Tag: 2008 election

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BrazilianImmigration NewsLatino

Latin America to U.S.: Tsk-Tsk

Brazilian President Lula da Silva at the U.N. Tuesday.

Brazilian President Lula da Silva at the U.N. Tuesday.

Miami is sometimes half-jokingly called “the capital of Latin America,” for its concentration of Latin American expats, Latin American corporation headquarters and even vacation homes for the region’s richest. No wonder then that both Senators John McCain and Barack Obama opted to outline their potential foreign policy towards the region while campaigning in Florida last week. Both candidates gave interviews to Radio Caracol that made headlines, each in its own way.

The highlight of McCain’s appearance was his apparent confusion as to Spain’s location and who its prime minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero is [you can listen to it here.] A story on the incident in The Sydney Morning Herald was headlined “The brain in McCain under strain about Spain.” However, a campaign advisor denied there was any confusion, which can only hurt Spanish pride.

In respect to Latin America, McCain expressed coldness for the more anti-American leftist leaders in the region and support for Mexico’s Felipe Calderón in his war against drug cartels.

Obama, in turn, projected a more empathetic stance towards the region, admitting that the U.S. “has been so obsessed with Iraq that we haven’t spent time focused on the situation in Latin America.” He also seemed to defend his position on a potential meeting with Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who the McCain camp featured in an attack ad on Spanish-language TV this week:

I think it’s important for us to not overreact to Chavez. I think what we have to do is just let Chavez know that we don’t want him exporting anti-American sentiment and causing trouble in the region, but that we are interested in having a respectful dialogue with everybody in Latin America in terms of figuring out how we can improve the day to day lives of people.

Most people in Latin America would agree that the U.S. has not paid attention to the region so far this century. A lot of them, however, would probably view that as a good thing. Most Latin Americans consider the much-disliked free-market economic policies of the ’90s known as the Washington Consensus to have been forced on the region by the U.S. and the multilateral organizations on which it generally exerts commanding control, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. (more…)

DetroitImmigration News

Former President Fox in Detroit: A Mexican Viewpoint on Immigration Reform and the US Presidential Election

Vicente Fox at Wayne State University
Vicente Fox at Wayne State University. (Photo: Centro Fox)

A capacity crowd of activists, politicians, students and intellectuals from the Detroit metro area gathered at Wayne State University Sept. 12 to listen to former Mexican President Vicente Fox give a lecture on “Globalization and Immigration.” Those attending the highly publicized event were eager to hear Fox’s thoughts on immigration from the Mexican perspective.

While the immigration debate has mostly been put in the back burner -as opposed to the economy and the Iraq war- during the 2008 campaign, Fox said he believes the issue will be front and center and could be used as a wedge issue as we get closer to the November 4 election.

When asked about his thoughts on the current debate, Fox said the discussion was “misleading, full of destruction and lack of factual information.” He went on to say that the immigration debate needs to be more objective and that the American people, as well as the media, are uninformed.

According to the Employment Policy Foundation, the United States has a systemic labor shortage that is expected to transform the workplace over the next 25 to 30 years, as baby boomers retire. In this context, while the United States needs and benefits from immigrant labor, Fox said, Mexico suffers from the northward migration in the long term, losing its human capital.

“All this energy, all this talent is needed in Mexico for the development of the nation and the competitiveness of the economy,” Fox said.

Immigration regulation is key to changing the current dialogue. Fox said he supports legislation like the failed McCain-Kennedy bill, proposed in 2005. The plan would have allowed illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before Jan. 7, 2004, and who have jobs, to work legally for an additional six years and eventually become citizens, after paying fines and meeting certain citizenship requirements.

(more…)

Immigration News

Reporter's Notebook: A Russian American Journalist at the Republican Convention

This article was written by Ari Kagan who is in Minnesota to cover the Republican National Convention under a project sponsored by Feet in Two Worlds and the New York Community Media Alliance.

Dr. Solomon Bayevsky, an 85-years-old resident of Menorah Plaza Apartments in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, book writer and Persian culture scholar, knows a few things about war. He was just 19 years old, when he was badly injured during the fierce fighting against the Nazis at Stalingrad in 1943. “We don’t need more wars,” said the immigrant from Mogilev, Belarus. “With John McCain America will start a new war with Iran, and maybe even with China (over Taiwan) or Russia.” Bayevsky, who lost the use of his right arm in the war, added, “we will stay in Iraq much longer than we need. I will vote for Barack Obama because he will finish the Iraq war, will use more tough diplomacy in other conflicts, and because he is young, smart and energetic. I also like the Democratic approach toward immigrants and low-income people.”

Listen to an interview with Dr. Solomon Beyevsky by Feet in Two Worlds executive producer John Rudolph.

[audio:http://www.xrew.com/joceimgs/FI2W/fi2w_rnc_solomon.mp3]

Bayevsky’s opinion is not entirely shared by his neighbors, many of them Russian Jewish immigrants who live in this quiet retirement home in a suburb of Minneapolis. Some praised McCain and expressed reservations about Obama’s message of change. But everybody here is ready to vote on September 4 to choose the next president. Most Russian seniors in St. Louis Park receive their information about presidential politics either from Russian-language TV and newspapers or from their children who tend to vote for Republicans.

Listen to an interview with Leonid Kerbel. Mr. Kerbel, 75, immigrated to the US in 1994, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. He was a tennis coach in the USSR, and still stays in shape by playing tennis. Here he explains to John Rudolph why he plans to vote for John McCain.

[audio:http://www.xrew.com/joceimgs/FI2W/fi2w_rnc_leonid.mp3]

DSCN4271
Ari Kagan (left) interviews a resident of the Menorah Plaza Apartments in St. Louis Park, Minnesota about the 2008 presidential election.

My visit to the local Russian community was at the end of the first weird day of the Republican National Convention in Saint Paul. The most visible and noisy event of the day was not the convention or appearances by Laura Bush and Cindy McCain who urged delegates to donate money to the Gustav Hurricane relief fund. Instead the biggest media attraction in Minnesota was an anti-war march near the State Capitol. While the main part of this rally (about 8,000 people) was peaceful and predictable, one group of violent self-proclaimed anarchists (about 200 people) behaved and looked like underground terrorists. These young marchers, in dark clothing, and with bandannas over their faces, smashed the windows of a Macy’s department store, slashed the tires of a police car, tried to block the Republican delegates’ buses, and threw various objects at police. Some of them held signs like “Thank God for Gustav,” “Fag McCain,” and “God hates Palin”.

I was pleasantly surprised to see how local police exercised the necessary restraint. Hundreds of cops, sweltering in heavy riot gear on a very hot day, protected delegates and streets from some of the craziest protesters. As a Russian-speaking Jew, who immigrated to America in search for freedom and capitalism, I shook my head when I saw some of the more peaceful marchers with anti-Israel, anti-capitalism and anti-American placards. I am no fan of George W. Bush or his war policies, but I don’t think that signs like “Free Palestine: support the right of return” or “Stop American aggression and idiocy!” were effective in terms of spreading the anti-war message. But we have freedom of speech, so even some radical views could be heard here. That is the beauty of America.

Ari Kagan is Senior Editor for Vecherniy New York, a Russian-language newspaper, and host of the weekly TV show “Here in America” on RTN – the Russian Television Network of America.

Immigration News

Latinos Expected to Vote in Record Numbers this November: Could Help Turn Red States Blue

At least 9.2 million Latinos are expected to vote in November’s presidential election according to a report released Thursday by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials. If the estimate is correct, it would represent an increase of more than one million Latino voters compared to the 2004 election.

The number is considered “merely a floor” rather than a ceiling by NALEO, which issued the 64-page report on the potential impact of Latinos in this election cycle. If Latino voter turnout in this year’s primaries is an indicator, the report says the Latino vote could spike even higher in the general election and represent a record percentage of the overall vote in key battleground states. “Changing demographics and rising political participation in the Latino community are redefining the American political landscape,” Senators Ken Salazar and Robert Menendez wrote in the report. “More than any time in the history of our great country, Latino voices and Latino voters will be at the center of the 2008 election, helping to determine the direction our country takes at this critical juncture.”

Primaries Demonstrated Power of Latino Vote
Latinos have already proved they are a formidable voting block, providing the margin of victory for Sen. Hillary Clinton in the Texas and Ohio Democratic primaries and for Sen. John McCain in his decisive win in the Florida GOP primary, according to the NALEO report. The modified primary calendar provided ethnic minorities with more of a say in the presidential nominating process. Seventy-nine percent of the nation’s Latinos live in states that held primaries or caucuses on or before March 4th.

Democrats appeared to benefit the most from the turnout. “Latino Democratic turnout in some major states with large Latino populations doubled, tripled and even quintupled between 2004 and 2008,” the NALEO report found. Latino turnout may be a key to victory for Democrats in the general election, since at least five of the fourteen swing states that the Party hopes to turn blue have sizeable Latino populations.

Florida Remains the State to Watch
Not surprisingly, NALEO points to Florida as the state to watch in the 2008 election. Though Florida’s Latino population has historically trended Republican, an influx of Latinos from South and Central America, as well as Puerto Ricans in Central Florida, have created a sizeable electorate that could vote Democratic. Latinos who are registered Democratic in the state outnumber Latino registered Republicans by 35.3 percent to 33.5 percent. A third of registered of Latinos are unaffiliated and may be up for grabs by both parties. NALEO projects that more than one million Latino voters in Florida will cast their ballot in November’s presidential election.

Latino Turnout Could Be Even Higher
Nationwide more than 17 million Latinos are eligible to vote. One factor that could push the number higher is the swelling ranks of Latinos naturalized as US citizens. The overall number of naturalization applications doubled from 2006 to 2007 to 1.4 million applicants according to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Due to a backlog in processing applications, however, the government agency estimates that will finish processing only 80 percent of the applications filed in 2007 in time for the election. Historically, turnout by naturalized Latinos is higher than those who are native born, according to the Census Bureau.

The immigration debate has also galvanized the Latino electorate, according to the NALEO report. “The last two years have seen the mass mobilization of Latinos in reaction to our nation’s widely publicized immigration debate,” the report says. “The intense current debate has already affected Latino naturalizations, and many Latino applicants for citizenship are motivated in part by the desire to make their voices heard.” However, the report concluded that it is unclear how much of the political reaction to the debate would translate into Latino turnout in the election.