Latinos Buy Obama’s Campaign Pandering

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Despite having the highest deportation record of any American president in recorded history, Barack Obama has managed to achieve a 70 percent approval rating with Latino voters by pandering in the 11th hour.

A new poll conducted by Latino Decisions found that 70 percent of registered Latino voters would vote for Obama, while 22% said they would support Mitt Romney. This is the first time a Latino Decisions survey has shown Obama with 70 percent support in the last 20 months, a change the group attributes to the president voicing opposition to Arizona’s harsh anti-immigration law the past 30 days.

Latino Decisions also credits President Obama’s June 15 pro-Dream Act announcement, which, let’s face it, amounts to a lot of election-time feel-good words and no permanent change for undocumented students. (“Now let’s be clear,” Mr. Obama said in the Rose Garden, “This is not an amnesty. This is not a path to citizenship. It is not a permanent fix.”)

Here’s the thing: The president seems fond of (very) publicly decreeing liberal immigration policies for his administration without ever doing all that much to help pass liberal immigration legislation.

In June 2011, for example, the Department of Homeland Security issued an official memo instructing Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) employees to “refrain from pursuing non-citizens with close family, educational, military, or other ties in the U.S. and instead spend the agency’s limited resources on persons who pose a serious threat to public safety or national security.” This was widely circulated in the media and if you are the type of person who keeps up with the government through headlines, you’d think President Obama was pretty soft on immigrants.

In reality, though, the Obama administration arrested more than 150,000 noncriminal immigrants in fiscal year 2011. Two studies cited in a report from the National Association of Social Workers also found that, depending on the jurisdiction, anywhere from 55 percent to 87 percent of “serious criminal” arrests through ICE’s programs stem from misdemeanors such as traffic violations. This is because traffic violations are considered “level 2” crimes by ICE, placing them in the middle of the scale.

If voters would spend a modicum of time studying politicians’ actual records, they’d be a lot less inclined to vote based on campaign talking points and a lot more likely to demand a history of proven legislation that falls in line with their values before handing over their allegiance. Of course, the Democratic Party knows that no self-respecting Latino is going to vote for the Latino-hating Republicans, so they’ve really got us by the cojones. That’s a sad place for Latino voters to be.

Cindy Casares is a columnist for the Texas Observer. She is also the founding Editor of Guanabee Media, an English-language, pop culture blog network about Latinos established in 2007. She has a Master's in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. Prior to her career in journalism, she spent ten years in New York City as an advertising copywriter. During her undergraduate career at the University of Texas she served under Governor Ann Richards as a Senate Messenger during the 72nd Texas Legislature.