Opinion: Reality Check For Latinos


, , ,

As Congress gears up for another fight to prevent a government shutdown by House Republicans desperate to repeal Obamacare, Latinos face a reality check that President Barack Obama and the Democrats have more important things on their minds.
But that fact is that no matter how righteous immigrantion advocates view their cause, and as much as Latinos claim to desire immigration reform, the paltry voter participation rate of Latinos continues to be unimpressive to either party.
The Pew Research Center reported that while African-Americans and whites had reached parity in their voter participation rates at 64 percent and 61 percent respectively, Latino voter participation lags far behind at 48 percent.
Stephen A. Nuño Ph.D., an NBC Latino contributor where this article first appeared, contends that the number of eligible Latino voters who are not voting has far outpaced the number of Latinos choosing to vote on Election Day. The chart from Pew illustrates that even though Latino voters grew by 1.4 million between 2008 and 2012, Latinos who were eligible to vote but chose not to grew by 2.3 million over the same period.
In total, 12.1 million eligible Latinos did not vote in 2012.
Integrating more Latinos into the political system won’t be easy, and even though African-Americans now outpace whites in voter participation, despite the disparity in wealth and resources, it took decades of community building to do so.
Our reality check is that we cannot continue to punch below our weight and expect the system to give us what we want, even if it is the right thing to do for the country and for Latino families.
The greatest push for immigration reform in political power is coming from businesses, churches and agriculture. All need Latinos in one form or another, but if immigration reform fails, they will continue on as they have in the past.
And Latino families will pay the highest price in social capital, and Obama said as much the other day when he was asked if Latinos could depend on him to overstep Congress should immigration reform fail.
His answer was as much cold as it was frustrated. The president said, “I do get a little worried that advocates of immigration reform start losing heart and immediately think ‘Well– yeah, somehow there’s an out here, if Congress doesn’t act. We’ll just have the president sign something and that’ll take care of it and we won’t have to worry about it.” That won’t happen, he said.
The clear message here is that we are in a structural impasse that neither side is willing to risk higher stakes to break. As Republicans and Democrats harden their stances against each other on broader issues such as Obamacare, the budget, and foreign policy, the only solution is to change the composition of Congress.
Adding 12 million Latino voters would certainly help, and the president and Democrats, who stand to gain the most from this increase in voter participation, aren’t going to let Latinos off easy. Hopefully, reform can move forward on its merits alone, but that hasn’t been working over the last two decades. There is much more hard work to be done. That’s the reality.

To read full story: http://nbclatino.com/2013/09/21/opinion-reality-check-for-latinos/