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.

Republicans offer no choices when it comes to immigration, says Senator Menendez

Senator Menendez at the Latino Business Summit, 2011. Photo: Office of Sen. Menendez

I could hear the frustration in Senator Menendez’s voice when we spoke on the phone.

“Why should we vote for Barack Obama? Why should we give him another chance?” I asked.

“When the Latino community look at their choices for next year’s presidential election, and compare their choices side by side, they’ll see that there’s a difference between the two parties in critical ways they can relate to in an every day fashion,” was Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) answer.

In an interview with Contacto Latino, the Senator said that the electorate needs to compare and see who is been trying to create jobs and put people back to work. Who has been doing everything possible to get America moving and how the Republicans in Congress have stopped every single proposal coming from President Obama or Democrats in Congress.

Menendez also said the electorate needs to remember that it is the Democrats who have been promoting access to Pell Grants and student loans.

Regarding immigration, an important subject among Latinos and employers of a variety of industries, he said that there is no GOP presidential hopeful who will support Comprehensive Immigration reform. “Everything they propose is punitive in nature,” Senator Menendez said.

Not much will happen until after the election cycle is over
One thing Senator Menendez knows for sure is that Comprehensive Immigration Reform bills, like the one he and others presented this year; as well as the DREAM Act, also re-introduced this year with the senator’s support, cannot move without bipartisan support. “Even with all the 53 Democrat Senators supporting a bill, it takes 60 votes to overcome filibusters,” the Senator pointed out.

In regards to immigration, Senator Menendez does not see anything happening until after the 2012 elections. “The president cannot make the laws on his own, but has begun to use executive powers to offer relief, such as in the cases when the person facing deportation has no criminal records or has deep relationships with U.S. citizens,” he said.

Menendez and other representatives and senators are also asking the president to reconsider how the law currently approaches the issue of 5 and 10 year bar (no entry) so that people can adjust their immigration status without being forced to leave the U.S. for several years –this would be the case, for example, of someone who crossed or stayed illegally in the country and later marries an American citizen. If the individual wants to “fix” his situation, he will need to leave the country and will have the opportunity to take care of it only after 10 or 5 years and from his country of origin.

Democrats in Congress are also working on extending humanitarian parole to those who have a relationship with a citizen, have American born children, and have ties to the community.

The Morton Memo is out there and outlines deportation’s high and low prioritiesThe problem now is to get jurisdictions to follow the letter of this memo,” he explained regarding the number of complaints from activists and grassroots organizations who continue to share local cases illustrating ongoing deportation stories of immigrants without a criminal record, or who would be eligible under a DREAM Act criteria, and abusive police tactics.

The other issue the senator recognizes that will need to be tackled in a close future is that once relief is offered and the deportation case is closed, the individual is not offered a legal status for permanent residency or employment; and there’s no guarantee a new deportation case will not be opened in the future.

Is this a bad time to handle immigration?
Many Americans say this is not the time to deal with immigration reform. Senator Menendez says that it is because of the economy that it is a good time to do exactly that.

The senator from New Jersey explains that there are several sectors of the economy, on the high and low ends, that cannot find workers that would do the job: agriculture, poultry, hotel, seafood are some of the industries already expressing they cannot fill vacancies. There are also more than three million jobs available in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Menendez says that many of these jobs provide the foundation for higher paying employees who would benefit from keeping these industries open for business. He also explains that by keeping people from being exploited and working for lower wages, everybody would benefit. Add to that the taxes that fully registered employees would bring into the economy, and you have several reasons to be for comprehensive immigration reform, says Menendez.

“People have a choice. But I would be scared of candidates that do not believe in comprehensive immigration reform. Scared of people who believe there’s no role for the government in helping create jobs and be able to get a college education. These are critical values, and when you compare side by side you can see which party is a better choice,” says Senator Menendez.