(Credit: AP Photo/Getty Images)

No longer a backburner issue, immigration is roiling the presidential contest as President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney seek to court the nation’s swelling Hispanic population. The outcome could influence political battle lines and shape American politics for generations.

 The Supreme Court is about to render judgment on a get-tough Arizona law, and just last week the Democratic president announced plans to ease deportation rules for some children of illegal immigrants. With Election Day less than five months away, Hispanic voters are energized and paying close attention.

photo source: flickr

“There’s a lot at stake. We’re talking about a significant share of the American electorate that could well decide this election,” said Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “It’s only now that both candidates are turning their attention to the Latino vote.”

LBJ signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Indeed, both sides are crafting aggressive strategies to appeal to a demographic that is by no means monolithic but has supported Democrats in recent elections. Some Republicans fear — and Democrats hope — that Obama could capitalize on this moment to help solidify Hispanic voters as predominantly Democratic this fall and for years to come, much as President Lyndon Johnson hardened the black vote for Democrats as he pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The stakes are high not only for states with larger Hispanic populations such as Florida, Nevada and Colorado, but for a growing number of other battlegrounds — Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, among them — where even a modest shift among Latino voters could be significant. The United States‘ Latino population surged from about 35 million in 2000 to 50 million in 2010, according to the Census Bureau.

Obama is riding a wave of Latino enthusiasm over his decision to allow hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to stay in the country and work. Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants can avoid deportation if they can prove they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. The new policy could help anywhere from 800,000 young immigrants — the administration’s estimate — to the Pew Hispanic Center‘s estimate of 1.4 million.

The move was politically timely, in the heat of the campaign and with Obama needing to energize a key part of his base of supporters — many of whom had grown disenchanted over the past three years. While the direct beneficiaries of the directive can’t vote for Obama, his action has widespread support among American Latinos. In fact, Obama has long enjoyed support among Hispanics — he won 67 percent of the Latino vote in 2008.

But he risked losing their enthusiasm, partly because Hispanics have been among the hardest hit by the economic slowdown. Obama also lost some support because he hasn’t fulfilled promises of a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system and because his administration has been aggressively deporting illegal immigrants. A December poll by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 59 percent of Latinos disapproved of the president’s handling of deportations.

Obama supporters 2008 photo source: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod predicts that the president could exceed his 2008 performance with Hispanics this year, noting that his opponent then was Sen. John McCain, who had initially pushed for an overhaul of the immigration system. Axelrod contends that Romney is “hopelessly twisted up on this issue.” Obama had troubles of his own before the administration announced the recent initiative. Supporters of many illegal immigrants — students as well as workers— had been mounting protests at Obama campaign headquarters this month in places such as Denver and Los Angeles.

Marco Saavedra, a Dream Act protester, participates in a sit-in Friday at President Barack Obama’s Walnut Hills campaign headquarters. The office has been closed since Saavedra and other protesters arrived Wednesday. / The Enquirer/Cara Owsley

 The Romney campaign has struggled to offer a consistent response to the president’s move. Romney has assailed Obama’s “broken promises” on immigration in recent days but has focused on the new policy’s temporary status as his prime criticism.

photo: photo: AP / Stephan Savoia

“These people deserve to understand what their status will be long term, not just four and a half months,” Romney said on Fox News Radio this week. “And that’s why I think it’s important for me and for Congress to come together to put together a plan that secures the border, that insists that we have an employment verification system and that deals with the children of those who have come here illegally on a long-term basis, not a stopgap measure.”

photo: photo: AP / Gerald Herbert

As is typical, Romney intends to focus on the economy when he faces the Latino convention on Thursday. The former Massachusetts governor argues that his economic credentials would benefit all people who have struggled under Obama’s leadership in recent years — women, younger voters and Hispanics among them. Still, Romney’s own immigration policy is unclear as he works to distance himself from harsh conservative rhetoric that was common during the extended GOP primary season earlier in the year.

photo source: AP / Paul Sancya

Facing a Rhode Island audience in April, for example, Romney drew large cheers when he said, “We want people to come here legally. And we like it when they come here speaking English.” He did not support the Obama administration’s lawsuit challenging Arizona’s hardline immigration law. And he said that he would veto the DREAM Act that would have given legal status to some children of illegal immigrants. Romney has refused so far to say whether he would reverse Obama’s new policy that does much the same thing, albeit on a temporary basis.

A Spanish language ad from the Obama campaign targeting Latino voters.

Even before he announced the new rules, Obama was looking to build his support among Latinos, vastly outspending Romney on Spanish-language television and radio. But Romney has released targeted TV and radio ads in Spanish, including some that feature one of Romney’s sons who is a fluent Spanish speaker. Simon Rosenberg, who follows immigration matters as head of the liberal-leaning group NDN, said the president’s move on immigration not only helps him energize Latino voters, it also helps cast him as a president willing to take bold steps. For a Latino community that worried that neither party was doing enough, “they now have a champion,” he said. But, he added, “There will be a resonance beyond the Latino community.”

Besides the new immigration initiative, the Obama camp has been using the new health care law to appeal to Hispanic voters, a rare use of the signature Obama measure in the campaign. An ad campaign this week in Nevada, Colorado and Florida focuses on the benefits of the health care law for Hispanics and features Cristina Saralegui, a popular Spanish-language television personality who endorsed Obama this week. She says in the ad that Obama’s health care law guarantees that “the great majority of Hispanics” will have access to doctors and hospitals.

Read More: Christian Science Monitor

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  1. October 10, 2012

    Hello, my fellow American voters!

    I want to remind you that in October there are 3 televised presidential debates (October 3rd, October 16th, October 22nd) and 1 televised vice-presidential debate (October 11th):

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012 (Mitt Romney and Barack Obama – Domestic Policy topic)

    Air Time: 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. Central Standard Time; 9:00 – 10:30 Eastern Standard Time

    Location: University of Denver, Denver, Colorado Moderator: Jim Lehrer (Host of NewsHour on PBS)

    Thursday, October 11, 2012 (Paul Ryan and Joe Biden – Foreign and Domestic Policy topic)

    Air Time: 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, 9:00 – 10:30 Eastern Standard Time

    Location: Centre College in Danville, Kentucky Moderator: Martha Raddatz (ABC News Chief Foreign Correspondent)

    Tuesday, October 16, 2012 (Mitt Romney and Barack Obama – Foreign and Domestic Policy topic)

    Air Time: 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, 9:00 – 10:30 Eastern Standard Time

    Location: Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York Moderator: Candy Crowley (CNN Chief Political Correspondent)

    Monday, October 22, 2012 (Mitt Romney and Barack Obama – Foreign Policy topic)

    Air Time: 8:00 – 9:30 p.m. Central Standard Time, 9:00 – 10:30 Eastern Standard Time

    Location: Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida Moderator: Bob Schieffer (Host of Face the Nation on CBS)

    I hope that each of you will vote on Tuesday, November 6th and that you will vote for the presidential candidate that you think will help to make our America and all of us Americans strong, secure, and stable.

    For those of you who like taking quizzes, you can take the following presidential election quiz and see which candidate you side with, that is, IF you view the quiz as being fairly accurate – see

    Also, I want to inform you that I will be casting my vote for the Romney/Ryan ticket for some of the following reasons (i.e., I have not presented below an exhaustive list of my reasons):

    (1) I believe that Romney/Ryan will be much more committed to getting our economy back in shape and to taking desperately-needed steps to cut our deficit and ultimately balance our budget. Romney stated:

    “We must rein in our trillion-dollar deficits, solve our looming entitlement liability problem, and show an unwavering commitment to stop spending what we do not have. New expensive programs and entitlements must be off the table. If we do not bring government finances under control, our recovery will be long and slow, and we will risk another downturn precipitated by a severely weakened dollar.”

    Just as individual American households must have a budget, control their spending, and limit their debt, the U.S. Government must do the very same – it is that simple, and we Americans CANNOT afford to do otherwise!

    I watched the October 3rd Romney and Obama debate which was devoted exclusively to the economy.
    It was so refreshing to be able to compare Romney’s and Obama’s views on the economy, without any of their “aides” and “campaign workers” interjecting their thoughts and attempting to “massage” various issues.
    For a transcript and audio of the debate, see .
    The debate covered the following 7 important areas: jobs, budget deficit and debt, social security and entitlements, federal regulation of the economy, healthcare, the role of the federal government in the economy, and partisan gridlock and how to handle it
    (i.e., how to get democrats, republicans, and other political parties to cooperate).
    Romney clearly won this 1st debate – he won it with substance, integrity, clarity, facts, commitment, and inspiration.
    From a substantive standpoint, in my estimation Romney won “hands down” on 5 of the areas covered, and 2 of the areas were a toss-up (although in 1 of these 2 areas in my debate notes taken I wrote “Romney won or toss-up” which essentially means that Romney won but not to the “hands down” degree that he did on the other 5 areas).
    But these debates are definitely NOT about who wins them but rather about who is the best person and in the best position in terms of qualifications and character to lead our country in the direction that our country needs to go to solve our problems and make life better for all of us Americans.
    Watching the debate with its emphasis on the economy made me even more so inspired by the Romney/Ryan ticket – I hope that you too are inspired by them!

    (2) I believe that Romney/Ryan will be much more committed to refrain from implementing any more quantitative easing.

    Romney’s top policy advisor, Lanhee Chen, issued this statement through the Romney campaign:

    “The Federal Reserve’s announcement of a third round of quantitative easing is further confirmation that President Obama’s policies have not worked. After four years of stagnant growth, falling incomes, rising costs, and persistently high unemployment, the American economy doesn’t need more artificial and ineffective measures. We should be creating wealth, not printing dollars. As president, Mitt Romney will enact bold, pro-growth policies that lead to robust job creation, higher take-home pay, and a true economic recovery.”

    For those of you who want to know more about quantitative easing, see .

    See also a transcript of Ben Bernanke’s (Federal Reserve Chairman’s) August 31, 2012 speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming regarding quantitative easing –

    (3) While I am concerned first and foremost about our economic situation, I am also very concerned about our foreign policy and immigration issues. The world is a lot more complicated now when there are so many regional conflicts, including many with seemingly religious underpinnings, and too few government leaders around the world have the willingness and the skills to play a long-term vital role in stabilizing the situation. While I believe that Hillary Clinton has done a good job as Secretary of State, she is not the president or the vice-president who instead have demonstrated a failure of leadership in these two areas on important and more difficult issues (for a fairly objective opinion, see “Ten Reasons Why Obama’s Foreign Policy Is Not a Success” at ).

    I believe that Romney/Ryan have both the desire and the ability to fill this leadership gap.

    (4) As regards immigration issues, when elected President, Mitt Romney promises to do the following to help BOTH legal and illegal immigrants (see

    “As president, Mitt Romney will provide real answers for our nation’s broken immigration system:
    Mitt Romney will secure our borders;
    cut red tape that is burdening legal immigrants and keeping immediate family members apart;
    ensure we admit the workers our economy needs to grow and create jobs;
    and find a solution for the 11 million illegal immigrants living in the shadows—including those who were brought to America as children.”

    One extremely important problem facing our country for many years now and desperately needing resolution as soon as possible is the problem of illegal immigration.
    I am troubled by the significant illegal immigration to our country, not only because it is in fact illegal but also because more and more often it occurs with the help of people smugglers who seek to exploit financially and in other ways the hopes and dreams of these immigrants – for information on people smuggling, see
    People smuggling between Mexico and the USA alone is a multi billion dollar industry.
    The United States has an estimated illegal immigrant population of 12 million (see, with approx. 59% of illegal immigrants coming from our neighbor, Mexico
    (see .
    However, since it is extremely difficult to estimate the illegal immigrant population, a range of 7 million to 20 million is used – see .

    I want immigrants in the United States, all the more so since historically the United States is a country of immigrants – somewhere along the way I myself am linked biologically with some immigrant.
    I want legal immigrants to come and stay here in the long-term.
    I want immigrants to love this country as much as I love it, to feel that here they are both “home” and “at home”, to integrate themselves into American culture, and to feel that they are a vital part of this country.
    I look forward to many of them ultimately making the decision to become American citizens.

    I want illegal immigrants to be dealt with in a legal, humane, and fair manner, including but not limited to having a law passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by the U.S. President to deal with the immense illegal immigrant problem.
    Simultaneously, I want the United States to pass and implement laws that will effectively decrease the magnitude of illegal immigration in the future.

    I want the U.S. Congress in a timely, efficient, and responsible manner to use its exclusive constitutional right to pass much-needed and long-awaited immigration legislation and reform.
    Article I, Section 8, Clause 4 of the U.S. Constitution states that “the Congress shall have power to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization”.
    The U.S. Supreme Court rightfully has interpreted this “naturalization” power to include the exclusive power to regulate immigration by legislation.
    Given the U.S. Congress’ exclusive constitutional right to pass immigration legislation, I consider Homeland Security’s June 15, 2012 Memorandum “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children” lobbied by Obama and signed by Napolitano to be ILLEGAL since it directly attempts to sidestep and diminish the U.S. Congress’ exclusive constitutional right to pass immigration legislation.
    See the text of the Memorandum at
    The Memorandum is NOT “an exercise of prosecutorial discretion” as Napolitano attempts to portray it but rather in fact confers “substantive rights” to these illegal immigrants which ONLY the U.S. Congress has the right to confer.
    Since Obama taught constitutional law courses at the University of Chicago Law School for 12 years from 1992 until 2004, he must definitely understand why the Memorandum is illegal.

    I am very sensitive to the plight of illegal immigrants of all ages (i.e., not just those under 30 years of age referred to in the Memorandum) who came to the United States as children with their parents, especially since this was not a voluntary act on their part but rather on their parents’ part.
    I also am very sensitive to the plight of illegal immigrants who have lived in the United States for 20 to 30 and more years (the Memorandum does not address this important category of illegal immigrants) and who call the United States their “home”, along with their children and grandchildren who grew up here and/or were born here and who in fact know no other “home”.
    But as the President of the United States the way for Obama to deal with important sensitivities such as these is NOT to have an ILLEGAL memorandum issued but rather to work with the U.S. Congress to pass needed legislation, regardless of how difficult this is to accomplish and how long it takes to accomplish.
    By Obama resorting to such “Memorandum” tactics, he has in fact shown a FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP at a time when leadership in politics is what we Americans so desperately need.

    With the above information in mind, I respectfully request that Latino U.S. citizens seriously consider giving their vote to Mitt Romney on November 6, 2012 since I truly believe that he wants to and in fact will solve the illegal immigrant problem in a totally legal and respectful way and also will take necessary steps to reform immigration law via the U.S. Congress who has the exclusive constitutional right to do so.

    (5) I believe that a Republican Mormon as President and a Republican Catholic as Vice-President will be an interesting and viable political and religious combination.

    While I believe in a strong separation of government and religion so that religious freedoms for all can indeed remain “free” and unsuppressed, as a voter I look favorably upon electing government officials who believe in God and who use this belief to bolster their personal and professional ethics. At the same time, I will not vote for or against someone just because he/she is a religious person since I know many people who are not religious (including those who are agnostic or atheist) and with whom I share many core beliefs. On a personal note, while I am a Christian (without a strong preference for any particular denomination), my spouse is an atheist.

    (6) I agree with the premise of the article “Mitt Romney is Right” by Dick Morris (see below) that while we Americans deserve government benefits when we are having various temporary or even permanent problems, we do NOT deserve to grow so dependent upon these benefits that we end up failing to exercise our independence and to use our talents that we indeed can and need to exercise and use.

    “Mitt Romney is Right” by Dick Morris, political commentator and author

    “There is no sin greater in a presidential race than telling the truth.

    Romney is being excoriated for accurately describing the situation in America today.

    Here are the stats:

    * 49% of all Americans pay no fed income tax

    * 47% receive a check from the government of which more than half are means tested welfare checks (Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, etc.)

    * 36% of all Americans of working age are either not working or looking for work.

    We must remember, however, that a great many of those who receive checks from the government have earned them. Some by their taxes over the years to Social Security and Medicare and others by paying a deeper price by service to their country.

    The benefits Romney was talking about are means tested benefits, distributed based on income.

    All together 100 million Americans receive such benefits (out of a total population of 308 million), these benefits include welfare, food stamps, Section 8 housing, Medicaid and other such programs.

    Generalities are always unjust. And painting with broad strokes will do many individuals an injustice. But the fact remains that our electorate is basically bifurcated into those who pay taxes and those who receive benefits.

    The danger comes not with the benefit but with the sense of entitlement. Why do so many people feel Romney will be better at improving the economy and yet still plan to vote for Obama?

    The answer is that they care more about preserving their entitlements than about improving the economy.

    They have come to rely on political action more than economic growth as the key to their solvency.

    Did Romney err in telling it like it is? It would have been better if he had made a forthright, factual statement on the issue. It looks bad for these unpleasant facts to come out in a “gotcha” moment at a videotaped private event. But the fact remains that an Obama reelection would turn the tide psychologically in America from the land of upward mobility through hard work and initiative and toward a country akin to Greece: dependent on government aid in the form of a subsidy and government handouts.

    By stating this fundamental truth, albeit off the record, Romney has done a service for which he should be praised not excoriated. It all boils down to what John Kennedy said: There are those who ask what their country can do for you, and those who ask what you can do for your country.”

    (7) To learn about where Romney/Ryan stand on various issues that may be important to you, see

    (8) Finally, I would like to state that I am an INDEPENDENT and plan to remain so indefinitely, having at one time been a member of the Republican Party in the southwest and at another time a member of the Democratic Party in the southwest and northeast.

    As I see it, the best option in voting is to be able to vote FOR a candidate, rather than simply AGAINST another candidate, as well as being able to vote FOR a party platform, rather than simply AGAINST another party platform.
    Unfortunately, for the following reasons, more often than not during the past few years I find myself making compromises between these “for” and “against” options.

    My personal view is that the current Democratic Party has become far too liberal in its ideology, while the current Republican Party has become far too conservative in its ideology.

    As a result, a lot of us Americans who do NOT see life in terms of stark contrasts (but rather in terms of a MOSAIC) find it difficult to support candidates from either of these two parties.

    However, as in life generally, in politics there must also be compromise.

    Of course, I could vote for another candidate from a non-Republican, non-Democratic party, but I want my vote to count in terms of actually getting someone elected whom I can expect to do the job in an excellent way.

    After careful research and consideration, I have made my compromise in favor of the Romney/Ryan ticket.

    There are several characteristic that I believe BOTH Romney and Ryan have and share, and I would like for these characteristic to be implemented in the positions of president and vice-president (unfortunately, I do not recall any past president/vice president combination having these characteristics, at least not to the degree that Romney and Ryan do).

    Both Romney and Ryan appear to me to be highly disciplined, methodic, and focused on PROBLEM-SOLVING, i.e., defining specific problems, studying them from all angles (which also includes analyzing indepth opposing viewpoints), breaking them down into their component parts, coming up with creative, practical, and workable solutions to them, and then implementing and refining these solutions. Since our America currently has plenty of truly complex domestic and foreign problems, I believe that this problem-solving approach is very much needed in the White House and has been very much lacking in the Obama/Biden ticket.

    In closing, good luck to all of you in making your decision about who we should elect to help us manage our country in a time of its great and pressing needs.
    I will be very glad and thankful if you join me on Tuesday, November 6th, in voting for the Romney/Ryan ticket!

    Best regards,

    Cas Lee

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