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Live from Netroots Nation: Immigration and the Power of the Latino Vote

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Morning, folks.  Liveblogging this morning from Netroots Nation where our panel, Immigration and the Power of the Latino Vote: Why Harry Reid Came Back and Alex Sink Sunk has just started.  On stage is Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL), Markos Moulitsas from Daily Kos, and Paco Fabian from Change to Win (substituting for Eliseo Medina from SEIU, who was unable to make it to Minneapolis after his flight was cancelled).  Moderating is our own Adam Luna.

10:52 AM: You can watch the livestream here

10:53 AM, Rep. Gutierrez on stage: Obama can’t legalize DREAMers, but he can set them aside when it comes to deportation.  He can give them work permits.  And he should let governors withdraw from Secure Communities, and reform it.  Lastly, he can use the executive authority Congress has conferred upon him to change it so that when an undocumented immigrant marries a U.S. citizen, they don’t have to go to Ciudad Juarez to pick up legal papers.

10:56 AM Gutierrez: If you can prove extreme hardship, you don’t have to be barred from the country for ten years (if you are deported).  When you have to raise children by yourself without the help of your wife or husband, that’s extreme hardship.

11 AM: Markos has just taken the stage, says immigration is the issue with the most consensus out there.  And still, we can’t do anything about it.  Something else is going on, because it’s not business interests standing in the way.  As far as I can see, it’s really an issue of bigotry and xenophobia.

11:02 AM Markos: Utah is not a good solution, because employers have all the power.  But it’s a solution not based on hate.  It’s a solution based on economic exploitation, but it’s not based on hate.

11:03 AM Markos: The DREAM Act involves kids being penalized, just because.  There’s no policy reason.  That’s an issue of hatred, and as long as the Tea Party is ascendant, we can’t do anything about it.  Maybe when they get Michelle Bachmann nominated.  Otherwise we’re not going to get 60 votes on it anytime soon.

11:05 AM Paco Fabian: I’d like to talk about the media.  The role that media plays in immigration is really important.  Telemundo and Univision were the only channels showing the DREAM Act vote live.  On the other hand we have the English language media, which treats immigration differently.  They’re still using the B-roll where a guy from the 1980s is crossing the border.  I think we’ve all seen candidates like Meg Whitman and others say one thing in English and another in Spanish.

11:08 AM Adam Luna: Is it responsible for progressives to be calling out Obama and other leaders just as we’re heading into an election?

11:09 AM Rep. Gutierrez: People who care about each other give them good advice.  It’s not because we want to be mean, or because we don’t care about them.

I think immigration is the civil rights issue of the moment for Latinos.  When women and African-Americans went out to fight for their rights, they did it independently from the fate of political parties.  Ultimately, you know something?  It’ll work out for the politicians, if they keep the promises they made to the people.

11:13 AM Markos: Obama said, when he was a candidate, that he wasn’t going to be one of those politicians who made empty promises to people.  But it’s been three years, and nothing’s happened.  And suddenly he announces he’s running for reelection, and DREAM Act is all over the place again.  How can people help being cynical?

11:18 AM Rep. Gutierrez: We have to be straight with our friends, because we put them there.

11:19 AM Adam Luna: What is change going to look like?

11:20 AM Markos: I had a love-hate-love-hate-hate-hate relationship with Harry Reid.  But had our base sit it out, Harry Reid would’ve lost.  But they turned out for him, because he’d stopped worrying about politics, and he was calling it like it is.

11:23 AM Paco Fabian: We need to make this bigger.  Twenty thousand people in the streets is great, but it can’t just be the Latino community asking for relief for the Latino community.  We need more people to be involved in this.

11:24 AM Markos: This is mainstream now.

11:25 AM Rep. Gutierrez: For the first time in the polls, immigration is the most important issue for Latinos in the polls.  So we need to continue doing what we’re doing.

11:26 AM Adam Luna: This sucks, but we have to close.  (An earlier plenary ended late.)  Here’s a roadmap of what’s ahead: the immigration fight continues and the ambivalence of Democrats continues.  We’re going to have to hold them accountable for issues that galvanize voters and are better for everyone.