Tag: politics

Immigration NewsLatino

Solís Confirmation Hits Another Snag: Obama's Cabinet Could End Up With Only One Latino Member

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

While her would-be successors are already lining up in Los Angeles, the confirmation of U.S. Rep. Hilda Solís as the next secretary of labor has been held up in the Senate, apparently due to her husband’s tax problems.

AP)

Hilda Solís (Photo: USA Today/AP)

As Feet In 2 Worlds noted in December, Solís was one of the three big hopes for Latinos who are looking for greater representation in Pres. Barack Obama’s cabinet. Of the other two, former Sen. Ken Salazar, the new secretary of the interior, is the only one who has been confirmed. New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson withdrew his name from consideration as secretary of commerce over a federal investigation into his administration’s dealings with a consulting company.

Solís, the 51-year-old daughter of a Mexican father and a Nicaraguan mother, is the latest Obama nominee to have to explain unpaid taxes — although the problem does not arise from her own taxes, unlike the cases of Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, and the former nominees for secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, and White House chief performance officer, Nancy Killefer.

The would-be labor official’s problems started after USA Today revealed Thursday there were 15 outstanding tax liens against Sam’s Foreign and Domestic Auto Center, a company owned by Solís’ husband, Sam Sayyad. A hearing by the Senate’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee was postponed Thursday afternoon to give the administration time to look into the tax matter and report back to the committee, according to the newspaper.

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Immigration NewsLos Angeles

In Hilda Solís’ L.A. District, A Congressional Race Is Already Heating Up

By Pilar Marrero, La Opinión reporter and FI2W contributor

The delay in Congresswoman Hilda Solís’ confirmation as secretary of labor hasn’t kept two ambitious politicians from racing hard to replace Solís as the U.S. representative from California’s 32nd District in Los Angeles.

Gil Cedillo.

Gil Cedillo.

There is no official election date yet –it has to be set by the governor after the seat is vacated–, but there has already been some drama and controversy behind the scenes between State Sen. Gil Cedillo and Board of Equalization Vice Chair Judy Chu.

First, the potential candidacy of another Latina, State Sen. Gloria Romero, spurred talk of a division in the vote that would cause the loss of a seat that a Latino has held for about 25 years.

But Romero decided instead to focus her ambitions on an obscure race for School Superintendent of California that she had planned beforehand.

Some suggested there had been pressure to get Romero not to run for this seat, and that Hilda Solís herself was behind the effort to get her long-time political ally Judy Chu to succeed her. Solís has not officially endorsed anyone, but it’s widely known that Chu and her have been tight and have supported each other’s campaigns for many years.

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Immigration NewsPodcast

Podcast: Michael Steele, a Republican Chairman Who Understands the Challenge of Reaching Minorities

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Steele.

Steele. (Photo: ABC News)

The election of former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele to the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee has been hailed by some as yet another effect of Barack Obama’s ascent to the presidency.

“It took the election of the nation’s first African-American president, one who won landslide margins among blacks, Latinos and Asians, to convince the GOP of its need to expand its appeal beyond its overwhelmingly white base,” Charles Mathesian writes in Politico.

It remains to be seen if Steele’s designation is the first step, or a false start, in GOP efforts to expand its tent to try to include a majority of minorities in the nation. It is clear, at least, that Steele is well aware of his party’s need to reach out to those voters it has left mostly unattended for generations.

Last September, Feet In 2 Worlds executive producer John Rudolph interviewed Steele at the Republican National Convention in Minneapolis, where he was one of the few African Americans to address the GOP delegates. (Still, it was Steele who came up with the convention’s likely most memorable phrase: “Drill, baby, drill.”)

In that interview, Steele acknowledged that the McCain campaign made “no effort” to counterbalance the surge of support for Obama among African Americans and that Republicans had “literally, dropped the ball” when it came to going after the black vote.

You can listen to the whole interview by pressing Play below.

[audio:http://www.jocelyngonzales.net/FI2W/fi2w_msteele.mp3]
Immigration NewsPolish

Polish Immigrant's Dream: Polish-Americans Will Help Elect Him To Congress

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska, Polish Daily News and FI2W reporter
Victor Forys

Victor Forys

Rod Blagojevich, the Illinois governor under investigation, may have had the power to pick a replacement to fill President Barack Obama’s vacated Senate seat. But the governor does not get to choose a new representative from the 5th Congressional District, a position he once held, and which was left vacant in early January when Rahm Emanuel resigned from his congressional seat to become the new White House Chief of Staff.

A special election will be held on April 7 to fill the seat, after a primary on March 3. One of the 15 Democrats in the race is a Polish immigrant: Dr. Victor Forys, a political newcomer who believes he has a serious chance due to the area’s large Polish-American population.

Numerous Polish-Americans held the seat in the past, including disgraced congressman Dan Rostenkowski who, prior to his conviction on corruption charges, served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Martin Gorski, who, like Mr. Forys, was born in Poland and came to the U.S. as a child.

Out of approximately 650,000 residents in the district, more than 111,000 (17%) are of Polish descent.

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Immigration News

Is Senator-Designate Gillibrand Shifting Her Position On Immigration?

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor
Gillibrand

Gillibrand (Image: El Diario/AP)

The immigration-related backlash against the designation of Kirsten Gillibrand continued over the weekend, when New York’s main Hispanic newspaper El Diario/La Prensa called the congresswoman “a disappointing choice” to succeed Hillary Clinton as U.S. Senator from New York.

In the meantime, Gillibrand –who will take the oath of office Tuesday— met with Queens elected officials and local leaders and promised to be more open-minded about the issue.

She also gave a one-on-one interview to local news channel NY1. Some of her remarks were interpreted as a shift in tone on the hotly-contested issue of immigration reform, although after listening to the entire interview that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“I think amnesty is the wrong approach,” Gillibrand said, in the quote that El Diario highlighted. “I would do it very differently, I would right-size immigration and make sure that every person who wants to be working in this country legally has a way to be here legally and to come in properly and make it so that they never have to worry about it.”

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Immigration News

In New York, Immigrant Advocates Join the Chorus Questioning Gillibrand's Nomination to U.S. Senate

Anti-gun activists are howling against Gov. David Patterson’s nomination of Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand to succeed Hillary Clinton as the junior senator from New York.

But the Second Amendment isn’t the only issue likely to cause trouble for Gillibrand, judging from a statement released Friday by the New York Immigration Coalition.

“Now that she will be representing a far broader and more diverse constituency, Senator-Designee Gillibrand must reconsider her positions on immigration,” Chung-Wha Hong, the NYIC’s executive director, said in the statement.

As a U.S. representative, Hong said, Gillibrand has taken positions on immigration “that are deeply troubling, to say the least.”

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Latino

Today They Celebrate, Tomorrow They March For Immigration Reform

*Note: This post includes an update after the march, at the end.

Today is a day for celebration across the land. Tomorrow the real task of governing begins for some, and for others the work of lobbying and pushing for reform starts. Before the dust of the inauguration has time to settle a group of pro-immigrant organizations will hold a march in Washington D.C. for “just and humane” immigration reform. (See more below.)

Latino civil leaders and lobbying organizations intend to keep the issue in the front burner despite a new nationwide poll showing the economy, not immigration, is Latinos’ top concern.

Latino leaders reminded the incoming administration just that Monday during the Latino State of the Union gathering, organized by the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund and the League of United Latin American Citizens.

anewdayforimmigration.org

FIRM banner displayed on D.C. cabs this month. (Photo: anewdayforimmigration.org)

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Latino

Immigrant Students, DREAM Act Supporters Hoping Obama Will Take Up Their Cause

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

As the much-anticipated presidential inauguration of Barack Obama approaches, one group of immigrant activists in particular is feverishly pushing for their cause to be heard by the incoming president. They are young undocumented immigrant students who grew up in the U.S. and their supporters, who are hoping that the new administration will push for passage of the DREAM Act, a law that would allow the students to become U.S. citizens provided they meet certain conditions.

Undocumented students, hoping to come out of the shadows.

Hoping to come out of the shadows. (Video capture: ADreamDeferred.org)

Their cause got an extra bit of support through an online contest organized by Change.org, a social action network (not to be confused with the president-elect’s website Change.gov.)

For the last few weeks, the site hosted an online vote to select “the best ten ideas for change,” which will be announced today at an event at the National Press Club.

The contest was born as a response to Obama’s call to Americans to get involved in their government. “We started the Ideas for Change in America initiative in the hope that we could translate the energy behind the Obama election into a citizen-led movement for change around the major issues we face,” the organizers said.

Thousands of ideas were submitted and over 600,000 votes were cast. Activists for causes as varied as marijuana legalization, gay marriage, and green energy mobilized to make their voices heard and to gather votes for their ideas. As of 5pm EST Thursday, when the vote closed, passage of the DREAM Act stood in eighth place, making it one of the ten winners. (Marijuana legalization was first.)

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Latino

Richardson Withdraws From Obama Cabinet And Latino Representation Now Looks Slim

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

Richardson and Obama.

Unless another Latino is nominated to be secretary of commerce, Bill Richardson’s exit will leave Latino cabinet representation in the Obama administration at the same level as the Clinton and Bush administrations.

The New Mexico Governor, and would-be highest-profile Latino politician in the incoming Obama administration, has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post of secretary of commerce, a position to which he had been nominated by the President-elect with considerable fanfare in early December.

Richardson stepped down because of uncertainty over the success of his confirmation process – uncertainty caused by a federal investigation into his administration’s dealings with a consulting firm that donated $100,000 to two of his political action committees.

While Richardson said he was confident he and his aides will be eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, he decided to withdraw from the Obama team to avoid delays in the confirmation process. He will stay on as governor of New Mexico.

Richardson — who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination before throwing his support to Obama (despite his longtime association with the Clintons) — apparently had expected to become Obama’s main Latino official, not only dealing with Commerce matters, but also helping improve the currently very cool U.S. relationship with Latin America.  He had also been mentioned as a candidate for secretary of state, and the naming of Hillary Clinton to that post instead caused discomfort in some Latino quarters.

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CommentaryLatino

The Year Of The Latino Vote, The Giant That Finally Awoke

By Diego Graglia, FI2W web editor

By Diego Graglia, web editor

Diego Graglia, web editor

Latino political leaders have been touting the potential power of Latino voters for years. Though we knew that demographics would end up proving them right sooner or later, their discourse was starting to sound like they had hired The Boy Who Cried Wolf as a spokesman.

Then, 2008 happened.

The November presidential election became the quinceañera party where the Latino vote was introduced in the grand ballroom of American politics as a powerful voting bloc which can have an important role in deciding a nationwide election. (As we’ve already said before, there are many, extremely varied “Latino votes,” but we use the term here to simplify — though not oversimplify — matters.)

Both exit polls and post-Election Day surveys showed that Latino advocates’ turnout predictions had been fulfilled: over 10 million Latinos voted, as compared with 7.6 million in the 2004 presidential election and over 6 million in 2000. An America’s Voice poll [get the pdf here] claims Latinos were 9 percent of the electorate, “approximately 11 million voters.”

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