Tag Archives: latinos

3rd Centavo: Why Latinos Don’t Vote in the Eyes of a New Generation

(Editor’s Note:  I met Ivan a couple of years ago while visiting UH-Downtown and he was in the middle of a race for student body president. A hard worker and always willing to learn, he has given some thought to one of the biggest questions in politics and presents those thoughts here. He currently works in the public service sector and is a local community activist.)

by Ivan Sanchez

ivanIn Houston, Hispanics make up about 44% of the population, but we comprise only about 8% of the business and political leadership combined. Most people would assume that voter participation would increase over time, however that has not been the case with Hispanics over time. Less than a decade ago, we had 5 Hispanic City elected officials, Today we only have two. So why it is that Houston is the most diverse city in the world except when it comes to voting?

Like most 1st generation Hispanics, my family and I immigrated to the United States for a better life. I am a recent Political Science graduate that humbly wants to share what I have learned as a 26 year old political activist. This is an attempt to inform and educate Hispanics and other members of our society about the obstructions Hispanics have in the path to political participation. Though this article is not concentrated on a solution, like when breaking a habit, we must 1st acknowledge the problem and analyze the cause.

All Numbers but no walk:

Today, Hispanics are almost half of Houston’s population. It’s calculated that by 2018, Hispanics in Houston will be 60% or more of the population. However, my friend and colleague Mario Salinas, explains that “Numbers mean nothing without the capacity to translate those numbers into meaningful action”. Yes, we are so many, yet, we are so politically immobilized. For a City the nation portrays itself in 15 years, the future is at stake.

More than science:

Political Science predicts voting probability by calculating a person or group’s Social Economic Status, also known as SES. Though Hispanic SES is a major factor on why we don’t vote, it can additionally be generational differences, how we spend our free time, fear, and the different countries that we come from. So let’s break down SES.

SES, Social Economic Status:

SES is based on 3 key factors: age, income, and education. The more the age, income and education, the higher the probability that a person votes. It also works the other way around, as the younger, the less income and education, the less one is likely to vote. Unfortunately for us, Hispanics are among the lowest ranking ethnicities on the SES scale.

SES, Age:

The Hispanic ethnicity in general is the youngest group in the United states. Our age median numbers are incredibly young at a national median compared to other Ethnicities. According to the 2010 census, the median age of Hispanics is 27 years old – An age where immediate compensation is an instinct, and the future seems far away. An age where the trendy thing to do is work for immediate gratification instead of the long term educational future. With that statistic, we must make education easier to access, not harder – making it interesting would serve as icing on the cake.

SES, Education:

According to the 2010 Census, only 16% of Hispanics that graduate high school decide to attend college. Out of these few that attend college, only 51% of Latinos that start college complete their bachelor’s degree. Hence, in Houston, Hispanics have an educated work force of roughly 8%. With no education, this leads our community to have a big blue collar work force, and the lower the available skills, consequently, the lower the income.

SES, Income:

In the US, approximately 10 million out of 58 million Hispanics do not have full “legal” permission to contribute to the community we vouched and risked our live to come to. That’s approximately 20% of our Hispanic brothers and sisters that are undocumented Americans, living in the shadows and are exploited with extremely low wages, or worse, wage theft. Though education is the major barrier to income, an additional obstruction to income exists by language barriers. Documented Americans know how hard it can be to find a Job at times, but the reality of obtaining a good paying job while not knowing  prefect English and/or the lack of a degree is slim to none in this century.

Education cycle:

As Hispanics tend to have lower incomes due to our limited education, we compensate the loss of low income by having two jobs and by working long shifts on the weekends. Naturally, Hispanic families are very family oriented, and as good of intentions we mean to each other, families further compensate the loss of income by utilizing the younger generations in order to make ends meet. As a new century-academic graduate, I witnessed hundreds of Hispanic friends that didn’t graduate high school and college because they decided to support their parents, siblings and households. With millions of Hispanic families ending their opportunity to an educational career, the consequence to our political participation is catastrophic.

Fear:

The majority of Hispanic [immigrants] come from different countries with corrupt and ruthless governmental systems. This fear is so credible and embedded in our psyche that it affects our SES to the core. Even when we finally end up in the high portion of the SES scale (older, high income and educated), we tend to break off the “proven” SES guidelines as they misunderstand this new government and try to avoid it at all cost. This drives our few “powerful” and educated Hispanics in the workforce to not pay attention to the new democracy they are living in.

Self-Hispanic Wound:

In 2014, Hispanics:  Mexicans, Colombians, Cubans, Ecuadoreans, Argentineans, Bolivians, Salvadorians, Peruvians, and every other Latino country and descendancy – make up the 44% of Houston’s population. However, the countries we come from divide our united voice as each Latino of a corresponding country separates themselves into multiple segregated groups, therefore forming smaller separate percentages. Our cultures, soccer fanaticism, pride and other variables are separating and diminishing our united voice in the United States. Hispanics need to realize that no matter where we come from, here in the US, we all pledge to one flag. There is nothing wrong with preserving the culture, but we need to understand that we as individuals are nothing without each other. And as Houston is a melting pot of all ethnicities, I only hope all Hispanics melt together as well. My family already did.

Demoralization:

When rarely involved, Hispanics usually vote for candidates that carry Hispanic sounding names. Texas now has their 1st “Hispanic” US Senator. That Senator, like most Hispanics, also came to the US for a better life. Ironically, that Senator wants to deport Hispanics and does not even support a fair Immigration Reform that has a path to Citizenship. As Hispanics are generally politically inactive, they see and hear these high powered elected officials do this to their families and neighbors, only furthering the mistrust of government and demoralizing our potential.

I often hear, “Win the Latino vote, win the political landscape. All we have to do is get Latinos to vote!”

Well Geez! If it were that easy, you would think it would be done by now, no? However, before the system tries to win our vote, they must win our hearts and minds. Information translates to empowerment, and when the system empowers us, they might just earn our vote. However, the ball is in our court as we cannot wait for the system to help us.

The answer to political participation is inside the mind of all who cannot afford education. We need to educate and organize ourselves to ensure the blossoming economic future of Houston and this Country by uniting within ourselves and our allies. We need to get out of our comfort zone, and become constant active participants on the field. Though this is an informative article and not a solution concentrated piece, you can start by empowering others and sharing this article. Let’s create a laser sharp focus on engaging and educating the youth, their schools and our churches. Education is the only true equalizer of this century, and we need to massively advertise and educate that elections matter – their family’s lives may depend on it one day.

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Lone Star College System Agrees to Single Member Districts

I just about moved back to the ‘burbs when I found out that the voting rights lawyer for the Democrats (Chad Dunn) led the legal effort to change the way elections are held in the Lone Star College System.

The way they have been held in the past definitely bothered me during my decade in the ‘burbs since Latinos could never get elected, and only a couple of African Americans ever won. Even when an anti-immigrant, right-wing Hispanic (Martin Basaldua) was appointed, his own political party didn’t help him get re-elected (he lost).

The agreement includes a new voting map based on the 2010 Census that will take effect next year. The map divides the college system into districts each represented by a single elected board member.

In addition, board elections will be moved from May during odd years to November during even years to maximize voter participation, court documents state.

As suburban as the college system is, it is fast becoming quite diverse. The diversity had previously been centered at its North Harris campus; however, the face of all of the campuses is much different, now.

About 30 percent are Hispanic, 16 percent black and 46 percent Anglo, the lawsuit said.

I’m looking forward to seeing the new map to see how these districts are mapped out.

Abbott’s Hispandering vs His Real Message

So, we’ve heard that Greg Abbott likes to get an “awww!” from Latinos when he mentions he married a Latina. Well, this weekend, he showed up and spoke at a local Latino business club thing, along with a whole bunch of other Republicans trying to play nice with brown biz folk.

My response? Meh! Policies matter, people!

Anyway, soon after Wendy Davis announced, along with all of the mysogynistic, anti-woman stuff that has been tossed at her, Abbott stated that she would bring “California values” to Texas. He’s probably trying to speak to the racist homophobes who get off on that kind of stuff, but I think it sends a real message to Latinos given CA Governor Jerry Brown’s recent signing of Latino and immigrant friendly laws.

Brown just signed a law which helps stop local law enforcement from doing immigration enforcement and the undue racial profiling that comes with it. Wendy Davis voted against SB9 in 2011, which Abbott supported, and would have done the opposite of CA’s Trust Act. I don’t know about you, but this is a California value I like.

Another bit about Greg Abbott’s disdain for “California values,” it turns out Brown also signed a bill allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain driver’s licenses. Doing so will provide access to vehicle insurance–a boon to public safety, the economy, and business interests. Gregg Abbott’s campaign attacked Wendy Davis for supporting a similar measure during her recent visit to TribFest.

Abbott supported cutting billions from public education and universities. Abbott has fought against access to health care (Obamacare), which Latinos support in huge numbers. Latinos even supported expanding Medicaid, but Abbott did not.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking “California values” means anything pro-Latino and/or Pro-Immigrant. Message received.

Latinos To Appeal Ruling on County Map

The Chron reports that Latino activists who a local federal judge ruled against over Harris County’s redistricting have decided to move forward with an appeal.

Activists who believe a now-adopted Harris County redistricting plan illegally dilutes Latino votes in the only Latino-opportunity commissioner precinct are set to appeal a ruling made at the beginning of the month.

In her long-anticipated decision, issued Aug. 1, U.S. District Judge Vanessa Gilmore said the plaintiffs, led by Houston City Councilmen James Rodriguez and Ed Gonzalez, were unable to demonstrate that a map adopted two years ago by the Harris County Commissioners Court was unconstitutional or that race was the predominant factor in the design of the plan.

The notice of appeal was filed Thursday in the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals by plaintiffs’ attorney Chad Dunn, general counsel for the Texas Democratic Party.

The initial lawsuit, which went to trial in November, was filed in 2011 as the Commissioners Court prepared to adopt a map with precinct boundaries based on the 2010 census. After the ruling, the court adopted those boundaries at a meeting on Aug. 13.

I’m looking forward to reading that appeal.

The Notion That The GOP Needs to Embrace People

An article in the Lubbock Avalanche Journal (by Enrique Rangel) caught my eye this weekend. It talked about the need for the Republican party to embrace minorities, and featured in the article was a complaining (again) Aaron Pena.

The article takes us back to Texas Monthly’s cover photo featuring Wendy Davis and the Castro brothers, which earned the Castros the insult of “wetback” from a bigot, to which Mayor Castro responded. Apparently, so did Aaron Pena.

So, Peña spoke up as loudly as he could.

“As conservatives grounded in principles of decency and respect for all people, it is our responsibility to openly denounce these sorts of demeaning statements,” he wrote in a letter to the editor published in the San Antonio Express-News.

“Our state is changing in many ways, demographically and otherwise,” Peña added. “If we are to move forward cohesively and productively as the great state we are, we must put these ugly vestiges of our past behind us.”

Given Republican attacks on women and the state budget, I’m haven’t seen the “decency and respect,” but as the immigration debate moves forward, it seems the vitriol is getting worse, thanks to Republican Steve King of Iowa and his “canteloupe” comments about DREAMers. Needless to say, it is even upsetting Republicans like Pena.

Over the years, King has also compared immigrants to dogs and proposed an electrified fence along the border with Mexico.

Back in Texas, Dallas tea party leader Ken Emanuelson said recently Republicans don’t want blacks to vote because they overwhelmingly support Democrats.

“Our party doesn’t need those people and we should denounce them as strongly as we can when they make or post those ugly comments,” Peña said.

Even another Republican Latino had something to say.

“The problem is that those at the top, the leaders, don’t know how to deal with these people (the bigots),” said former Rep. Raul Torres of Corpus Christi.

“They have failed us miserably, hoping the problem will go away.” Torres said of GOP leaders who say little or nothing when a racist remark triggers a public uproar.

Hell, although not racist in nature, but more “chicken-shittedness,” I had my issues with the Democrats who listened to a consultant who told them back in 2005 that the immigration issue would just go away and not to engage Republicans on it. That said, not much has changed, other than some cosmetic engagement and, now, a complete giveaway of the store (border militarization) during the negotiation over immigration reform to appease the Republicans–which has failed.

Bottom line, it will take a lot more than simply “being nice” to turn Latinos “red,” in vote and not in anger. Republican stances on education (K-12 and College), Obamacare, and jobs/economy are not very well liked by Latinos according to the latest Latino Decisions polling.

Much like it is said that Latinos are not monolithic (although Obama’s 71% in 2012 says much), they are also not a one-issue group of people, unless Republicans go negative on immigration (which then turns into anti-Latino rhetoric).

I had a relatively short conversation with a Republican Latina who attended the Gus Garcia Day celebration this weekend who tells me she is going to file to take on John Cornyn for U.S. Senate because of his stances on immigration. Other than telling her she faces a lonely road in the GOTea primary, since Latinos stay away from that primary a lot more often than from the Dem primary, it was difficult not to smirk. “Bless her heart,” I thought, but I reminded her of the fact that Latinos are not a one-issue people, and Republican primary voters are certainly not what you would call pro-Latino or pro-immigrant, given the kind  of stuff they come up with at their conventions.

Nonetheless, a run by her may be what it takes to convince Republicans to let go of the new-Jim Crow attitude they are portraying with their immigration stances, voter ID, etc. But she would still be a Latina Republican left to defend and convince Latinos on draconian budget cuts and everything else the GOP is trying to dismantle.

In other words, the name-calling is just one part of the reason Republicans aren’t earning the Latino vote.

 

 

Pro-Migrant Poll on Latino Support for GOP Unrealistic

When it comes to polling anyone, it’s all in the question. Republican pollsters ask questions one way, Democratic pollsters ask another way, usually. Well, Latino Decisions’ recent poll on Latino support for Rubio, Bush, and Paul Ryan is quite disingenuous. 

While the 2016 presidential election is a full three years away many of the high profile Republican contenders are enmeshed in the immigration reform debate, and if Republicans demonstrate strong leadership on passing comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship possible candidates such as Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan could get strong support from Latino voters.  However if Rubio, Bush or Ryan distance themselves from the immigration bill and House Republicans defeat the measure none of the GOP candidates stands to improve on the historic Romney 2012 defeat among Latinos. [Full poll results here]

Latino Decisions and others have done other polling in the recent past about how Latinos feel about various issues, and when it comes right down to it, Latinos fall in line with Democratic Party-promoted policies on education, health care, and jobs/economy. So, why weren’t these polled voters reminded of the Rubio, Bush, and especially Ryan positions on those policies. Ryan (and Romney) was defeated in 2012 because of those positions.

It is obvious to me that the poll was created to put a scare into Republicans, but assuming that Latinos are solely single issue voters taints the poll. We are not.

On top of that, the current Latino political conversation has included the addition of the “border surge” to the bill which Rubio very loudly insisted be included or he would not play the game anymore. I won’t even go into Bush’s “fertile” remark. And, Ryan, well, he still wants to cut off our viejitos and viejitas from Social Security.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of Latino Decisions. Recently, they even wrote up a defense of the Voting Rights Act backed up by science and numbers. So, I know they are capable of good work. But  this last poll goes against what we should be doing–educating and empowering Latino voters with facts. And especially about candidates.

Besides, we are seeing everyday that the GOP is not going to budge on immigration reform, and moreover, that the GOP has all but given up on the Latino vote. At least, that’s how it looks today.

SB1: Who’s Fighting For Latin@ Interests?

If one hasn’t noticed themake-up of the Senate Bill 1 (the budget) conference committee, one should take a look-see. One will find that on the Texas House side, there are no Latinos. State Rep. Sylvester Turner, I’m sure, serves folks well, but Latinos are not even represented on the committee. On the Senate side, at the very least there is one Latino (Hinojosa) and one whose district has a good chunk of Latino population (Whitmire). Why is the Texas House different?

Before anyone responds with, “what about this group?” or “that group?” let’s get real. Mexican Americans and Latinos are the fasting growing demographic; if anything, it was more than evident in the last Census. Republicans proved it by redrawing Congressional and other district boundaries with the intent of decreasing the power of the Latino vote in one way or another.

Obviously, as far as Republicans are concerned, Latinos are on their radar, but the results of their actions have tended to be negative, rather than supportive.

Here are some facts:

  • Hispanics accounted for 65% of Texas’ population growth.
  • Non-Hispanic Whites account for 45% of the population.
  • As Education is a major portion of the budget, half of Texas’ K-12 students are Hispanic.

I can go on with the demographics, obviously. And I can also give an entire listing of how billions cut from K-12 and higher education, or cuts to health care, in 2011 have affected Latinos. And if it affected Latinos, one knows it affected everyone else, too.

I guess all I’m asking for is a little fairness and representation on a conference committee that is supposed to decide on a budget that affects a huge chunk of Texans. A huge chunk that has obviously impacted politics and policy in Texas.

If you want me to suggest names, I can give you some, too, but chances are they will be members of the Mexican American Legislative Caucus.

3rd Centavo~ Acuña: The Young Grow Old

by Rodolfo F. Acuña

Rank and file Democrats are desperate for a turnaround of their political fortunes, and an end of the Robber Baron era — so much so that they see the recent elections as their deliverance. For them, the last presidential election was a sign that the country is turning to the left, and that Democrats will be able to keep the presidency for eternity. They believe that obstructionism of Republicans will be drowned by the growing numbers of youth, minority, homosexual and Latino voters. Their hope is that the changes will put them on the road to a more communitarian and humane society.

Pundit after pundit predicts that the entrance of large numbers gay and Latino voters will end the culture wars that divide the country. There is only one problem — progressives forget that the “Young Grow Old.”

It is easy to get caught up in the euphoria of the moment. I remember demonstrations in the 1960s, and thinking that we had entered a new era. I did not fully appreciate the seductive power of capital in negating any communitarian or humane transformation. I also underestimated the ability of the ruling class to twist the words of sociologists, and blame the victim with phrases such as the “culture of poverty.”

Nor did I take into account the self-interest of many of the demonstrators who opposed the war; they remained interested for only as long as they were personally threatened. Poverty and injustice was only visible for as long as the young remained young. They became invisible once more as the baby boomers grew old, and took on mortgages. They then distanced themselves from poverty, which again became a non-priority.

Before we enter the World of Oz once more, we should remember that age will not make us wiser; it will not make us more humane. Our system of governing has been taken captive by billionaires who have always been old and count on the young growing old. They count on the individual and the community being disconnected. They have purposely disconnected the family unit from the community, and destroyed any sense of shared history. In this environment poverty and injustice become invisible.

We are blinded by temporary victories and the glitter of that huge flag pin dangling from our lapels.

Tax breaks for the rich are softened by senior citizens discounts. Daily we play the game of bargains. Every day my family receives more advertisements from Macy’s than it does from St. Jude’s.

The tactics differ; St. Jude tries to jar us with photos of pelones, bald children who have gone through chemotherapy. Macy’s plays more to our self-interest, and like society seduces us. It sends us coupons. Items that cost $99.99 are marked down to $79.99, and then as a preferred customer you get an additional 20% off, and if you have a Macy’s Bank of America card, you get an additional 20%. By the time you get through with the sale you have saved over 50%. That is a deal!

The cost of being taken (exploited) becomes invisible. Penney’s recently started a marketing strategy where it posted the true price. No coupons. However, it was such a disaster that the new CEO came under attack and was fired. The truth be told, we have reached the point where young and old want to be taken.

As Latinos and gays get older and discrimination is hidden by the coupon game they will forget that at one time Latinos did not have green cards, and gays could not marry. None of us are immune to seduction. We just turn the other way. Latinos and blacks today tolerate reactionary voices among them, although it is obvious that these voices conflict with their interests.

As in the movie “Soylent Green,” (1973) we’ll take the green wafer which is advertised to contain “high-energy plankton.” Foods that we remember will fade from memory as we grow old.

Coming off my high horse, it does not have to be like this. Our minds can stay young, and we should remember that at one time most people could afford a home. I bought my first home at 21 – no down payment, total cost $8500. I could qualify for it on my janitor’s salary. Today that same house costs $500,000; $100,000 down. And I am sure I could not qualify for it on a teacher’s salary. You do not get coupons to buy a home unless they plan to take it away.

The Left is complicit in the aging of our memory. Their journals and their activities include little material to politically educate and integrate Latinos. The Nation rarely includes articles on Latinos west of Chicago. Tellingly, most turned the other way as Mexican American history, books and culture were banned in Arizona.

If Democrats want to keep Mexican Americans and youth young, they are going to have to invest in their political education. They must integrate Mexican American and Latino history into the fabric of the progressive history of the United States. The Left is going to have to respect Mexican Americans and support their causes and know who they are.

Recently there was an exchange between so-called socialists; a Mexican American member (a true activist) criticized the body for its white chauvinism. He criticized the members’ lack of knowledge of Latino history. A pedant answered the criticism with a long winded response naming many African-American members of the Communist Party.

What was revealing was that the respondent named only Latin Americans living south of the United States as communist. It was as if Mexican Americans or Latinos in this country did not exist.

If progressives really want a communitarian society they will support Mexican American and other Latino issues. They will integrate these causes into the progressive agenda, work to achieve them instead of just handing out coupons. A sign of respect for the masses is remembering their names even when they are not considered part of the vanguard.

I must admit it is nice to get a senior citizens discount even though there are others who cannot afford to watch the movie. You know, the people cannot afford Obamacare because of the cost of medical insurance. In order to have a humane and communitarian society, we have to go beyond, “Don’t touch my Medicare!” and stop hoarding it as if it were only for the old.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.

Latino Issues Pendulum Swings Toward Immigration

As I’ve stated previously, Latinos have a whole bunch of issues we keep our eye on, but when the policy talk and negative rhetoric hops up on immigration, all attention seems to go in that direction. A new poll from Latino Decisions states as much.

Overall, 58% of Latino voters now rate immigration reform as the most important issue they want Congress and the President to address, up from 35% who rated immigration reform as the top concern in our November 2012 election eve poll.  The economy and jobs was rated second at 38% followed by health care (19%) and education (15%).

74% of Latinos find it very important that immigration reform be passed in 2013. Latinos also found that DC must work on both the economy and immigration reform  at the same time, rather than the economy taking precedence over CIR.

Disturbing was one question asking Latinos if they would vote for a Republican who takes a leadership role on the issue, and 44% responded in the affirmative. The pollsters felt that perhaps because some have taken that role in trying to come up with a solution, that Latinos are giving the GOP a second look.

That said, things clear up when Latinos were asked if they would vote for a Republican who would block a path to citizenship and 42% stated they would not, including 33% of Latinos Republicans. 41% of Latinos stated they would defect to the other side if Democrats blocked reform.

But when it comes right down to it, they can ask all the questions they want about scenarios. How do they really feel about things?

When asked which party has been most responsible for immigration reform not passing over the last few years, 64% say the Republicans are to blame, compared to 10% who blame the Democrats.  And how do Latinos currently evaluate each party’s outreach to the Latino community? As of March 2013, things look fairly similar to November 2012.  While 72% say the Democrats have done a good job reaching out to Latinos, only 21% think the Republicans have done a good job.  In contrast, 45% think the Republicans “don’t care too much” about Latinos, and 22% think the Republicans are being hostile towards Latinos.  For the Democrats, 17% think the party doesn’t care, and 4% think Dems are hostile.

This was a poll of 800 registered Latino voters from across the U.S., by the way. The poll can be easily slammed by the right, given that it was put out there by pro-immigration reform groups like SEIU. But I will give it some “lefty” criticism, too. It doesn’t seem like President Obama’s deportation programs were mentioned, which could affect the numbers. Another criticism is that the poll seems to have missed the gun control debate completely, which sometimes seems to take precedence over CIR.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that immigration reform is at the top of the list of Latino voters again, and a path to citizenship is at the forefront of what Latinos want in the reform package. Thus far, Republicans “leading” on the issue, like Marco Rubio, are against citizenship. Add to that 2016 prospect JEB Bush and Republicans really are back where they have always been–wanting to exploit immigrants for their corporate funders’ benefit.

And Latinos, apparently, are watching and ready to blame who is stopping immigration reform from happening.

3rd Centavo ~ Acuña: The Case of Marco Rubio

by Dr. Rodolfo Acuña

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) strongly criticized the first draft of President Obama’s immigration reform plan saying “It’s a mistake for the White House to draft immigration legislation without seeking input from Republican members of Congress… ,” predicting that “if actually proposed, the President’s bill would be dead on arrival in Congress.” The Rubio statement calls the bill “half-baked and seriously flawed.” It alleges that Obama’s bill is not tough enough on border security and that it penalizes “those who chose to do things the right way and come here legally” over “those who broke our immigration laws.”

Rubio’s statement undermines the social construct of a Hispanic group that bonds the disparate Latino groups. Many of the activist members of this group dismissed Rubio as a “gusano” – a worm or a maggot – a term popularly used to refer to reactionary Cuban exiles that came here during the 1960s.

Prior to his epiphany Rubio had no interest in Mexican or Latino immigrants; his sudden awakening and concern about immigration was kindled because of the strength of the Latino vote, and Mr. Rubio’s presidential aspirations. Based on his surname Rubio claims the right to take ownership of the issue, even though his base is the Tea Party and the far right of the Republican Party.

Up to this point, Rubio has not had to worry about other Latin American groups. His base is in Florida among Cuban-Americans. Cubans can legally migrate to the U.S. through various programs – options that are not open to other Latin Americans.

They get special treatment and are not subject to the restrictions and caps that Mexico and other countries are. “Cubans who have been physically present in the United States for at least one year may adjust to permanent resident status at the discretion of the Attorney General—an opportunity that no other group or nationality has.”

Many Cuban refugees are eligible for Supplemental Security Income (SSI). They have received up to $637 a month — married couples $956. They are also eligible for other subsidies.

As refugees the Cuban Entrants and families with children under 18 may be eligible for cash assistance through a state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. More important they get health benefits. Cuban American organizations get special assistance from the federal and state governments.

Rubio’s duplicity has enraged Mexican Americans and other Latinos. He legitimizes the most reactionary of nativist rhetoric stating it would benefit those who broke the law, penalize the people who stood in line and got here legally and calls for tougher border control.

What Rubio shows is that Latinos in the United States are not a community. It raises other important questions such as why were Cubans allowed to cut into the line? Were they were being given preferential treatment? They received benefits that Mexicans and others have not received such free medical care, stipends or pension funds. Would life for many of undocumented immigrants have been any different if they had not been forced to go underground? If they had not been hounded, insulted and stereotyped?

The senator from Florida also calls for greater border security. Would he be so quick to ask for the same treatment for members of his own family? I don’t think so!

This is in stark contrast to the Mexican community that has done it the old fashion way, they worked for it.

It is understandable that the Mexican-American community is offended and enraged by Rubio’s statements. However, I do believe that our reaction should not include hyperbole such as calling him a gusano, although he may very well be one.

The term, however, is dated and unfair to many Cuban-Americans who have criticized and criticize the politics of the Miami Mafia. Many of the younger Cubans are breaking with the politics of reaction. The Christian Science Monitor reported: “President Obama won a record number of Cuban American votes in this election, 47 percent to Romney’s 50 percent. This is a full ten points above the previous high water mark (reached by Obama in 2008) by a Democratic politician. No longer can Cuban Americans be characterized a ‘reliable Republican’ constituency.’” The Pew Hispanic Center adds that Cuban Americans favored Obama 49-47 percent. This is a fundamental shift.

The truth be told, Rubio’s own constituency is shrinking. Cuban-Americans are not a homogenous group, and their words and actions should define them – not the sins of their grandfathers. They know that, and unlike their grandfathers they have experienced and recognize racism. In this they resemble Mexican refugees who came into the country after the start of the Mexican Revolution of 1910, many of whose great grandchildren are Chicanos. We must remember that not everybody’s’ grandfather rode with Pancho Villa.

At the same time, the Mexican-origin population should not be shy about defining protecting their own interests. Conservatively, over two-thirds of the Latino population is Mexican-origin; 75-80 percent are Middle Americans. In contrast 3.5 percent of the Latino construct is of Cuban-origin. This gap will grow with Mexican women having a median age of 24 versus 40 percent for Cuban women. It makes sense that the political, social and economic interests of the whole be addressed which is what Rubio forgets.

The picture of the immigration bill is blurred and it could become a nightmare. Something is not better than nothing. Families must be united, and the borders and human rights should not end or start at the Rio Grande. When we talk about the securing of the border we have to talk about protecting citizens on both side of the border from abuse. ICE must be controlled and repent – better still abolished.

Rubio is a bagman, and he should not be given the importance of calling him names. The worm has a useful function in our ecology. Rubio does not.

The focus should be taken away from Spanish-surname Republicans like Rubio and Ted Cruz (R-Tex). We have to remember that Cruz is a Cuban-American with a southern drawl. Like Rubio he is Tea Party poster boy. Cruz opposes the DREAM Act, advocates building a border wall and calls the deferred deportation policy for childhood arrivals illegal and unconstitutional.

Still, he was elected in Texas which has historically housed a large Mexican-origin population. Many people were surprised that he only received 35 percent of the Latino vote. I was stunned that got that many. The overwhelming portion of the Latino vote is Mexican-origin. Considering his record, how could anyone have voted for him? The fact is that he had a Spanish-surname was a factor –after all we are all Hispanic, aren’t we?

Lest cynicism get the best of us, not all non-Mexicans are bad candidates and should be considered their merits. In hind sight the Mexican label was much stronger 30 years ago when we elected a slew of Mexican-American incumbents. What our success in electing Latino candidates proved is that Mexican Americans could mess it up as much as white people.

In my estimation, Dr. Richard Carmona was as an attractive candidate as is possible in Arizona. He ran for the U.S. Senate in 2012. He probably should have won but the election in all probability was stolen. However, the failure of some Mexican Americans to back him probably also played a role. Carmona is of Puerto Rican background – has a history of community service.

Senators such as Rubio and Cruz are giving the Latino label a bad name thus it is more difficult to separate the good, the bad and the ugly. The interests of our community are too important to leave it to them and their ilk.

Rodolfo Acuña, Ph.D., is an historian, professor emeritus, and one of various scholars of Chicano studies, which he teaches at California State University, Northridge. He is the author of Occupied America: A History of Chicanos. Dr. Acuña writes various opinions on his Facebook page and allows sites to share his thoughts.