Friday, May 23, 2008

Obama within 59 delegates of nomination, but ...

Two members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus helped push Sen. Barack Obama closer to the Democratic nomination for president with their superdelegate endorsements today.

From California, U.S. Rep. Jim Costa and Rep. Dennis Cardoza , the latter who previously supported Sen. Hillary Clinton, announced their decisions that put Obama within 59 delegates of the number needed to secure the nomination.

Clinton handily won the California primary with large Hispanic support. The number of 59 delegates is contingent on Clinton being unsuccessful before the Democratic Rules Committee or on the convention floor in seating the Michigan and Florida Dem delegations as selected by voters.

The endorsements, however, do not mean Obama is doing better with Hispanic voters. The Hispanic blogosphere today has mostly been negative about Obama's speech in Florida on U.S. relations with Latin America if he is elected.

For the record, I endorsed Sen. Obama in the Hispanic press before the Texas primary. I did not endorse on the GOP side. But I would have chosen Sen. McCain if his race was still in question. The candidate who will remove federal authorization of the 287(g) deportation program that is savaging the innocent in Nashville and stop ICE raids like the ones we have seen in Postville will get my endorsement and continuous blogging support.

Also, that candidate must be honest and not say different things to different constituences. Reform of the nation's immigration policy must include securing the border and establishing a guest worker program and steps toward legalization for undocumented workers and their families already here. One change must not proceed without the other.

Obama has said he will push comprehensive immigration reform in his first year in office. That is not enough. He must also stop the ICE raids and 287(g). His buddy, Gov. Deval Patrick of Masschusetts, did not help Obama in the believability department among Hispanics when he decided this week not to honor his pledge to back legislation that would have granted in-state tuition and fee rates to the undocumented. The Boston Globe reported about the decision through administration sources and noted that Gov. Patrick had earlier endorsed the legislation as "the right thing to do."

The federal version, called "The Dream Act", has gone nowhere in Congress. It would help the children of the undocumented who have been educated in our schools and are now ready to be the professionals who will fill the economic void left by retiring Baby Boomers. But they can't afford to go on to be doctors and engineers and scientists because of the unaffordability of college at non-in-state rates. This nation's historical bigotry is getting in the way of doing the right and smart thing for the future.

McCain, too, has said he will push comprehensive reform. And he has in the past taken an incredible amount of heat from fellow conservatives. He should be respected for that. However, while he is now saying comp reform to one crowd, he is saying "secure the border first" to another group. That's not good enough, particularly with undocumented workers and their families are being savaged in Maricopa County in McCain's home state of Arizona.

I have sat across from Secretary of State Rice and then-AG Gonzales in one-on-one interviews and asked about border security. Both were adamant that the border was secure against terrorists through the use of technology. And in fact, a guest worker program in which all people registered their names and IDs would make the the United States safer.

So there you have it: two candidates from two parties who have yet to go far enough to covince Hispanic voters of their credibility and willingness to do the right thing.

1 comment:

OurHispanicVoices said...

I don't believe the bloggoshpere is a good a thermometer of the Hispanic / Latino community as it is with others. I've blogged on polling in CO, CA, NM, and been working on TX. Obama is winning the head to head match-up against McCain. From what I can tell Democratic support is strong among the community. From what I am hearing from Hispanics on the ground in TX is that while they voted for Clinton in the Primary, they'll support a Obama over McCain in Nov. They don't like the fact the Republicans made the demographic a political football to try and win congressional districts in 2006.