Where’s the love?!
Last Thursday, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had their latest debate, this time in Brooklyn, N.Y., ahead of that state’s Tuesday primary. Organized by CNN, the debate covered a slew of topics, including gun control, foreign policy, bank regulation and reproductive rights. Noticeably absent from the discussion? The Latino community and topics that concern it.
In the two hours that Clinton and Sanders spent attacking each other, the word “Latino” was uttered exactly once.
“[I’m] putting together a very broad-based, inclusive coalition from the South to the North, from the East to the West, with African-Americans, Latinos, women, union households, working people and I am very proud of the campaign we are running,” Secretary Clinton in her closing remarks.
The failure to acknowledge Latinos beyond being lumped into Clinton’s coalition is just bonkers given that New York has nearly 3.5 million Latinos, making it home to the fourth-largest Latino population in the country.
Even more troubling is that immigration was absent from the conversation. While the issue isn’t polled as most important to Latinos — depending on which poll you cite, it’s either second or fourth on the list — it’s still a key concern, especially now that the future of President Obama’s executive action on deportation relief is uncertain. On Monday, the United States Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on United States v. Texas, which could determine the fate of 5.4 million undocumented individuals. “DACA,” “DAPA,” or even “immigration” were never mentioned. If struck down, DAPA and the DACA expansion could be the end of the line for any meaningful progress on immigration reform as long as Republicans hold on to the House of Representatives and the Senate.
And it’s not like Clinton or Sanders haven’t talked about immigration while stumping in New York. In the last two weeks, Clinton released a Spanish ad in New York on the topic, and even stated that she would create an office for immigration policy if elected. The Sanders camp, meanwhile, had an ad featuring Rosario Dawson where privately owned immigration detention centers were discussed.
New York state, by the way, has an estimated undocumented population of anywhere from 525,000 to 725,000 undocumented individuals.
Nor was there any mention of Puerto Rico being on the verge of defaulting, which is probably a concern to the more than 1 million people of Puerto Rican origin living in New York. That’s the highest concentration of boricuas living outside the island (3.5 million).
To their credit, Clinton and Sanders did talk about systemic racism and incarceration rates. Unfortunately, they only spoke about how it affected non-Latino African-Americans, which ignores the fact that we are still discriminated against and are overrepresented in prison populations.
From a strategic point of view, ignoring the Latino community doesn’t make sense. Sanders is trailing in New York in most polls, but he’s competitive with Latinos. On the flip side, Clinton has consistently won the Latino votes in states that have already held their caucuses and primaries, but Sanders has been giving her a run for her money with the Latino electorate.
So why the hell would you ignore us?
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