Category Archives: Elections

National Organizations Announce Record Latino Voter Mobilization Effort

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – The nation’s leading Latino advocacy and civil rights non-profit organizations have come together to mobilize eligible Latino voters across the country, protect their right to vote, and ensure that they remain a vital part of our democracy amid an increasing onslaught of discriminatory policies; including this week’s upholding of the racial profiling provision of Arizona’s SB 1070 immigration law by the Supreme Court.

As a diverse and multi-issue electorate, the Latino community also awaits policy developments on the issues all Americans care about: the economy, education, and healthcare.

The non-partisan effort will register over 400,000 Latinos to vote, and mobilize more than 700,000 registered Latino voters in several states across the nation.  The effort will also equip Latino voters with the skills and resources they need to become fully engaged in American democracy. These organizations include the Center for Community Change, the Hispanic Federation, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, the NALEO Educational Fund, the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Presente, and Voto Latino.  The combined effort will include work in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

“We will make our voices heard above the noise of political campaigns and show that Latino communities, their families and friends represent powerful constituencies at the ballot box, and a vital component of a vibrant country and healthy democracy,” said Rudy Lopez, National Political Director for the Center for Community Change.

“Latinos are part of America’s DNA and our voters will grow the ranks of those who care about solving the nation’s most pressing challenges.  It’s about solution, and it’s about respect—we are organizing and elevating the issues that matter to bring about change,” said Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, NCLR Director of Civic Engagement.

“This program is designed to build a long-term vision that extends beyond 2012,’ said Jose Calderón, President of Hispanic Federation. “Our goal is to build sustainable electoral capacity that steadily grows an engaged participatory electorate.”

“The current and future vitality of our nation depends upon our ability to successfully integrate new Americans into our social and economic systems, and to empower all Americans to be active participants in civic affairs,” said Arturo Vargas, Executive Director of the NALEO Educational Fund. “This coordinated initiative will help ensure Latinos are woven into the fabric of the American democracy this November, and beyond.”

“In a political environment that has never been more negative – even hostile – towards the Latino community, Latino citizens are responding with a positive message by getting more engaged in the democratic process of our country,” said Ben Monterroso, National Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. ” Mi Familia Vota and our community allies will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Latino participation reaches an all-time high in the November election. And by investing in the current and long-term capacity of our groups, we intend to strengthen the civic infrastructure of Latino communities for many election cycles to come.”


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Florida’s Latino vote is up for grabs

The Latino vote in Florida is changing. In previous years, the vote has been dominated by Cuban conservatives who align themselves with the GOP. Esther Cepeda says that is no longer the case. In her opinion piece, she describes how Florida Latinos now better reflect the rest of America and why this is still anyone’s race.

Opinion: Florida’s Latino Vote is Up for Grabs
From the Washington Post
Click here to read >> 

What yesterday’s elections say about immigration reform


Yesterday was a big day in the world of politics. With gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey, empty seats house seats being vied for in CA and NY, two landmark votes on gay marriage in Maine and Washington and a smattering of local ballot initiatives and referendums, it was a day to measure the current political climate and reflect on where we’ve been since the election of Barack Obama one year ago.

While I’m still mourning the loss of gay marriage in Maine and wondering what Bob McDonnell’s election means for the erosion of women’s rights in Virginia, I’m also analyzing what the results say (if anything) about immigration reform in 2010.

New America Media  has a nice summary post about how the results could impact the likelihood of reform, calling yesterday a “mixed bag” but also stating that ‘Election results may boost immigration reform efforts in Congress‘.

Republican gubernatorial candidates who promised more hardline immigration stances won races in Virginia and New Jersey.

But two vacant seats in the U.S. House of Representatives (in New York’s 23rd district and California’s 10th district) were picked up by Democrats. As I explain below, these pick-ups should make it just a bit easier for House Democrats to marshal the votes needed to advance on comprehensive immigration reform, which they have promised to do before the end of this year.

The gains couldn’t come at a better time for Democrats eager to move on immigration. Earlier this autumn, 100 House Democrats sent a letter to President Obama reaffirming their commitment to push immigration reform legislation forward. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, Ill.-D, has said he will introduce an immigration bill as early as this month.

What this means, in basic terms, is that supporters of immigration reform – primarily Dems – will have an easier time rounding up the necessary votes to move on legislation thanks to the addition of two more allies in the House.

On a local level, the election of Chris Christie in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell in Virginia could mean more hard-line and harmful local enforcement measures in both states.

Republican Chris Christie’s election as New Jersey governor over incumbent Jon Corzine may slow down or kill efforts underway to grant undocumented immigrant students the right to access in-state tuition at New Jersey colleges.

Christie’s election might also spur another 287(g) agreement, which gives local law enforcement the right to enforce Federal immigration lawl; a program that has been under much scrutiny and has been plagued with allegations of racial profiling and rights abuses.

In Virginia, newly elected governor Bob McDonnell is a strong proponent of 287(g) but also went out of his way to court the Latino vote in the state. While I highly doubt that he can take a hard-line anti-immigrant stance and simultaneously court the Latino vote successfully, I have been known to be wrong about this before (see: CNN and Lou Dobbs).

And finally, in Denver, Colorado, a local initiative was defeated that was described as a thinly veiled attack on undocumented immigrants. The initiative would have “significantly restricted police discretion on whether to impound cars driven by unlicensed drivers.” Basically the initiative would have made it almost mandatory to impound cars driven by unlicensed drivers (note: in Denver undocumented immigrants cannot be licensed to drive).

Again, a mixed bag on immigration reform and immigrant rights from the elections results yesterday. However, with the addition of two Dems in the house, its looking like there might be a bright spot in the mix.

Senator Al Franken: Mark one more for immigration reform

This week, the Minnesota Supreme Court (finally) ruled that Al Franken is, in fact, the newest Senator in the United States Congress. The decision comes after an 8 month long debate over the seat, complete with recounts and the drama of a legal battle. Franken’s victory ousted Republican Norm Coleman, who conceded defeat after the court’s ruling.

The blogosphere is buzzing with what this means for Congress, however, America’s Voice has noted that Franken will most likely be a sensible vote for immigration reform. The evidence includes Franken saying it would be impractical to deport 12 million people and that it should be a priority to keep families together. Check out America’s Voice research here.

Welcome, Senator Franken. We are counting on you to add yet another voice to the call for a sensible and solution-oriented approach to immigration reform.

Rep. Hilda Solis is the new Secretary of Labor

solisFrom the National Immigration Forum:

Washington, DC Today, the Associated Press reported that Rep. Hilda Solis (D-CA) is President-elect Obama’s pick to head the Department of Labor.  The following is a statement by Ali Noorani, Executive Director of the National Immigration Forum, a non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization in Washington.

Rep. Hilda Solis has been a key leader for immigrants, workers, and comprehensive immigration reform throughout her career and we eagerly welcome the good news that she has been selected as the next Secretary of Labor.  Joining Gov. Janet Napolitano at the Department of Homeland Security, Sen. Hillary Clinton at the State Department, Gov. Bill Richardson at the Department of Commerce, and other key nominees, Rep. Solis is joining a strong team that can work with Congress on behalf of the President to deliver real reform for the American people on the issue of immigration.

In this time of economic insecurity, it is more important than ever that we have stability in our labor market and the conditions by which workers – immigrant and native-born alike – can stand together to win better wages and better jobs.  Restoring the rule of law to our immigration system through comprehensive immigration reform is a key ingredient in defending and extending workers’ rights.

In nominating a leader as skilled and dedicated as Rep. Solis to this important office, President-elect Obama is sending the clear signal that American workers, regardless of their country of birth, are a valued part of America’s future and a top priority for his Administration. 

This is great news. The pieces are truly falling into place for the prospects of comprehensive immigration reform next year. Let’s keep this momentum rolling!

The Latino Voter Surge – and What it Means

vote-aqui2I’ve talked a lot recently about the Latino vote and the integral role it played in this month’s election. Latinos turned out in record numbers at the polls, claiming their spot as a political force to be reckoned with. Yesterday, Janet Murgia, president and CEO of NCLR, had a great op-ed published on this same topic.

Murgia notes that the historic Latino voter surge doen’t only mean a place at the table for Latinos, but it also signifies an opportunity to heal some of the historical tensions between African American and Latino communities.

Though our journeys in this country have been different, we have more that unites us than divides us. Both the African American and Hispanic communities have relied on hope for a better tomorrow for future generations, hope for the elimination of hate, and hope for a stronger nation for all Americans. On November 4, this hope translated to votes as President-elect Obama captured 66 percent of the Latino vote. On November 4, our common concerns and hope for the future trumped whatever tensions exist between our communities. On November 4, we came together and rose above our differences.

Throughout his campaign, President-elect Obama reminded us of what it means to hope. He energized a multitude of new voters with his call for Americans to hope for a better tomorrow and to come together to bring about change through collective responsibility. It is our obligation as Americans to not only believe in our power to accomplish this change, but to continue to turn our hope into action like we did on Election Day.

Your Presidential Appointment Round-up!

obama1This week numerous names have started circulating around who will be stepping into newly appointed positions this January. Here are some of the highlights of the tentative Obama administration’s appointees:

Janet Napolitano, the Democratic Governor of Arizona has been chosen to head the Department of Homeland Security. – full story

David A. Martin, a law professor at the University of Virginia will serve on the Agency Review Team for the Department of Homeland Security. – full story

Mariano Florentino-Cuéllar, a professor at Stanford Law School has been tapped to be the new Director of U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services. He will also be heading up the Immigration Policy group.  – full story

Obama also announced who will head the newly formed Policy Working Groups for the incoming administration. The focus of the Policy Working Groups will be to develop the priority policy proposals and plans from the Obama Campaign for action during the Obama-Biden Administration. Below is the list of new leaders for each group. Full story here.

Continue reading

Latinos Have Changed the Electoral Map

Yet another article was published today about the importance of the Latino vote during Tuesday’s election. From the New York Times:

“They really delivered,” said Efrain Escobedo, director of civic engagement at the Latino officials’ association, a bipartisan group that ran voter registration drives across the country. “This is an electorate that now understands the importance of voting, and they made a significant shift in the political landscape.”

Latinos were integral to Obama’s election in important states like New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Florida. Read the full article here.

News Roundup: How Latinos and Immigrant Voters Decided This Election


I’m just going to let these speak for themselves:

CNN: Latino voters tip balance

Washington Post: Barack Obama built his victory in Florida

New York Times: Obama Wins Election; McCain Loses as Bush Legacy Is Rejected

Dallas Morning News: Obama wins over nation’s Hispanic voters, exit polls show

Associated Press: Obama buoyed by Hispanic voters

Miami Herald: Obama won big among Hispanics — with GOP’s help

Miami Herald: Blacks, Hispanics signal Florida shift 

Newsweek: Obama’s Latino Edge

CNN: Latinos fleeing GOP

San Diego Union Tribune: Region’s Latinos get out the vote

Market Watch: Unprecedented Latino Voter Turnout Plays Critical Role in Early Outcome of the Presidential Election

Market Watch: Freddy Balsera: ‘How Obama Closed the Deal With Hispanics’

Community Organizers Welcome One of their Own to the White House

cccThe following is a statement from Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change (FIRM’s homebase).

The Center for Community Change is an organization that has been developing community organizers and community organizing for 40 years, in partnership with hundreds of local organizations nationwide.

“Community organizers across the country congratulate the historic victory of one of our own and herald the role community organizing played in revitalizing participation in our democratic process.

“Community organizing helped mobilize voters like never before with grassroots organizations engaging in electoral politics. Sen. Obama’s own campaign was modeled on the tools of organizing, building the national groundswell that got him to this moment.

“Election Day is just the beginning. Community organizing will continue to play an important role in keeping an expectant and motivated electorate working together with the new Administration to find solutions for our shared problems. Together we will strive to realize the dream we voted for – an America that works for all of us.”

On December 4, thousands of grassroots leaders will host Realizing the Promise: A forum on Community, Faith and Democracy to lay out a strategy to work with President-elect Obama and the new Congress on the people’s agenda for change.