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Archive for July, 2008

In this election year, the economic woes of Latinos may take precedence over other issues…

The number of Americans who have seen their full-time jobs chopped to part time because of weak business has swelled to more than 3.7 million – the largest figure since the government began tracking such data more than a half-century ago.

The loss of pay has become a primary source of pain for millions of American families, reinforcing the downturn gripping the economy. Paychecks are shrinking just as home prices plunge and gas prices soar, furthering the austerity across the nation.

“I either stop eating, or stop using anything I can,” said Marvin Zinn, a clerk at a Walgreens drugstore in St. Joseph, Mich., who has seen his take-home pay drop to about $550 every two weeks from about $650, as his weekly hours have dropped to 37.5 from 44 in recent months.

Zinn has run up nearly $2,000 in credit card debt to buy food. He has put off dental work. Zinn no longer attends church, he said, “because I can’t afford to drive.”

To judge from the surface, the job market is weak but hardly desperate. Layoffs remain less frequent than in many economic downturns, and the unemployment rate is a relatively modest 5.5 percent. But that figure masks the strains of those who are losing hours or working part time because they cannot find full-time work – a stealth force that is eroding American spending power.

All told, people the government classifies as working part time involuntarily – predominantly those who have lost hours or cannot find full-time work – swelled to 5.3 million last month, a jump of greater than 1 million over the past year.

These workers now amount to 3.7 percent of all those employed, up from 3 percent a year ago, and the highest level since 1995.

“This increase is startling,” said Steve Hipple, an economist at the Labor Department.

The loss of hours has been affecting men in particular – and Latino men more so. Among those who were forced into part-time work between spring 2007 and spring 2008, 73 percent were men and 35 percent were Hispanic.

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McCain has long opposed quotas but his new support for ending affirmative action programs which stop short of quotas puts him at odds not only with Democratic rival Barack Obama but also with the Arizona senator’s own views in 1998.

Back then, when the legislature in McCain’s home state of Arizona considered sending the voters a measure to end affirmative action, McCain spoke out against it calling it “divisive.”

McCain’s campaign does not dispute that the Arizona senator spoke out against the 1998 effort to end affirmative action in his home state.

When asked about the apparent change in position, a McCain spokesman was not able to distinguish the two measures.

“I do not have a firm enough grasp on the historical and relevant context of McCain’s remark in 1998 to give you the pushback that this question deserves,” McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds told ABC News.

McCain’s critics on the left charge that he has changed his position on affirmative action in order to shore up his support among conservatives.

“This is clearly an election-year flip flop and a pander to a skeptical right-wing base,” said John Kraus, spokesman for the liberal Ballot Initiative Strategy Center. “He has put politics first on this issue. There is no other way around it.”

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Many believe that the Democratic party will win the Latino vote in November, the question that remains is by how much and what can Republicans do it about….

With traditionally Republican Colorado now in contention, the ever-increasing Latino population may prove decisive in the 2008 election cycle, with both parties striving to add Hispanic votes to their column.

Recent waves of immigration have made Hispanic-Americans the state’s fastest-growing demographic as well as its largest — and most politically powerful — minority group. According to U.S. Census Bureau surveys conducted in 2006, the Hispanic population has more than doubled since 1990, with roughly one out of every five Coloradoans and one out of every 10 Colorado voters self-identifying as Latino.

In 2004, Ken Salazar (D-Denver) became Colorado’s first Hispanic U.S. Senator, while his brother John Salazar (D-Manassa) became the 3rd Congressional District’s representative in the U.S. House.

Proposed federal immigration reform also added controversy to state politics, perhaps most noticeably with U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Littleton), who gained national attention for his strong anti-illegal immigration stance. The highly publicized debate has led to an increased politicization and sense of marginalization among many members of the community. When the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials held one of its series of Ya Es Hora! Voter Forums in Denver, they found that nearly all of the randomly selected participants reported having come in contact with some form of discrimination.

Tancredo spokesman Tyler Quill Houlton disputed Baca’s accusations about the Republican Party’s electoral future.

“I think it’s a misguided assertion that because Congressman Tancredo is tough on border security that the Republicans will lose votes,” Houlton said, noting instances in which “pro-amnesty” politicians were ousted from office.

Although Baca said that many Latinos have come to associate Tancredo with the Republican Party in general, and are largely unaware that he’s retiring, she also believes that Democrats have yet to completely “wrap up” Colorado’s Hispanic vote.

“Ninety percent of Hispanics voted for President Kennedy, something more like 55 percent supported John Kerry,” Baca noted. “I think that you’ve had a traditional majority of Hispanic voters be Democrats, and I think you’ll see that continue. The question is ‘what percentage?'”

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Many of the members of the CHC that had previously supported Hillary Clinton praised Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to Latinos.

Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama‘s campaign’s decision to use $20 million to reach out to Latino voters has drawn praise from members of Congress.

Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus said the campaign’s effort to target Latino voters in Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico is unprecedented, The Hill reported Tuesday.

Reps. Hilda Solis, D-Calif., and Rep. Jose Serrano, D-N.Y., supporters of Clinton, said Obama’s overall message of change and outreach efforts will have the desired effect.

“That love that the Latino community had for Hillary and has for Hillary is also a love for true change in America,” Serrano said. “On Nov. 4, New York will become Obama country.”

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20 million dollar plan will be focused on key swing states such as New Mexico and will also include John McCain’s home state of Arizona…

Barack Obama and the Democratic National Committee are expected to unveil a $20 million investment in Hispanic voter mobilization Tuesday that targets most major battleground states.

DNC Chairman Howard Dean said the sum is unprecedented for a presidential campaign and represents a show of Democratic confidence that Latino voters could prove pivotal in states including New Mexico and Michigan.

Although Republican rival John McCain represents Arizona, a state with a strong Hispanic presence, Dean cited a poll last week by the Pew Hispanic Center showing Obama’s approval rating with registered Latino voters at 66 percent nationwide, compared with 23 percent for McCain.

“We need to cement that,” Dean said of the Pew lead. “There’s enormous potential in the Latino population.”

Targets will include Florida; Western states such as Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico; and Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan, industrial battlegrounds with sizable Hispanic populations. The money will be spent on niche advertising and other outreach, along with mobilization efforts aimed at identifying, registering and turning out new Democratic voters.

Over the weekend, the campaign held a training session in Las Vegas to teach local organizers how to canvass Hispanic communities. A similar forum will be held soon in Florida, Dean said, and sessions in other states are in the planning stages.

The investment is intended to benefit other Democratic candidates as well, including high-profile House and Senate races in Colorado, New Mexico and Florida.

Washington Post 

 

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In Maricopa, Arizona authorities are using controversial tactics in an effort to curb illegal immigration…

Maricopa, which includes Phoenix, is home to more than half of Arizona’s 6.2 million people. It is also the domain of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, who is determined to make life miserable for illegal immigrants. Trouble is, “Sheriff Joe,” as he is universally known, isn’t too particular about how he and his men identify illegal immigrants, or whether they also harass legal immigrants such as Mr. Ortega, or, for that matter, American citizens who happen to be Hispanic. “We know how to determine whether these guys are illegal,” Mr. Arpaio told the Chicago Tribune recently, “the way the situation looks, how they are dressed, where they are coming from.

Sheriff Joe likes to refer to his blatantly unconstitutional campaign of harassment as “crime suppression sweeps.” These “sweeps” have been denounced not only by Latino groups, which consider them overtly racist, but also by the mayor of Phoenix, who has asked the Justice Department to investigate, and by Gov. Janet Napolitano, who has withdrawn state funding from the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff loves describing himself as a tough guy and delights in humiliating prisoners by, among other things, making them wear pink underwear and swelter in open-air camps. He has gotten away with it — even won reelection — thanks to his colorful public persona and an electorate rattled by the demographic changes caused by immigration, legal and illegal. He denies allegations of racial profiling even as his deputies practice something that looks awfully like it. It’s high time for federal authorities, or courts, to step in to halt what has become a travesty of justice in Arizona.

Washington Post

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Despite the fact that McCain shares the social views of Evangelical Latinos, his party’s depiction of immigrants may to blame for his inability to win their support…

McCain’s Latino problem looks to be most pronounced among Protestant Latinos, who had seemed to be the GOP’s doorway into the Hispanic population. From 2000 to 2004, Protestant Latinos increased their share of the total Hispanic electorate from 25 percent to 32 percent, in large part because of Bush’s evangelical outreach and strategic microtargeting of the community. Even as turnout increased, support for Bush among the group rose from 44 percent in 2000 to 56 percent in 2004.

The results of the Pew Hispanic Center poll which were released last week. Show that only a third of Protestant or Evangelical Hispanics intend to vote for McCain, while 59 percent support Obama — who also enjoys a 50-percentage-point lead among Catholic Latinos, long a solid bloc of the Democratic coalition.

While McCain and Bush have similar views on most social issues, including abortion, McCain’s candidacy may mark a return to an era of blue-blooded Republicans less vocal about their religious beliefs. Barack Obama, by contrast, speaks comfortably and frequently about his faith.

The biggest reason for the shift, though, has been the heated debate over immigration reform that has alienated many Hispanic voters previously receptive to the GOP — and that nearly cost McCain, a co-sponsor of the bipartisan 2006 immigration reform bill that inflamed conservatives, his party’s nomination.

In the 2006 midterm election, exit polls showed Latino support for Democrats had increased by 16 percentage points from 2004, compared to a six-percentage-point increase among whites.

Politico

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