As November approaches, it is becoming ever clearer that President Obama’s decision to delay executive action for immigrants is having serious electoral consequences. In no less than three news articles from today, the story from the ground is that immigration reform matters — and Latino voters’ disenchantment with both parties is not helping those who are trying to give Latinos a reason to go to the polls.
After all, a Gallup poll recently found that Obama’s approval numbers among Latinos have seriously dropped, a decline that may “reflect unfulfilled promises that Obama made during the campaign about immigration reform.” Meanwhile, a Pew Research Center survey found that about half of Hispanic Democrats said their party was not doing a good enough job representing their views on immigration, and 4o% said the party was not willing enough to grant legal status for the undocumented.
From today’s clips, check out this Washington Post story from Ed O’Keefe, laying the groundwork for how organizers in key battleground states like Colorado are finding it increasingly harder to register Latinos, thanks to the President’s inaction:
Less than a month after President Obama announced he would delay using his executive authority to reform immigration laws, there is evidence that the decision is doing exactly what he hoped to avoid: hurting Democrats.
Activists in key states say it is increasingly difficult to register would-be Latino voters who would vote for Democrats because of unhappiness over the decision. Poll numbers for Obama and Democrats have also dropped farther among Hispanics than the population at large. One group has even launched a campaign against four Democratic senators who backed a GOP proposal to bar Obama from taking any executive action on immigration.
“The president has not helped us,” said activist Leo Murietta, 28, who is working to register Latino voters in Colorado for Mi Familia Vota. “People are disappointed. They wanted action, they wanted activity, they wanted movement.”
With so many congressional and gubernatorial candidates locked in close races this year, Democrats can’t afford signs of complacency or sagging support. But Murietta and others believe that only action — not promises of action — will help spur increased turnout among Hispanics with just five weeks until Election Day.
A second Washington Post piece from Tina Griego includes profiles of individual organizers who are fed up with the sense that Democrats have been fooling them:
Miriam “Mimi” Madrid’s…is an LGBTQ activist and works as a community organizer. She’s not wired for surrender.
But Madrid is also not the euphoric 20-year old who sailed out of a precinct in Denver, six years ago after casting her first ballot for president of the United States. She is no longer the young woman who believed Obama, as a historic figure with roots in community organizing, would unify a country and hold the Democratic Party accountable to its promises.
The years have given rise to the kind of indignation that comes from believing oneself repeatedly misled when it comes to war, to corporate power – don’t get her started on Monsanto – and to immigration reform. Especially immigration reform.
“That si, se puede, si, se puede, there was so much hope,” she says “But now I’m afraid Obama will leave his presidency with ‘yes, we can’ becoming no se pudo. No, we couldn’t.”
In the Latino community, Madrid’s frustration is common.
Also check out this great quote from Ricardo Martinez, a founder of Padres Unidos, a nonprofit in Denver that works with immigrant families. Groups in Colorado are busy organizing in marquee races like Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO)’s bid to keep his House seat, and Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO)’s campaign to win a Senate seat. But Latino disillusionment is not helping turnout efforts, and Martinez suggests that this effect will have consequences long after the present day:
There are folks really seriously thinking of sitting out this election. The political calculation is that Latinos will vote Democratic and that mid-term elections are low-turnout elections anyway, but for how long can the party make that calculation? I think what’s always missing from these political conversations are the children of parents who have been deported, the children who are U.S. citizens. One day they will reaching voting age, if they haven’t already, and they are not going to forget who deported their parents, their sisters, brothers, uncles and cousins.
Finally, in Florida, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL)’s reelection campaign against Republican challenger Carlos Curbelo has become in large part about immigration, thanks to the district’s significant Latino population. And in such a district, Obama’s delay on executive action has become a weapon for Republicans against Garcia:
Curbelo called out the president for being “unwilling to invest political capital to achieve immigration reform.”
“For him, it is more important to protect the political interests of vulnerable Democrats like Joe Garcia,” Curbelo said.
Garcia — who has been an outspoken advocate for immigration reform and recently organized this letter calling on Obama to take action on immigration in order to grow the economy — fired back:
Garcia contends Curbelo embraces reforms only when they’re popular and won’t be able to stand up to GOP leaders if they continue to block them.
He points to Curbelo’s comment that he was “very satisfied” with the House majority’s efforts. That was in February, shortly after Speaker John Boehner outlined immigration policy principles that included a path to citizenship. Boehner then backtracked after some in his caucus rebelled. In August, Curbelo said House Republicans should sue Obama if he takes far-reaching executive action.
“This is about him wanting to have it all ways,” Garcia said. “He was for comprehensive immigration reform until he was for Boehner. Then he was for suing the president. Then he attacked me when the president didn’t do executive action.”