On the Immigration Issue, Latinos Have An Abusive Relationship With The Democratic Party

Chamba SanchezBy Chamba SanchezApril 4, 2023
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Looming elections on the Horizons again – Democrats and President Biden are gearing up for reelection. Sadly, Latinos voters know well what Democrats will do next. As expected, Democrats would move either to the center or even to the right of the political spectrum on the issue of immigration. They quickly forget about the promises made to Latino voters and go from embracing immigration reform to ruthless enforcement. 

In many articles recently published, U.S. Democratic Senators pleaded with President Biden not to go back to former President Trump’s inhumane policies against migrants at the border. It has been reported that President Biden is seriously considering returning to President Trump’s draconian immigration policies. Immigrant advocates are appalled and are asking President Biden, the so-called friend of Latinos, to keep his central campaign promise of being more compassionate to migrants at the border.

This has been the story as to why immigration is never resolved. There is always the next election where Democrats refuse to spend political capital. No courage or decisiveness to solve this complex problem.

It would not be hyperbole to say that Latinos have lost the power of their votes. The Democratic Party take them for granted, and Republicans write them off. Democrats have figured Latinos out and concluded that many Latinos would never vote for crazy-right-wing xenophobic Republicans. So Latinos don’t have a place to go but to continue voting for them. 

Latinos in this country must think critically about finding ways to be more effective politically. Latinos are the largest ethnic group in the United States, and their voices need to be heard. There are roughly 65 million Latinos, and around 31 million of them are eligible to participate in their communities civic affairs by voting.

Every governmental or private research institution tells us that Latinos’ economic output or GDP is around $3 trillion, and their purchasing power is about $2 trillion. Latinos need to find visionary and transformative leaders among themselves and use their economic power and numbers in politics to advance their interests. 

It is not a secret that most Latinos support the Democratic Party. It is also not a secret how democratic leaders blatantly ignored their needs. Democrat politicians also exploit Latinos’ fears of perceived Republican racism. Surely, there is some of that, but the Democrats’ strategy is more like, you don’t need to vote for me but against them. So there is no incentive for democrats to offer policy proposals as they do for African Americans and other groups that support them. So why do Latinos keep voting for Democrats? This is an honest conversation that needs to take place as soon as possible.

It is also true that Latinos are very diverse. Many Latinos vigorously reject the analogy of “the Latino giant is now awake” because it assumes that Latinos are a single-minded voting block. Latinos are hardly a monolithic group. They also vote for Republicans, and the percentage of Latinos voting for Republicans increased while Trump was in the White House. Intriguingly, Republican leaders have no qualms about offending Latinos or proposing policies that are adverse to their interests.  

We all remember in 2015 when presidential candidate Trump glided down the escalator, calling Mexican immigrants “drug dealers.” We also remember Barack Obama deporting 8,000 to 10,000 hard-working immigrants daily while citing the biblical scriptures for welcoming strangers. Leaders from both major political parties offend Latinos with impunity.

The Democratic Party used to confront working-class issues more aggressively than today. Elected Democratic politicians appropriated more social spending for the poor, including education. But all that changed in 1992 after Bill Clinton became President.

Bill Clinton’s Machiavellian ways to gain power led his party in the 1990s. Democrats adopted the “triangulation” approach. It was a cynical political strategy to attract new voters.

Bill Clinton and the Democrats would embrace whatever was popular. If an extreme conservative policy proposal were popular, they would embrace it. Case in point: “The era of big government is over,” Bill Clinton told Democrats as President. That was a conservative position that Ronald Reagan articulated in the 1980s in which he told the country the “government was the problem.” 

This “triangulation” also opened the gateway for more conservative public safety policies such as “The Crime Bill” in 1994 that restructured the criminal justice system. This crime bill embraced by Democrats eventually led to mass incarceration for blacks and Latinos. Using this approach, Bill Clinton also radically reformed the welfare assistance program for many poor people forcing many people of color to lose their food stamps.

For a democracy to function, Latino voters must be able to politically organize and develop a culture of accountability from those they support for political offices. They will continue to be ignored or disillusioned every election cycle if they don’t find ways to use their economic power and political numbers more effectively.

Latinos need to organize like African Americans, Jews, or other groups do and hold any political leader accountable for fulfilling their promises to our community.

Thank you for reading.

Chamba Sanchez
Lecturer of Politics at LACCD

Photo Credit: Bigstock photo used for this piece.














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