Ever since Barack Obama took office Latinos have been pounding on his door. It seems to me that President Obama could hear them, after all they have been vocal enough. The problem was, the general feeling of dislike for Latinos by the majority. Keep in mind, the President is the President of the United States, not of just the Latino community, the gay community, the African community or of women. However, it sure seems like the groups I just mentioned were much more valued than the Latinos.
I suppose that if you’ve been depreciating something for years, it simply loses it’s value. If you bought a brand new car and over the years you allowed people to walk by and hit it with a bat, plug some buckshot into it, broke the windows and keyed it, and on top of that, from the day you bought it, you claimed it was a gas hog that cost you dearly, that it was draining your budget, it was inefficient, it smelled, it looked ugly and you just couldn’t stand it’s color, it would surely depreciate. It just wouldn’t have the value that other same model cars of a different color might have, now would it?
The same is the case with Latinos throughout the United States. Especially immigrants! After years of beating them up, defaming them, frowning at the color of their skin, calling them disease carriers, lazy, job thieves and leeches, to name a few, the Latino has been devalued.
This is akin to the 1700′s, when slave owners wanted to count their slaves in order to broaden their representation in congress. The more populous the state, the more representation in congress. They found themselves with a dilemma. These were slaves! Their white slave owners didn’t treat them or consider them to be a man. They were simply sub human beings, that if rated at all, would rate on the lowest rung of the social ladder. They were used to create profit for the wealthy white plantation owners.
I suppose I’m starting to sound a bit militant, using words like white masters and black slaves and stirring up the ugly history we all want to forget. I’m simply trying to put into perspective the reasoning behind the desire to determine the value of a “sub human.” Well, after a knock down drag out fight, congress, in order to appease the wealthy white slave owners, decided to value these slaves as 3/5 of a man, changing the dynamics of the representation these slave owners received, and allowing them to further profit financially from their black skinned property.
Fast forward to modern times and examine the much depended on immigrant labor and what many of us call the modernized slave labor force that responds in a very similar way to their white employers.
In 2010 the U.S. Census was heavily banked on by local, state and federal government entities. The census is a decennial financial windfall for state and local governments.
An astounding $340 million dollars was spent to promote the U.S. Census in 2010. Everyone tried to get a piece of the pie. The local radio and television stations were littered with ads promoting the census. More importantly, and related to this article, the Spanish language media was all over it. The ads targeting Latinos, and specifically undocumented Latinos, were trust specific. They assured the Spanish language viewer or listener that their information would be kept completely private and confidential. The modern undocumented immigrant who they were targeting and enticing to participate, has traditionally had zero trust in a local and federal government that has been part and parcel to their exploitation as this country’s labor force.
The Census Bureau used truckloads of propaganda material, like trinkets, placards, backpacks, handbags, etc., all with the U.S. Census prominently displayed. The material was given away at stores frequented by Latinos and immigrants. People love giveaways, and immigrants are not an exception.
I would venture to say that very few of these immigrants were aware of the U.S. Census’ betrayal of trust during the 1940′s census campaign involving the Japanese Americans, who by virtue of their participation were rounded up and thrown in concentration camps after the Census Bureau gave specific information as to their addresses and ethnicity to the Secret Service. Had they known this, I imagine, the census, to these modern day Spanish speaking immigrants, would have been akin to being willing participants in their own deportation process.
The hype to participate in the census reached a crescendo as the anti-immigrant crowd argued that the census should not taken into consideration “illegals” who had no right to be here. On the other hand, the pro-immigrant groups for the most part, pushed for an absolute enumeration of the undocumented community, arguing that they wanted that representation in congress, new congressional districts, and the federal funds that would be distributed upon determining the amount of immigrants, mostly Latinos that are hiding in the shadows.
The undocumented immigrant community was railroaded by their own “advocates.” They were told that their children would have better schools to attend with the money that would be given to their communities, that they would have better roads to drive on, and that they would have a better infrastructure with the additional funds. Very few of us opposed these snake oil salesmen who profited from the census as they sold the immigrant community an elixir that would not only, not work, but they wouldn’t even get a chance to sip, in most cases.
What they didn’t tell the undocumented Immigrants is that since they don’t have a drivers license, and because they run a risk in just driving on the roads, they would not benefit from better roads. Those roads could very well lead to their deportation after being stopped and asked for their papers. Not only that, if deported, their children in all likelihood would have to join them in their native country, and they certainly would not enjoy that better education they were promised. The only benefit that was received, was for the politicians and the pseudo Latino activists and pseudo Latino leaders that sought additional congressional districts and funding to be distributed on their pork barrel projects which in most cases would not even get to the average Joe, let alone the undocumented Immigrant.
I think you would agree that the 2010 U.S. Census was very much like what occurred in 1787 with the three fifths compromise. What everyone considered and considers to be an unwanted sector of the general populous is used for political and financial gain.
Enter SB1070 in the same year as the census, and you not only had an outright hatred for the “illegal” a term coined by the racist, Tea Party members and Nationalists. You had a desire to violate the rights of those who looked like they might be an “illegal.” The concept behind SB1070 was to put a band aid on a border issue by pursuing those that might appear to fit the “look” of an “illegal border crosser.” Just about every one of the state house members that voted to pass SB1070 stood up and said they didn’t think it would resolve the border issue, but, it was a start.
With SB1070 under scrutiny by the District Court of Arizona and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court, Latinos were depreciated more and more. I remember having a chat with more than one Tea Party activist that said they had no problem with people being stopped based on what they looked like, if they fit the bill. They explained it by saying, “if you aren’t here illegally, then you got nothing to worry about.” One fair haired blue eyed gentleman in his fifties said, “well, if you’re looking for oranges, you go to the orange orchard, not the apple orchard.” To me it was obvious, the violation of a U.S. Citizen’s rights by and through racial profiling was A okay with supporters of SB1070, further depreciating the Latino, documented or not.
By the time 2012 rolled around, the Republican debates were littered with attacks on Latinos, U.S. born children of undocumented parents offensively called anchor babies, and the “Dreamers”, kids brought at a young age by parents who arrived seeking to fill those jobs most of us wouldn’t dare work.
As soon as the Republican primary ended, the prevailing candidate Mitt Romney, did an about face. After taking a look at his dismal standing with the Latino community, he began floating the idea of a Dream Act. He partnered with a “Latino” and banked on Latinos having short memory syndrome. The problem with his strategy is that Marco Rubio son of a Cuban Immigrant doesn’t completely qualify as a Latino in the eyes of many Latinos. You see a Cuban and a Puerto Rican would never be in the dilemma that a Mexican, Salvadoran, Guatemalan, Honduran etc. would be in. The wet feet, dry feet policy that the U.S. has for Cubans provides for a fast track to permanent residency and U.S. Citizenship. So as Romney struggled to sell Rubio as a Latino, and Rubio struggled to sell his fictitious Dream Act, President Barack Obama made his move.
President Obama granted a reprieve for kids who had been brought to this country by their parents at a very young age. By and through an executive order Obama made it clear, these kids would not be subject to deportation. Almost one year to the date from his change in prosecutorial discretion by and through a memorandum issued by Immigration & Customs Enforcement director John Morton, Obama lowered the boom on the Republicans.
The race was on! The Latino vote was the most desired vote. It was the game changer. All of a sudden that same sector of the community that had been devalued, kicked around, called names, and frowned upon, was a high value pawn in the political game. Without a large percentage of the Latino vote, a candidate can’t win the presidency of the United States.
Ten days later the Supreme Court rules the majority of SB1070 unconstitutional and allows the show me your papers portion to take effect. Once again, Obama comes to the rescue of the Latino and the undocumented immigrants which form an integral part of our Latino communities. Obama strips Arizona law enforcement agencies of their 287g certification rendering them helpless in trying to verify the legal status of a person who may fit the “look” of an “illegal immigrant.” Not only does Obama strip law enforcement of their 287g, he goes one step further in ordering that those determined to be unlawful Immigrants will not be picked up unless they have committed a felony. Essentially granting your average undocumented immigrant that is not a felonious criminal freedom to continue washing your cars, cleaning your houses and mowing your lawns.
So while my colleagues, the Immigrant activists complain about President Obama, it appears, it’s Obama that has done the most for Latinos and the undocumented community.
Although I don’t think our value as Latinos will bounce back overnight, I think this is certainly a start to making us whole again.
However, nothing will take away the pain that we have endured, the dirty looks, the filthy names, the inferior treatment for us and our children. As a child bussed to all white schools as part of the desegregation of America, I have been enduring this pain and abuse for many years.
A word to the wise, we Latinos don’t suffer from short memory syndrome, but as good Americans we are willing to forgive, and when we become the majority, I promise you, we will not treat you, the way you have treated us.
Carlos E. Galindo is a radio talk show host & political analyst conducting radio shows in both English and Spanish on four radio stations in Arizona. Mr. Galindo is a weekly contributor to KPFK 98.7 FM Los Angeles and W60 AM Radio, Los Angeles, San Diego and has appeared on CNN, Univision and Telemundo as a political analyst. Mr. Galindo is also an Op-Ed columnist on Prensa Hispana and the Tucson Citizen in Arizona. Carlos Galindo is President and founder of the Immigrant Advocacy Foundation, Inc.