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Racism isn't just a GOP problem

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 (CNN) -- There are two groups of Republicans: Those who pander to nativists by encouraging anti-Latino prejudice and exploiting the fear and anxiety that come from changing demographics, and those who tolerate the first group.

Both groups are spoiling the Grand Old Party. And they're making life too easy for Democrats, who -- while never particularly good at addressing the needs and concerns of Latino voters -- have lately excelled in the neglect department. The more Latinos are antagonized by Republicans, the more they get ignored by Democrats.

Ain't that swell? The result for America's largest minority is a political paradox, where the media insists this community has tremendous power while those of us within the community know the opposite is true. We're not getting stronger. We're getting weaker.

Such is the misfortune of today's Latino voter, and it's the goal of Democrats to bring it up. When you don't have much to offer, you cling to what little you have -- even if it's just a bumper sticker slogan: "Vote Democrat. Because we're not as bad as Republicans."

Look at what happened with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California and Rep. Steve Israel, D-New York, when he made remarks about Republicans and racism on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.

And recently, Pelosi was asked by reporters if she thought race factors into how Republicans deal with the Obama administration.

Pivoting to a hot topic, Pelosi responded: "I think race has something to do with the fact that they're not bringing up an immigration bill."

First, that took chutzpah. This is the same Nancy Pelosi who, when she wielded the gavel from 2007 to 2009, deliberately kept immigration off the congressional agenda. This was no secret. Her top lieutenant at the time, Rep. Rahm Emanuel, who talked openly about his reluctance to engage the issue, went so far as to label immigration the "third rail" of American politics.

Did the Democrats' failure to bring up immigration during the two years they controlled both houses of Congress also have something to do with race?

It seems only fair to ask, given what Pelosi said about the GOP. The real reason Democrats put immigration on the back burner wasn't racial but political. Labor leaders give lip service to backing the idea of giving legal status to the undocumented, but the rank-and-file aren't sold. Democrats are no more eager to divide their party than Republicans are to divide theirs.

Democrats benefit from Republican missteps. If the GOP acts as an obstacle, it saves the Democrats from having to play the villain.

Pelosi is right about race -- or more precisely, ethnicity, since Latinos aren't a race -- having a lot to do with why House Republicans won't bring up an immigration bill.

Since most immigrants to the United States, both legal and illegal, are now Latino, Republicans are afraid that -- whichever way the debate goes -- they'll be painted as "anti-Latino," which will lead to another beating at the ballot box. Besides, if they restart the immigration debate, Republicans can count on someone in their party saying something idiotic or incendiary that will turn off Latinos.

Then along comes Israel. When asked by reporters to comment on what Pelosi had said (notice how helpful the liberal media can be in advancing the narrative that Republicans are hostile to minorities), Israel said, "To a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are animated by racism. And that's unfortunate."

Israel has a point. Many Americans approach the immigration debate by succumbing to racism. They have for 250 years, starting when Benjamin Franklin railed against the Germans in the mid-1700s. That's a ready made constituency. In the last 20 years, a faction of the GOP has stepped up to service it. And whereas, a hundred years ago, the political piñata would have been the Irish or the Italians, today it's the Latinos.

Yet, that's only half the story. Here's the rest: Racism isn't limited to one party. It never has been.

Today, you'll find anti-Latino elements of the Democratic Party. Democratic politicians are careful not to say anything ugly. But rank-and-file Democratic voters are more uninhibited with their comments. Travel the country, as I have, and you'll hear the same remarks from Democrats that you hear from Republicans -- about how Latino immigrants are defiant, dangerous or deficient. This is why you see resistance to legalizing the undocumented from normally liberal voters in the South, Midwest and Northeast.

Listen up, Latinos. We don't have political power, and we're suffering through a litany of bad choices. But there's a way to improve our lot, and it has nothing to do with demographics. We have to avoid oversimplifying our predicament by blaming only Republicans for the poisonous mood of the immigration debate. Over the years, leading up to the Obama administration's dubious record of deporting 2 million people in five years, Democrats have done their share of damage.

Are racism and nativism part of the immigration debate? Of course they are. But the antidote to such bigotry isn't tolerance or open-mindedness. It's respect. And there is only one way for Latinos to get it, and that's by staying in play and making both parties compete for our votes.

That's not politics. It's common sense. And oftentimes, one doesn't have anything to do with the other.



Hillary Clinton praises undocumented teen

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came out strongly for the immigration reform legislation passed by the Senate last year after being asked about her stance by a young undocumented immigrant on Thursday.

“I believe strongly we are missing a great opportunity by not welcoming people like you and 11 million others who have made contributions to our country into a legal status,” Clinton told a tearful 19-year-old student at a No Ceilings event with the Clinton Foundation and Microsoft.

The young woman told Clinton, her daughter, Chelsea, and panel moderator actress America Ferrera that her legal status has made it impossible for her and 11 million others to get a job, go to college and even vote since she can’t get the proper documents. “This is an extreme glass ceiling for me,” she said emotionally.

 “Wow, that was incredibly brave, and I thank you for doing that because it’s important to put ourselves in other people’s shoes,” Hillary Clinton said. “I am strongly in favor of the legislation that passed the Senate, it was bipartisan, that’s rare these days. It passed, and unfortunately the House of Representatives has not taken it up, and I think that’s a big missed opportunity for our country.”

Considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination for the presidency in 2016, if she chooses to run, Clinton would surely have to address the controversial topic of immigration reform in a campaign. On Thursday, she said that allowing a path to citizenship for the millions of immigrants in the country illegally would have benefits not just for them, but for the country.

“It’s good for us. We have jobs that are done, we have cultural contributions that are made, it’s good for us. So I am a huge supporter of immigration reform and a path to citizenship and will continue to advocate for that,” she said.

Chelsea Clinton echoed her mother in calling for the House to take up the legislation as well as praising the young woman for sharing her story.

“I think there’s probably nothing worse than being disempowered and feeling invisible, and you started to change that here today because you made yourself visible and you started to empower yourself,” Clinton said. She urged the woman to join organizations that are “trying to ensure that the House does take this up, so that we cannot ignore any longer what should kind of be a continued effort of the United States, which is ever marching toward a more perfect union, and our status as a nation of immigrants is an existential part of that.”

The former first lady also told the audience member at the Lower Eastside Girls Club in New York City, where the event was held, that there are programs to help people like her who were brought to the country as children and encouraged her to seek them out after the event for guidance.

The conversation featured questions from audience members, livestream viewers worldwide and Skype connections with four classrooms across the country. Topics included immigration reform, human trafficking and even Chelsea Clinton announcing she is expecting her first child.

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Jeb Bush’s comments address the importance of Latino voters

Jeb Bush was right to address the human side of illegal immigration with his latest comments; challenging the usual diatribes and harsh rhetoric of conservative pundits and politicians. In describing the motivation of those who cross our borders as an “act of love,” Bush also made a statement about the future political landscape of the United States. While conservative radio and talk show hosts have predictably lambasted Bush for his thoughtful assessment on immigration, these same Republican cheerleaders ignore the growing relevance of Hispanic voters as well as the growing Latino population.

In the future, voters won’t care about birth certificate myths and similar Republican strategies used to scare people into voting for the GOP. Why? The answer lies within the projections and data of the Pew Research Center. According to Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends, the future of American politics will be decided by today’s minority voters. By 2050, the same minority groups who gave Obama roughly 80 percent of their vote will become the majority of the United States population. Thirty six years from now, Latinos (29 percent), African-Americans, and Asians will make up over half of the U.S. population. White voters will comprise either half or slightly less than half of the population.

Why should Republicans take notice of these demographic shifts?

In 2012, election results show that 93 percent of African-Americans, 71 percent of Hispanics, and 73 percent of Asian-Americans voted for President Obama. Furthermore, Obama won the Latino vote by a huge margin in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Nevada, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Colorado. As for the future of the Republican Party, strategists should correlate Bush’s latest comment with the following quote from Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends:

"The forces behind this transformation are a mix of immigration, births and deaths. The United States is more than four decades into what has been, in absolute numbers, the biggest immigration wave in its history–more than 40 million arrivals. Unlike previous waves that were almost entirely from Europe, the modern influx has been dominated by Hispanic and Asian immigrants.

These immigrants, like those from previous centuries, tend to have higher shares of women of childbearing age and higher birth rates than the U.S.-born population. Most of the growth in the Latino population and much of the growth in the Asian population will be driven by births rather than immigration."

These changing demographic trends don’t mean that there won’t be conservatives like Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz in the future. Rather, these projections point to the reality that the vast majority of these voters won’t be similar to Rubio or Cruz in their outlook on issues like immigration. Whereas conservatives like Ted Cruz promote a message of illegal immigrants being lawbreakers, this type of rhetoric will lose votes in the long term. Jeb Bush’s recent comments are aimed at resonating with the 77 percent of Latino voters who view that undocumented immigrants should receive some path to legalization. Since Hispanics voted over 70 percent for Obama in 2012, it is difficult to fathom that they wouldn’t vote for a Democratic overwhelmingly in 2016 and beyond.  As for the country as a whole, a recent CBS News poll shows that around two thirds of Americans currently favor either a pathway to citizenship or some way for illegal immigrants to stay in the U.S. legally without citizenship.

Finally, Bush’s immigration comments not only deal with the growing influence of Latino voters. Bush has opened up dialogue within his party about the philosophical reasons for illegal immigration. While those on the far right have painted the issue for decades as “law breakers intent at mocking U.S. sovereignty,” Bush has now forced conservatives (and their influential pundits) to see illegal immigration for what it is – or at least for how Latino’s view the issue: people searching for work to feed their families.  

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The Obama Bias In Hispanic Media: How Conservatives Can Reach Latinos

Senator Rand Paul and L. Brent Bozell at the launch of MRC Latino (Photo: A. Chafuen)

Conservative organizations and free-market think tanks continue to try and reach the growing Latino population. The Media Research Center (MRC), the conservative content analysis organization, recently entered the market with the MRC Latino project. Ken Oliver-Méndez, director of MRC Latino, described the results of their first study by reporting, “what we found is a pronounced leftward tilt in both networks’ reporting, particularly in coverage of U.S. domestic news. As it stands now, Democratic, left-leaning sources consistently dominate the narrative in these networks’ coverage of domestic issues. On the international front, however, both networks did a better job of maintaining a critical or balanced stance, as is the journalistic norm.”

Promoting free enterprise in the Latino community through the main TV networks is a difficult task. Univision and Telemundo show a strong bias in favor of the policies of President Obama. In the case of Obamacare, there was a 5 to 1 bias in the news reporting in favor of the law. At a recent program highlighting the MRC study, its founder and president Brent Bozell placed some of the blame outside the networks: “The conservative movement needs to make a stronger effort to constructively engage with Spanish-language media, and the networks must allow all major sides of a debate to speak in news stories, not just voices that management and staff may sympathize with.” It takes two to tango. Producers for Hispanic media also state that it is difficult for them to find conservative free market voices.

MRC’s focus on Obamacare is understandable. A few weeks ago, the Pew Research Center released a new survey showing that support for the law was eroding among Hispanics. Writing for Pew, Jens Manuel Krogstad and Seth Motel state, “today, as many Hispanics approve as disapprove (47 percent to 47 percent) of the new health care law.” Six months ago, the Hispanic approval rate was 61 percent. Krogstad and Motel continue saying, “During the same time period, Obama’s job approval rating has slipped 15 points among Hispanics.” His approval ratings among Hispanics are down from 63 percent in September 2013 to 48 percent in March. To put this in perspective, Obama’s approval ratings in the general public were 44 percent approval and 41 percent approval of Obamacare during the same time period.

Think tanks paint a clear picture. Research by think tanks help one to understand how government policies affect Latinos. Robert Graboyes, of Mercatus, and Mario Villareal, of the Institute for Humane Studies, explained how Medicaid is failing Hispanics. The piece appeared first in the “USAHispanic,” a new online newspaper.

The fastest growing conservative free market outreach effort today is the Libre Initative. It tripled its Twitter followers in one year, passing 5,000. Libre is going beyond traditional think tank work and is developing a multi-faceted strategy focusing on the matters that are of daily concern for Latinos including: jobs, immigration and prayer. Libre is gaining ground on the much older, and more established, National Council of La Raza which has over 30,000 Twitter followers. La Raza was founded in 1968 and has a budget of approximately $40 million.

Increased globalization and new technologies also provide new ways of reaching Hispanics. Most immigrants today remain connected to their native countries through various social media platforms. They can even watch their favorite sporting events and TV programs online. Technology has helped fuel some improvements in news coverage, as MRC reported, “Univision and Telemundo provided heavy coverage of the unrest in Venezuela, and their coverage of Venezuela’s socialist government was decidedly critical.” U.S. Latinos can follow the Twitter feeds and blogs of several free-market think tanks in Latin America.

Goldwater Institute in Arizona was one of the first think tanks to launch an effort to reach Latinos, and the first to realize that translating their publications into Spanish was not enough. After studying the impact of its 2007 Hispanic website, the institute found that it was not a good use of resources to translate its material into Spanish. The institute’s primary audience is policymakers, and they do their work in English. Darcy Olsen, president of Goldwater stated, “Most of Arizona’s Spanish language papers are focused on bread and butter issues, not policy, so it didn’t make sense to continue. However, for grassroots or groups who work directly with first generation immigrants, translating is no doubt essential.”

Champions of free markets need to continue their efforts to understand the way in which diverse segments of the Latino community receive news and analysis. They also need to try to reach the very diverse Hispanic community at different levels with convincing messages that a free economy is the best road to prosperity. But words will need to be accompanied by action and engagement at the community level, not so much by think tanks, but by churches, clubs, and support groups.



Depression Rates Is High Among New Latino Fathers, Study Finds

Paternal Depression Latino.jpg

While there is a large body of literature available about postpartum depression in new mothers, a recent study has found that men – particularly new Hispanic fathers - suffer from paternal depression during the first five years of parenthood as well.

Symptoms of depression among new fathers increased 68 percent during the first years of their child’s life and most significant rates of depression occurred in fathers around 25 years old who lived with their children, a study from the journal Pediatrics found.

“There’s been a significant body of literature describing the effect of mother's depression on child development, and the health care system has tried to rise to the challenge of identifying mothers with depression,” said Craig Garfield, lead author of the study. “Fathers have not been on the radar screen until recently. Now we know that … right around the time of the birth is an important time to try and capture and screen those dads.”

Other research into the issue found that depressed fathers were more likely to use physical punishment on their children, read and interact with them less and are more likely to be stressed and neglect their children.

The issue of depression is particularly worrying among Latino fathers because they face a number of issues that their non-Hispanic counterparts don’t, such as a lack of Spanish-speaking care providers and limited clinical data on Hispanics and mental health. Besides this, there are more common issues such as a stigma against mental health treatment, high costs of care and lack of insurance coverage, limited transportation and limited outreach programs.

“The next question is why are there these differences and how can we avoid making a one-size-fits-all approach to paternal depression and actually tailor something to fit individual needs?” Garfield said of the racial disparities in his study.

Some researchers said that it is not surprising that fathers also suffer from depression following the birth of a new child as the transition into parenthood is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life.

“Young children require an enormous amount of care, and it can be stressful to juggle parenting, work, extra housework, all while getting less sleep,” Lisa Harvey, a professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, told The Town Talk. “Having a child can also cause financial strain and difficulties in the couple’s relationship. All of these things can put parents at risk for becoming depressed.”


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