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.

La generación DREAMer soñará ahora a todo color

Si es que existiese un premio a la perseverancia, de seguro que me gustaría entregárselo a los jóvenes del movimiento DREAM, un coro de chicos y chicas que ha ido creciendo durante esta última década de altos y bajos, de esperanzas y desaliento para lo que conocemos como el DREAM Act.

Muchos de ellos se fueron enterando en su adolescencia, la época en que los sueños van tomando forma, que sus padres los trajeron a Estados Unidos, en estado legal de indocumentados, cuando eran niños.

Imagínate el choque de enterarte que no eres igual que tus amigos, que lo que ellos pueden hacer, manejar, ir a la universidad, trabajar, tú no lo puedes hacer porque a pesar de que todo en tu historia hasta aquel fatídico instante te dice que tú eres tan americano como el pastel de manzana, de pronto te enteras que lo tuyo no es, digamos, ‘valido’, ante los ojos de la ley, tu ciudad, tu escuela, y hasta tus propios amigos.

Es como si de la noche a la mañana hubieras adquirido una enfermedad contagiosa y letal y hubieses perdido todo, absolutamente todo lo que reconoces como real y tuyo. Y con ello, con aquel dictamen que a muchos les llega durante un momento inocuo, como una conversación con un policía porque fuiste muy rápido o muy lento o no te estacionaste adecuadamente, todos los sueños, toda tu vida se va en un suspiro.

Sería suficiente para que muchos de nosotros, los adultos, los grandes, nos diéramos por vencidos. Abatidos, recogeríamos nuestras piltrafas y nos iríamos en medio de la noche; agazapados en las sombras de la vergüenza algunos nos regresaríamos a nuestros países, dejaríamos que aquellos que legislan con odio ganasen.

Pero no para los DREAMers. Para ellos cada desilusión se ha convertido en un grito de guerra, un murmullo de perseverancia, un arrullo de paciencia. Con cada DREAM Act que no ha sobrevivido un Congreso desalmado, más y más jóvenes se han unido a este movimiento. Guagüitas que nos han enseñado que aun cuando pierdes ganas, porque los pasos andados no se desandan.

Estos son jóvenes, casi niños, que han madurado de la noche a la mañana y han tomado un puesto de gran responsabilidad en el espacio político, son los que han empujado sus ideales con una fuerza que solo puedes tener cuando sabes que estás en lo cierto, desafiando las voces hostiles con entereza, sufriendo castigo y arriesgando con cada manifestación aquello a lo cual le temen más que a nada, deportación.

Apostaron en su educación y en que en algún momento las oportunidades por fin se presentarían para ellos. Y para más de un millón, a partir del 15 de agosto, día en que podrán empezar a solicitar protección de deportación y permiso de trabajo a través de la nueva política de acción diferida, los sueños en sombras borrosas de destinos futuros se convertirán en realidades a color.

A la generación DREAMer les debemos un aplauso y más, mucho más, porque nos han enseñado que con miedo no se logra nada pero que los sueños, aun los sueños que parecen imposibles, están al alcance de aquellos que los persiguen con valentía, perseverancia, paciencia y unidad.

Celebren el 15 de agosto, muchachos, que se lo tienen bien merecido. Y el 16, regresen a hacer lo que hacen mejor que nadie: a enseñarle a los grandes cómo se hace, cómo se sueña en colores vívidos, cuando de verdad tienes ganas.

Across the USA, DREAMers prepare to be free

Since June 15, undocumented youth across the country, or DREAMers, as we’ve come to known them as eligible to participate of a future DREAM Act, started relishing a short-term opportunity of becoming free to be, to participate and work, as beneficiaries of the latest in a roller coaster of maybe’s in the last four years, the deferred action policy.

This new policy, which will start taking applications August 15, offers to defer a potential deportation and stabilize the youth’s life for two years. It includes employment authorization.

Benny Veliz, who became one of the first faces of the DREAMer movement when her story made national news in 2009, finally got her deportation charges dropped last year and although she’s been protected from deportation, Benny has been in an immigrants’ limbo ever since and could be deported, even after being stopped for a minor driving infraction.

Benny says that she will definitely apply this Monday.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has already made it clear there will be no DREAM Act if he becomes president and has declared he will have a ‘permanent solution’ to the problem of undocumented immigration. As a matter of fact, he’s said striking down deferred action policy will be one of the first things he’ll do as president.

President Obama has continued to play a carrot and stick number, and stated that he won’t give up on immigration reform as long as he is president. Detractors have pointed out that if low priority enforcement is not taking place, why would deferred action be any different.

Still, DREAMers remained positive that this will at least provide breathing room until a true immigration reform takes place.

Lizardo Buleje, who recently graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and faced an uncertain future when he woke up on the morning of June 15th, was brimming with excitement and anticipation that afternoon.

“This morning’s Breaking News has been the best news I have received in years. Finally, the hard work of all Dreamers has paid off, but this is only the beginning, this is only the first step. Tonight, Dreamers are united again and will be celebrating the amazing news; however, tomorrow is time for us to go out and show the United States and the world that this was NOT a mistake. We are going to finish school (in my case, my Master’s Degree), get jobs, become professionals, and help our home and beloved country, the United States, succeed,” said Buleje after hearing the news.

Buleje was part of a group of undocumented youth who went on a hunger strike to demonstrate for the DREAM Act a couple of years ago. He’s now counting the hours to August 15th and will be applying to get a fresh and more exciting start in life as a free man.

On your marks, get ready, go
Around the country, more than a million young undocumented have a file filled with documents they’ll be ready and excited to turn in on Monday, their life in the United States documented through school and college transcripts, record of vaccinations, driver’s license, passport, and other papers. They’ll be more than happy to pay the fee of $465 in exchange for coming out of the shadows.

“When a million or more young immigrants begin signing up for deferred action on August 15, it will be hard to hold back the tears.  You cannot overstate how important this moment will be in immigrant communities and Latino neighborhoods across the country. The excitement is electric and will not be dampened by House and Senate Republicans threatening to sue the President or take other actions to squelch young people’s dreams,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case by case basis:

  1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum (June 15, 2012);
  3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Are not above the age of thirty.

Organizations across the USA have been holding seminars, conference calls and webinars to instruct the potential beneficiaries as to how the process will work and what do they need to apply. Many will congregate this Monday to celebrate the date and start filing applications.

Rep. Gutierrez, with the help of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, will hold a DREAM Relief Day event in Chicago on August 15. The event will take place at the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, from 9:00 am to 2 pm. At that event, Gutierrez will be joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Dick Durbin, community organizations and volunteers and they expect over 1,000 eligible young people to come forward to get informed about the application process and to sign-up.

Rep. Gutierrez also said that they know of at least 20 events planned at different points in the country and that on August 2nd 20 Members of Congress pledged to help young immigrants receive clear and accurate information and get them signed up if they qualify.

For more info on the event and to check if you qualify for deferred action policy, click here.

To check the listing of events held for DREAMers on or about August 15 compiled by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement click here.


Video: Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez takes the floor of Congress to explain the new policy and send a special message to DREAMers

Who benefits from the Deferred Action Policy?
A report by the Immigration Policy Center sheds light over who will benefit.

There are approximately 1.4 million immigrants currently in the United States who might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative, either now or when they are older. Roughly 936,930 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 might immediately meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative. They comprise 69 percent of all potential beneficiaries. Approximately 426,330 immigrants between the ages of 5 and 14 might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative at some point in the future if the initiative remains in place. They comprise 31 percent of all potential beneficiaries.

The IPC also stated that most DREAMers are Mexican and are found in big immigrant-receiving states with large unauthorized populations, such as California and Texas. Yet DREAMers, IPC recognized, are also found in virtually every state, and significant numbers are non-Mexicans who hail from all corners of the globe.

 

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.