These are hard times to be a politically third-generation Latino American who cares deeply about immigration and immigrants, but also cares about the economy, health care and education issues.
To listen to the political debates occurring within the conservative movement, one would think that the country is in serious trouble and Latinos and immigrants are to blame.
It is not just that some conservative candidates have used derisive language about Latinos, such as Trump’s infamous “rapists and murderers” comment. There is also the “they’re taking our jobs, they are stealing our social services, they are destroying our country” rhetoric.
By implication they are saying that the country is diminished, because of Latinos and New Americans.
Today the Latino employment is growing faster than all other groups. Latinos are the most uninsured population in the country, but with Obamacare they have been moving in the right direction. In the schools, Hispanics make up one in five children in public kindergarten classrooms. High school dropout rates are at an all-time low, while high school and college graduation rates are at all-time highs.
Democratic debate offered a clear contrast between a group of folks who embrace America as it including the contributions of Hispanics and conservatives who are sowing fear and discomfort with a changing country. The Democratic debate was a stark contrast from the positions outlined by the Republican candidates.
Addressing comprehensive immigration reform. While Sanders did vote for the 2013 Senate Immigration reform bill; Bernie Sanders explained that vote was due to his concerns around guest worker programs and potential worker exploitation. Former Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed comprehensive reform. Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley explained that immigration is a positive contribution for all Americans, highlighting a report from the Congressional Budget Office. Former Virginia Senator Jim Webb said, “I actually introduced an amendment in the 2007 immigration bill … giving a pathway to citizenship to those people who had come here.”
Healthcare access for undocumented immigrants. O’Malley’s immigration plan includes allowing undocumented immigrants to enroll in Obamacare. Clinton said she supports “the opportunity for immigrants to be able to buy in to the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act”.
Increasing educational opportunities for young undocumented immigrants. Both Sanders and O’Malley have publicly supported policies that allow undocumented students to pay the same in-state college tuition rates as other students. Clinton said: “My plan would support any state that takes that position, and would work with those states and encourage more states to do the same thing… if their states agree.”
O’Malley, added “the more our children learn, the more they will earn, and that’s true of children who have yet to be naturalized but will become American citizens.”