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Latino Voters and the Caravan
Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert Peggy Sands Orchowski -- Immigration Expert
Washington , DC
Thursday, October 25, 2018


Latino Voters and the Caravan

By Peggy Orchowski

 "The number of Latinos who vote and are elected to office possibly will increase slightly – by 5 percent or so - in this primary election, reported the Director of NALEO (the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials) at a press briefing in Washington DC on Oct. 24.  NALEO is a non-partisan organization that for decades has encouraged the hispanic-heritage population in the United States to become engaged citizens and to vote. NALEO research indicates that a possible increase of "Latino" voters in a few key states like Arizona and Texas may be significant to flip a seat from one party to another, although the increase of Latino voters includes both Democrats and Republicans -- the latter casting about 27 percent of the total Latino vote in 2016.

 But Director Antonio Vargas told the press he did not yet know what impact on voters the "caravan" would have – the growing cluster of some 14,000 mainly young adult men from central America, who are crossing into Mexico illegally and insist they intend to come into the United States no matter what, legally or illegally.  Vargas could not say if the caravan's march would favor or not either Democrats or Republicans,  Immigration is not the default issue of the highly diverse Latino electorate.

The Los Angeles Times in an editorial on October 19 called the caravan numbers "a drop in the immigration bucket and poses no significant risk. President Trump is proving once again that he has little awareness of, or much appreciation for the reasons so many Central American families continue to flow northward once again in search of a sanctuary from violence".

As a senior non-partisan credential congressional correspondent who has covered evolving immigration laws and politics for over a decade and written two books about it here's my take on the caravan's possible impact on the 2018 midterm election.  IMHO, the caravan's march at this time is to the Democratic primary, what the Black Lives Matter (BLM) activists' taking over the mics of Hilary and Bernie was in the 2016 election: bad timing just before a close election with really bad visuals showing Democrats to be weak liberals unable to stand up to bullies and for order and the rule of law -- not even for their own mic time and message. That perception probably helped Donald Trump win the presidency.

Enabling caravans of tens of thousands of migrants to abuse the asylum system and overwhelm the U.S. border patrol and legal border entry process is simply not right to most Americans.  The sight of thousands of mainly young male adults defying Mexican and U.S. immigration laws is a negative visual.  It gives the impression that Democrats are weak in standing up for our national sovereignty and unquestioned right to protect our borders from masses of migrants pretending to be asylees.

The Los Angeles Times calls resistance to the migrant caravans "nativism".   Yet even President Obama said in 2015 during the surge of "unaccompanied minors" (UAMs) and young adults over our border that summer, that the majority of these migrants' claims for refugee and asylum status would not be validated. Especially since most had paid often thousands of dollars and crossed through thousands of miles of safe refuge to get to the US border.

Our generous asylum laws unfortunately and obviously have become too easy to abuse.  What the LATimes considers to be a normal "drop in the bucket" is actually an increase to some 43,000 migrants demanding asylee status A MONTH – that's almost half a million a year.  Expect the asylum laws allowing anyone entering the country illegally to demand status as an asylee, to be changed in the coming weeks.  No matter what the outcome of the election in Congress, the Republicans hold the majority till January 2019 – the beginning of the (sigh!) presidential election season.  The Democrats in Congress would be smart to consider exercising tough love when it comes to protecting our immigration laws and our borders from blatant abuse.

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“We can’t know where we’re going if we don’t know where we’ve been”. Vice President of the Brookings Institution Darrell West wrote in recommending Peggy Sands Orchowski’s books   "The Law That Changed The Face of America: The Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965" and  "Immigration and the American Dream: Battling the Political Hype and Hysteria" (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015 and 2008 respectively).  Peggy is a credentialed Senior Congressional journalist in Washington DC. She is available for interviews, article assignments and speaking engagements about immigration   porchowski@hotmail.com

Peggy Sands Orchowski
Senior Congressional Correspondent
Washington, DC
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