and programs such as Secure Communities, that unfairly target Latinos and Asians and bring about massive deportations of non-criminals and family separation is starting to click throughout the country.

Just this week, in cities like Chicago and states like California, notable advances in Anti-Arizona-like legislation were celebrated.

California is the first state to step up and pass a bill (TRUST Act) instructing police to release undocumented immigrants if they haven’t committed serious crimes — instead of handing them over to the federal government. The bill is a rejection of the federally-imposed Secure Communities, it’s a first for the nation and was sponsored by Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco. The bill goes now to the governor for signature.

“In the wake of the Supreme Court decision on Arizona v. United States, faith, labor, and immigrant rights groups in over 12 cities are coming together to demand local officials take their own initiative to turn the tide on Arizona-style laws and federal deportation programs like “Secure Communities,” says says Sarahi Uribe, National Day Laborer Organizing Network, who is organizing several events across the country to promote legislature such as Ammiano’s.

California had seen an increase in deportations since the launching of S-Comm.

“We congratulate the California Senate on its leadership in passing this legislation, which is a model for states seeking to reject Arizona’s approach of immigration-based policing,” says Jennie Pasquarella, staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, in an ACLU statement.

“Today’s vote signals to the nation that California cannot afford to be another Arizona,” Ammiano said in a statement after the Senate floor vote. “The bill also limits unjust and onerous detentions for deportation in local jails of community members who do not pose a threat to public safety.”

And yesterday in Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the introduction of the “Safe Families Ordinance.”  The ordinance clarifies and extends Chicago’s existing policy of creating a firewall between federal civil immigration law enforcement and the relationship the City of Chicago, and especially the Chicago Police Department, has with its residents.

Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus applauded the mayor’s vision that sets Chicago apart from other jurisdictions, like Arizona.

“The City of Chicago has been at the forefront of U.S. cities in how it handles the reality that thousands upon thousands of immigrants, families and entrepreneurs are seeking opportunity in our city and the reality that the United States has failed to modernize its immigration system for decades. We no longer have a reliable and responsive legal immigration system. Too many individuals are faced with the impossible choice of abandoning their families or going around our legal system because they can find no way through it to meet their responsibilities as spouses and parents. And we give almost no opportunity to immigrants here illegally to take any action that would allow them to earn legal status,” Gutierrez said.

The Congressman also stated the difference is how states and cities are dealing with the consequences of the federal government and the Congress not facing Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

“In Arizona, they deal with this reality by enacting laws to sanction racial profiling and by condoning the irrational acts of cowboys — sometimes ones who happen to be Sheriffs and carry guns — and set them loose on immigrants or anyone who looks or sounds like an immigrant. We know from the experience in Arizona, Alabama, and many other places that this undermines public safety, wastes precious and scarce law enforcement resources and weakens the bonds of trust between police and the communities they serve and protect. In Chicago, we do things a little differently because we put public safety above political stunts, and we put creating a united, cohesive society over trying to draw dividing lines or driving political wedges,” Gutierrez explained.

The ordinance protects everyone because it allows anyone who witnesses a crime, who knows about criminal activity and anyone who wants to make the city safer to come forward and share that information with police. Most importantly, it targets police resources on criminals and threats and minimizes the amount of city resources devoted to holding non-criminals and non-threats, just because they were flagged in a federal database as possibly violating federal civil laws.

Gutierrez also said that instead of dealing with immigrants by using a ‘building a wall and rounding them up’ approach, the country needs to look forward. “We need laws that match the reality that people are here, people are coming, and that every level of society is more efficient if the federal government sets up a functioning legal system to deal with that reality and keeps up with our modern society,” he said.

A growing number of cities have enacted these progressive policies, including Washington DC, Santa Clara, CA, and Cook County, Illinois and more.

In a press conference in 2011, ICE Director John Morton said that that they estimate there are about one million undocumented immigrants with criminal records and that those individuals are their main target for deportation.

Per the rule of prosecutorial discretion, here’s the deal: if of an estimated population of eleven million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., only one million falls under the “criminal” label; that means that ninety percent should not be the targeted or profiled or deported, including about one million youth that would fall under the deferred action policy or the DREAM Act criteria; and, even better, could qualify to legalize their migratory status once they comply with the list of requirements specified in most comprehensive immigration reform bills brought forth in the past.

I think this new mentality involving fairness, practicality and safety is where the country is finally heading. If Congress could say: ‘ampay me salvo y salvo a todos mis Compañeros,’ before Obama’s first term is over, it would be fantastic. If not, deals like the one we are seeing in California will definitely change the tide, set the tone for a grown-up conversation about immigration and eventually open the hand and turn it from a menacing fist to a welcoming gesture.