Viewpoint: The Power of the Asian and Latino Vote

Asians and Latinos made key differences in battleground states, driven by a common desire for immigration reform.

  • Share
  • Read Later
ALESSIO ROMENZI for TIME

Las Estellitas, a Mexican restaurant in Chicago, is turned into a polling station on Nov. 6, 2012

The Nov. 6 election signaled a demographic tipping point: a record number of Latino and Asian voters, the country’s fastest-growing voting blocs, formed a coalition with black and white Democratic voters to re-elect the country’s first African-American President. A new American majority — a multiethnic majority — has not only arrived but is in fact reordering the political landscape.

(MORE: Why the GOP Will Double Down on a Losing Strategy)

The election’s results also represent a turning point — a defining moment — for immigration, an issue that was barely discussed in the final months of the campaign yet surely played an outsize role in turning out voters, particularly Asians and Latinos.

In a close contest in which every vote counted, Asians and Latinos made the difference in key states. An influx of Asian voters in Virginia helped Obama carry that swing state. Exit polls show that in the battleground states of Nevada, Colorado and Florida, Latino voters clinched the win for the President. Though the economy and the budget deficit were key issues of concern for Latinos and Asians — as they are with all voting blocs — immigration was near the top of the list.

That’s because immigration is a personal issue. According to Latino Vote 2012, which analyzed turnout in states with sizable Hispanic electorates, a majority of Latino voters say they personally know someone who is undocumented. That’s not a surprise, given that millions of undocumented people live in what’s called a mixed-status family. At least 17 million people who are legally living in the U.S. have at least one undocumented immigrant in their family, as reported by the Pew Hispanic Center. Furthermore, about 4.5 million U.S.-citizen children and young adults have at least one undocumented parent.

So when Mitt Romney consistently called undocumented people “illegals” — a dehumanizing and pejorative term, considered a slur in immigrant communities — during the primary and general campaigns, he was referring to someone’s mother, someone’s brother, someone’s friend or classmate. And that someone may have voted.

(MORE: Vargas: Immigration Debate: The Problem with the Word Illegal)

I, for one, belong in a mixed-status family; I am the only undocumented person in my large, extended Filipino family. All day on Nov. 6, my grandmother (who raised me), in addition to my aunts, uncles and cousins, called or texted to say that they voted on my behalf. The calls and texts did not come just from my Filipino family. My network of educators, friends and classmates — the people who supported and protected me as an undocumented student and later as an undocumented worker — also reached out and said they too voted on my behalf.

And I and others like me, in turn, encouraged others to vote. Led by undocumented youth known as Dreamers — named after the Dream Act, the more than decade-old legislation that would grant a path to citizenship for children who were schooled and grew up in the U.S. — there was a concerted effort to urge voters to turn out, especially in Nevada, Florida and Colorado. This was part of the winning strategy in Maryland, which became the first state to pass a version of the Dream Act at the ballot box. Across the country, in the months leading up to the election, Dreamers made phone calls and knocked on doors to make sure American citizens did not take their privilege of voting for granted.

(MORE: Not Legal, Not Leaving)

Together, undocumented people like me and our relatives, friends and allies wait for broader immigration reform, not just for Dreamers but also for undocumented workers of all ages and backgrounds who contribute to our economic security and prosperity. Now is the time to come up with a fair, bipartisan and sensible solution to our immigration problem. When Obama spoke of “reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges” facing the country in his victory speech, “fixing our immigration system” was among four issues he listed. For the sake of our country, reform must happen, sooner rather than later. I hope President Obama will make sure of it.

VIDEO: On Election Day, the Arab Spring Comes to Bay Ridge, Brooklyn

95 comments
zaglossus
zaglossus

Time for all this mass immigration to end (I make an exception for certain highly skilled professionals). The country is becoming overpopulated with tremendous strains on our living space and environment. Large swaths of California's farming Central Valley are becoming paved over with housing developments and shopping malls. The Soutbwest will probably run out of enough water this century. Overfishing and logging is rampant. Mass immigration is driving a lot of this. Save America for Americans. To be for immigration and for the environment is a contradictory hypocrisy of many liberals.

zaglossus
zaglossus

One would think reading this that Latino voters have more power than traditional white voters. Driving across this country I still see quite a few of the latter though I admit they are shrinking.

zaglossus
zaglossus

Oh look who we have writing this - Mr. Illegal Alien.

AmberMiller
AmberMiller

Look people, mexicans, filipinos and so on,  have their own country where they are the majority. The policies we see today are intentionally designed by an anti-white Democratic party, which has decided it hates white america and wants to destroy it,  and immigration invasion groups to destroy white America and effectively destroy the United States itself, what it has been for all of its history, forever destroying its traditional qualities and character as a white majority country. This is nothing less than a genocidal war to destroy white america. What is going on here is an attack on every white majority country in north america, and a genocidal war on the white race itself.  This war is one way, while filipinos or mexicans are in no danger of becoming minorities in their own country, Whites are being threatened to be turned into a minority by these invaders in the country white people founded and build, fought and died for. Millions of white americans did not fight and die for the united states so that we would allow the country to be invaded by foreign rapacious invaders and for white america to be destroyed.

It has long been the goal of Mexican and other invasion groups, such as Reconquista and Aztlan Rising, who see the USA as rightfully theirs and a prize to be stolen from white americans, to carry out an immigration invasion of the USA to effectively turn the USA into Mexico. No one in the immigration invasion movement can explain why Mexico is allowed to enforce immigration laws on its own southern border. In fact, the Mexican government each year deports large numbers of persons who cross the southern border of Mexico and has zero tolerance policies for illegal immigration into Mexico. So why. while Mexico is strictly enforcing its own immigration laws, is the United States told we need to have an open border with endless immigration invasions into the US of Mexicans who quite frankly hate white americans and want to steal the country from them?

The fact that mexicans come to the US and have tons of children exposes the true intentions of these people, they are primarily interested in out populating whites and taking over the country by having massive numbers of children. The fact that hispanics and other hispanics, who are allegedly legal voters, would vote for politicians who promise to allow US immigration laws to be wontonly violated in an immigration invasion that is not in the best interests of the United States and that is destroying the countries traditional ethnic demographics and character, shows that hispanics and these other immigrants loyalties and solidarity is not with the United States but it lies with Mexico. If the hispanics were not entirely loyal to Mexico they would not vote for politicians that want an immigration flood into the United States adn want to reward people for breaking US laws.

While mexico would never allow a mass immigration invasion that would make mexicans a minority in their own country, Americans are being told we have to allow our country to be invaded by mexicans, who then produce huge numbers iof children in the US, steal our jobs, are destroying our middle class and defraud our welfare.  The immigration invasions are one way, clearly destroying white America and the white majority in the US while there is no danger of mexicans losing their majority in Mexico, or Filipinos losing their majority in the Phillipines,  due to the double standard which clearly is designed to allow the US to be invaded by Mexicans and other invasion groups.

Connected to these immigration invasion groups are extremist, anti american, anti white, self hating communist and socialist radicals in the USA which have since the 1960s taken over the Democratic party. These radicals are hell bent on destroying white america and feel that the United States was a flawed creation and that White america should be destroyed and replaced with a flood of third world races. These sorts of people see the United States as a flawed creation and hate the existance of this country. They have decided that they want to destroy the United States, and especially destroy white america. They have decided that they hate white americans and have been carrying out what can only be described as genocidal policies to destroy white america by causing whites to become a small shrinking, minority in the US through immigration invasions.

No one can honestly say that the United States is a country of immigrants from everywhere and anywhere. The white majority founded thjis country and was the majority throughout its entire history and this is inseparable from the countries identity, character and nature. It was recognized that the country was best run by a white majority , that whites had the skills, intelligence and capabilities to make the country into a success. They were right, as a white majority country, the US has been the most successful country in the world primarily due to the intelligence and abilities of its white majority. IQ testing has shown that whites have an average IQ that is 20% higher than that of Africans, Mexicans and other groups. The average white IQ is 105 compared to the average Mexican and African IQs which are at 85. The white majority is the main cause of the historical success of the country. The fact is traditional minorities such as Blacks have a much higher standard of living and quality of life living in a white majority US, than if they had been living in virtually any other black majority country. Our vision is a white majority country that takes on an economic stewardship role to economically and technologically develop the country, improving living conditions for all including the ethnic minorities in the country who should equally benefit from the success and intellectual capabilities of the white majority.

Our vision of Americas future should be in keeping with the traditional demographic structure of the country and maintaining the strong white majority in the country. This included prohibiting immigration of Mexicans and other groups into the US which causes a disruption of the traditional character and demographic structure of the country.  It includes full rights and equal opportunity for the traditional minority groups in the country, and whites as the majority taking an altruistic economic stewardship role to improve the living conditions of the minorities in the country.

Blacks, native americans and other traditional minorities have fully equal rigths in a white majority country and much better quality of life than would be had in  a black majority or a mexican majority country. We have gone to lengths to make sure that all of these minorities enjoy equal rights. Unfortunately, for many people, thats not enough. The war to destroy white america goes too far and should be stopped.

Unless we stop this war on white america and this violent immigration invasion to destroy white america, the US as it has been for 300 years and that we all know will no longer exist in 30 years.

Basnig
Basnig

I am Asian and I voted democrat but NOT because of immigration issues (though I support President Obama's immigration stand) but because of what, in my opinion, the Republicans represent - Corporate Greed. I am a Christian and I go to a very conservative church.  I do not support abortion (I support contraception) and I do not support gay marriage (I support civil union) -- 2 key issues Republican sympathizers use as no-brainer decision points in choosing Republican over ANY Democratic opponent, period. I voted YES to the amendment on eminent domain - which democrats recommend we vote NO on. My point is -- please STOP STEREOTYPING. President Obama won a re-election to a second term because of the confluence of several issues and factors -- and it cannot be boiled down to Asians and Hispanics voting Dem because of Immigration - though they probably helped. On the other side of the coin, in my opinion, something can be said of voting Republican based on race and religion and military sympathies. Though of course, I wouldn't want to be accused of the same "crime". 

FredericMarc
FredericMarc

I am not completely sure that the Republican party understand what happened Tuesday. And the magnitude of their responsibility in this fiasco.Wednesday, 320 million American woke up in another Social Democracy. It was not a battle that was lost, but the war.There is nothing wrong with Social Democracy, as long as it is implemented in countries educated, culturally homogenous and small enough to allow a tight control on social programs. It might even have been workable in the US, if implemented at the state level.To understand why I think I have a lead on you to appreciate the magnitude of what happened after these last elections, You need to know that I have been through this revolution once in my life.Until I was 35, I lived in France. France was, until 1981 a center right country. A country of hard working people, where social program fraud was minimal, and where the entitlement mentality was foreign to a law abiding, optimistic population. With the first socialist president, who ruled for 14 years, France took the irremediable path to social democracy. Nobody at this time, me included, understood how irremediable this move was, even where the battle against capitalism was held, and when it was won.Since Lenin, socialist have an overwhelming advantage on bourgeois societies. Because when you have been brought in the set of values that define a democratic society, it is hard to believe that a country can so rapidly be changed in its quintessential paradigm. We want to believe that virtue is resilient, and that political alternance can restore or undo what the previous administration did wrong. Moreover, in the USA, we strongly believe in the constitution and the balance of power, as an additional guarantee against any attempt to overthrow the fundamental rules.Socialists know that there is no country that cannot be taken by storm, when the situation is ripe, and the right strategy is implemented.I did believe that there was nothing irremediable when president Obama was elected for a first term. I don’t believe that anymore, because more than his reelection, the real outcome of Tuesday night, is that America has been forever installed into an entrenched class war.The federal government, particularly through the health care mandate, as it is in Europe, will use more and more the business owners as tax and social charges collectors. This already is the case, but what will change is that, because the social programs will require always more money to be run, we will become constantly suspected of evading our obligations, and pointed out as the responsible for their financial demise. The social programs, being exclusively dispensed through the government, will be always running huge deficit, because they will be inevitably looted by their beneficiaries.Why is it that social democracies are gangrened by mass corruption? It is because one of the most important dynamic in Social Democracy is that, the very idea that the government “protects” the middle class implies and conveys that until the social democrat governmental protection was “at last” in place, the businesses owners, “the rich” had been stealing the money from them. This explain the “revenge” vote Obama was talking about.We saw that in France with the 35 worked hours per week implementation.In one night, and I know that you will not believe me, but I repeat, in one night, I have seen a radical transformation into my 65 employees rapport to work. People who would not leave their desk until dusk, or show up Saturday morning, to finish a task, knowing they were not paid for it, became greedy of their time. They would stop working, gather their coat ½ an hour early, just to make sure they would not give us one extra minute of their time.

JimHale
JimHale

Plan:  Immediate legality through registration, documenting  length of stay here. Application for legitimate SSN's for those now using a bogus one. Processing for citizenship over the next fifteen years: first-here, first served. Citizenship only for those who (1) learn English, (2) have no criminal record (other than offenses springing from illegal status itself), (3)  have a job, go to school or be legitimately dependent on someone with a job (like legal immigrants), (4) wait five years before being sworn as citizens (to provide equivalence for the delay legal immigrants must experience) and (5) payment of a substantial fine - pegged at an amount that pays for all or nearly all of the government's actual expense in processing all this paperwork. 

This is not amnesty.  This is fairness.  This could be bi-partisan.

This makes everyone legal - getting workers out of the black market economy and into tax-paying status. This removes the necessity of these workers having to take low wages because of their illegal status.  That removes much of their negative impact on over-all wage rates.

This takes care of legality as an issue.  Those who would oppose it are left to admit that they just do not want "these people" here.

Harvard83
Harvard83

It is a pity that the GOP cannot see that the majority of the United States was turned off by their mean spirited and rude behavior toward others that they perceive to be different.  That is what turned off the country.  I want congratulate my Asian brothers and sisters for supporting Obama because they see him working to help everyone, and they can see his heart.  That is the key to our future as a society. Everyone would be better off if they stopped passing judgement based on appearance, and just took the time to know who a person is. White immigrants can "pass" as soon as they lose their accent.  People of color are judged "at a glance" no matter how many generations have been born here, and we deserve acceptance. We came and we stay because we love this country and want to make it even better.  If we  believe God is in control, then this is the leader He wants for our collective good.  President Obama is someone we can all be proud of and I know he will continue to lead us with great distinction, honor and wisdom.  Viva Obama and god bless the United States!

Baab
Baab

WOW!  What a re-branding problem for the Republican National Committee;

GOP = "Gringos-Only Party"

phankane
phankane

Can you please use your Filipino name? To make your father proud.

phankane
phankane

Thank you for people like you! the US is going to be like the Philippines and Mexico.

Conservative_202
Conservative_202

Because Gov. Romney referred to you as an "illegal" you're offended, and all your family and friends voted for Obama on that basis?I will tell you who would be most upset and offended by what you've done, and by what you ask others to condone. My sister-in-law for one of MANY. She has been waiting in the Philippines to come to the US LAWFULLY since 1996, and she has a right to be far more offended than any "undocumented" (illegal) immigrant, and not by Governor Romney's (perhaps ill-considered) choice of (accurate) words to describe you. She would be offended far more by knowing that you chose to "jump the line" and come here UNLAWFULLY. That's who is entitled, if anyone is, to be "offended". It makes me furious that my family is at the mercy of a broken immigration system, just as you and countless others are. They, however, chose to observe and honor the law, unfair as it may be. You and your family chose to break the law. While I have sympathy for your situation, I do not find the term "illegal"offensive in any way. It merely states a fact about your legal status. We need immigration reform, it it true. However, the man your family and the families of countless other "dreamers" voted for will leave the US a much less desirable place to come to, after our currency is debased to the point of collapse, taking with it the country and the social services that provide not only benefits, but actual jobs to the LEGAL Filipino, other Asian and Latino people who do invaluable work in our public health system, our schools, our manufacturing sector, and many other areas. Did your families think of THAT when they voted for the empty suit that occupies the White House? I think not. You listened to the sleazy and crazed rantings of the left-leaning media who convinced you that Gov. Romney, a fundamentally good and decent man, is some sort of "Scrooge McDuck", a rich and evil corporate  raider who hates women, gays, immigrants, seniors and sick people. Yes, the system is broken. Yes, it needs to be fixed. But the man you voted for has given you a false hope, both in his ability to accomplish bipartisan reform, and in his ability to better the society you want to be part of. I'm sorry if what I say offends you, but it is truth and I stand by it, on behalf of the hundreds of thousands who wait patiently to come to this country LEGALLY; some, like members of MY family, for decades. Shame on you. Napahiya ka, ano?

jssk
jssk

Immigration is the most important issue for this country, America became the best country in the world because of the constant influx of immigrants. Before we start trying to solve the illegal immigration problem, we need to solve the legal immigration problem. The paths to legally immigrating to this country is just too hard and hostile. And that's for someone with advanced education and skills like me. If you have to wait 8, 10, even 20 years to get a green card, no wonder some people will just risk breaking the rules and stay here without the documents, because documents are too hard to get!

Onesimus
Onesimus

"A new American majority — a multiethnic majority — has not only arrived but is in fact reordering the political landscape."

What absolute garbage these conclusions are.  Conservatives stayed home in droves- that's the story of this election- period.  Vargas sounds like a rebel soldier from April of 1861 screeching "We gonna WHIP them Yankee boiysss, yessir!"  Besides, the suggestion that this multi-ethnic majority are all liberal-leftists is so racist on it's face I can't believe no one is calling him on it.  Yeah, your're right.  A Mexican-American could NEVER hold conservative values.  Racist.

mindfulwhim
mindfulwhim

What would Jesus do? Apparently he would kick your a** out of the country, according to the social conservatives posting on this site. Wait, didn't Jesus break the law too? Never mind.

The simple fact is that the owning classes have us (we the poor and working classes) divided and conquered. We are otherwise occupied fighting for the table scraps of the wealthy, so we are distracted from aiming our frustrations on the people who keep us poor; the owning classes. That's right. The rich don't need to worry about us rising up and demanding our share while we squabble amongst ourselves for their crumby leftovers.

So, these bigots who blame other victims of capitalistic greed, are actually playing into the hands of those wealthy one-percenters who control all the money and continue to keep us poor.

In solidarity,

gripp13
gripp13

People with your status are not allowed to vote period. You have no rights in our country period. Your problem is not our problem period. All you understand is that you think democratic = you might get to stay period. Your a cancer on our society just like the inner city populations that has their had out !

JonathanSchell
JonathanSchell

So, you admit to being part of the problem and not even recognizing what the problem is.  You are not just undocumented, you are here illegally, because you are violating the law by being here without documentation or permission to be here.  It's that simple.  Everyone who supports you is advocating violating the law.  We have immigration rules for a reason.  Work to change them if you don't like them.

DarianL.Smith
DarianL.Smith

Upraising the standard of the oneness of humanity is a great and wonderufl thing;  not something to be feared. This is the

reassuring message that needs to be taught.

NickThompson
NickThompson

Like so many that did not understand how fragile liberty is, they voted to end the very things they were fighting to obtain.