How to attract Latinos? Stop being condescending and work on real solutions


There was only one presidential hopeful at the GOP Tea Party Debate on Monday, September 12, that when asked about Latinos and immigration said something that made me say: “That’s right… and that’s the one thing no one talks about.”

No, it was not Rick Perry and it was not amnesty.

While Rick Santorum talked about his Italian roots and pleaded with the audience to make the United States the melting pot it ought to be, and not the salad bowl it is, which gave away his lack of handling of diversity and inclusion issues; Michele Bachmann also went down memory lane and said that there was nothing wrong with the system in the sixties and that it all faltered because liberals took over, which gave away her lack of knowledge regarding the deep rooted issues within this country’s immigration system.

Perry did not do much better. His contenders gave him heat and labeled his in-state tuition offer to undocumented students as “amnesty”, which is not. And while he calls it the Texas DREAM Act, which is not the same as the DREAM Act (not even close). He explained it away as any cold-blooded capitalist would. He said he was okay with taking the money and making something of these students (mind you, in-state-tuition does not mean free), no matter what their last name is.

What Perry did not say is that after graduating, there is no place to go for the new professionals. They go in undocumented and come out, well, still undocumented, but minus $40K (or more); with a degree, but without employment in their field of choosing or a salary that will help pay the four-year tuition they just bought. How is this helpful? It helps only if the DREAM Act (the real one) actually passes and they can bring up that degree as proof of compliance with the criteria set for undocumented youth in that (non-existent today) bill to apply for legal residence.

One more question, though: how do the students get to work toward the citizenship Perry was referring to when that path is not there? Was that word in there to attract, or misguide, the Latino voters?

Mitt Romney said that Latino voters did not come to this country for a hand out but for opportunity, which was vague and condescending but okay. He went downhill after that because the only solutions he offered was to enforce the law, build a fence, get rid of in-state tuition, sanctuary cities or driver’s licenses for the undocumented.

In other words: same rhetoric as always, same words, same posturing, no real fix. And, no, apartheid does not count as a solution.

So, who was the only GOP candidate that answered the attracting Latino voters/fixing immigration combo question (God only knows why it’s always this strange combo) in a way that provided a real solution?

It was Jon Huntsman.

In his response Huntsman pointed to one very real, very fixable, problem: the huge clog in the processing of visas, the dark hole where law-abiding individuals wait for a visa to become available, sometimes their entire lives, and become “undocumented while processing”.

“When are we going to have an honest conversation about the root causes of this problem? We can’t process people. The H1B visa process is broken. We need to bring in brain power to shore up our economic might. We need to bring in foreign capital to raise up real estate prices as well. We need to fix Homeland Security,” Huntsman said.

Point for the only one who was not condescending, did not went to yesteryear for a response, did not talked about keeping students money and calling it a day… Jon Huntsman: you are one astute Republican, sir.

Categories: NGLC Conference

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