Marco Gutierrez, the founder of Latinos for Trump, was on MSNBC when he made one of the most nonsensical claims of this presidential campaign. During an interview on “All In With Chris Hayes,” Gutierrez was arguing the importance of Donald Trump’s immigration plan when the Mexican-born Trump surrogate started to go a little haywire. Rather than using statistics, Gutierrez argued that if Trump loses the presidential race, the U.S. will be plagued with “taco trucks on every corner.” TACO TRUCKS ON EVERY CORNER.
“My culture is a very dominant culture,” Gutierrez told Joy Reid. “It is imposing, and it’s causing problems. If you don’t do something about it, you’re going to have taco trucks on every corner.”
Of course, in the 21st century, this comment created its own hashtag, #TacoTrucksOnEveryCorner. What Gutierrez thought was a nightmare scenario actually sounded like a dream come true to lots of people.
In 2005, the DNA Fingerprint Act updated a former law‚ the DNA Identification Act of 1994, which denied authorities to obtain DNA from “arrestees who have not been charged in an indictment or information with a crime, and DNA samples that are voluntarily submitted solely for elimination purposes, from being included in the National DNA Index System.” In other words, the DNA Fingerprint Act was revised to protect the privacy rights of immigrants. In 2010, the DNA Fingerprint Act was again revised because of then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who said government agencies didn’t have the resources back then to gather DNA from “migrants in custody who weren’t facing criminal charges or those pending deportation proceedings,” so another clause was put in place for them. Now, in another move in the attack on migrants, the Trump Administration wants to change that.
The Trump Administration is continuing forward with its push to collect DNA samples from every migrant person that enters the U.S.
According to the New York Times, “a homeland security official said in a call with reporters on Wednesday that the exemption [put in place in 2010] was outdated, and that it was time to eliminate it.” That statement means the government now has resources to sort through and gather DNA, which it didn’t have in 2010. But that assumption is a stark contradiction since border agents, and immigration officials are severely understaffed.
Immigration advocates are calling foul on this tactic by the Trump Administration who continues to criminalize migrants who are seeking asylum. Once their DNA is in the system, they will forever be recorded as felons.
“That kind of mass collection alters the purpose of DNA collection from one of criminal investigation basically to population surveillance, which is basically contrary to our basic notions of a free, trusting, autonomous society,” Vera Eidelman, a staff lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, told The New York Times.
The government began collecting DNA from migrants starting this summer.
At some point, this summer border agents began collecting DNA from migrants in order to verify whether or not they were related to the people they were traveling with. Agents were trying to prove whether family units entering the country together were actually related or traveling under false information. The DNA they gathered at the point was just to show family DNA.
“This was really an investigative tool in attacking the fraudulent family phenomenon,” an ICE official said to CNN about the operation that began this summer. “We’re interested in using this as a tactical law enforcement tool, one of many, to be deployed when looking at a potential fraudulent family scenario.”
This new type of DNA that the administration is aiming to get would provide more extensive information and also would not be shared with other law enforcement agencies.
The problem here lies with privacy concerns. For example, if an immigration official gathers DNA information from a migrant who entered the country illegally only to be given asylum later — because the court process takes a very long time — that person, who has the option of becoming a U.S. citizen at some point now has a criminal stain on their record for the rest of their life.
Writer Kelly Hayes wrote an extensive Twitter thread that exposes the extensive damage and intrusion this form of DNA gathering will have for years to come.
“A DNA registry for migrants,” Hayes tweeted. “Imagine the ugly possibilities of having a marginalized group of people that large cataloged according to their DNA, and that catalog being in the hands of the state. I know folks are focused on Ukraine, but this is a whole thing. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands of people, including children. With evolving technologies, the potential surveillance applications of a massive DNA registry are ominous AF.”
It’s unclear when this DNA collection will officially begin, even though the New York Times reports that Homeland Security officials have already said they have the right to get DNA from migrants. However, the Supreme Court has already ruled undocumented people have rights just as U.S. citizens do.
“Though the Supreme Court has found that the constitutional right to privacy applies to everyone within the United States, regardless of their immigration status, a more restrictive interpretation of the Fourth Amendment has been applied within a 100-mile zone of the border, where suspicionless searches are allowed, even of American citizens,” the Times reports. And yet we already know some attorneys are trying to fight that the Fourth Amendment doesn’t apply to undocumented people.
Like most other American families, Latino-American families can be home to a wide range of differing political opinions, leaving family members on each side of the aisle appalled with each other’s opposite opinions. You might be a liberal trying to understand how your brown, immigrant mami is walking around in a MAGA hat, or you might be just as pleased as we are that the Latino vote is finally being more closely examined. Either way, The Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston has given a home to Professor Rottinghaus and co-author Rudy Fonseca, who just published a study complete with answers to all your questions.
Myth #1: “Latinos are Natural Democrats…but it Ain’t Happening in Texas”
Tejanos are more likely to be registered Republicans than Latinos in other states. Twenty-seven percent of Tejanos identified as Republican, compared to 21 percent of Latinos in all other states during a 2014 Gallup poll. That said, the study reports that “divisive rhetoric and harsh immigration policies has led many to hit the alarm.” As of September 2019, Trump has a 24 percent approval rating among Latinos, compared with an average of 30 percent to 35 percent of the Latino vote typically given to Republicans.
Bottom line: The majority of Latino-Americans identify with the Democratic party, but about a third of us identify as Republican.
Myth #2: “Latinx Republicans Must Be Less Conservative than Other Republicans”
This myth is also pretty close to the truth, but it’s not the whole story. While Latino Republicans are more likely to identify as “somewhat conservative” than Republicans as a whole, it doesn’t mean they fall right in the middle of the political spectrum. An October 2016 Texas Tribune poll illustrated that Latino Republicans are far less likely to identify as “extremely conservative” than their Republican counterparts as a whole.
Bottom line: Latino Republicans are slightly less conservative than Republicans as a whole, but are still squarely Republican. Rottinghaus’s study notes that the party is likely to lose Latino voters if they continue to lean more extremely to the right.
Myth #3: “Latinx Republicans Are Moderating Recently As Republican Party Rhetoric Grows more Conservative”
Myth #2 brings us straight to myth #3. Latino Republicans are growing more conservative over time. Another Texas Tribune poll just two years later showed that 27 percent of Latino Republicans are now identifying as “extremely conservative,” as compared to 19 percent just two years prior.
The same poll broke down some differences of opinion. When it comes to deportation, border security, trade negotiations, and judicial nominees, Latino Republicans were less in favor of Trump’s tactics than other Republicans. They were also 18 percent less likely to feel that “Trump cares about people like you” than the Republican party as a whole.
Bottom line: The myth is true. Latino Republicans are more moderate compared to the Republican party at large.
Myth #4: Latinos are Culturally Conservative, And This is the Only Reason They Support the Republican Party
The study concludes what we all already knew. If you had to genuflect in front of a Jesus painting at the entrance of your house, that (i.e. religion) plays a “major role” in choosing the Republican party. Those religious values that determine pro-life and anti-gay marriage political beliefs strongly swing a Latino’s choice of party.
Bottom line: Of course, cultural beliefs are not the “only reason” Latinos might become Republicans. Homeowners and Latinos who have established roots in the U.S. for several generations are more likely to support the Republican party. Men are also more likely than Latinas to identify as Republican. The higher the income, the higher the probability a Latino might identify as a Republican.
Myth #5: “Latinx Republicans are “Softer” On Illegal Voting and Immigration Than Other Republicans”
The study concludes that while Latino Republicans, in fact, are “softer” on these issues than other Republicans, the one area that sets them apart is deportation. A Texas Tribune 2016 poll showed 19 percent of Latino Republicans “strongly agreed” that “undocumented immigrants should be deported immediately,” compared to 35 percent of all Republicans.
Bottom line: When it comes to immigration, Latino Republicans don’t see it as such a serious threat as other Republicans, but that gap is beginning to close. The 2018 Texas Tribune poll showed a nearly 15 percent rise in general opinion that “undocumented immigrants should be deported immediately,” and the gap between Latino Republicans and the party as a whole has closed by 2 points.
Myth #6: Latinos Don’t Feel Welcome in the Republican Party
The Houston study completely debunked this myth, finding that 61 percent of Latinx Republicans do feel welcome in the Republican party, compared to 68% of all Republicans. They might not feel as welcome as other Republicans, but the majority do feel welcome.
Bottom line: While Latino-Republicans feel welcome in their own party as a whole, only 22 percent of them feel the Republican party is “doing a good job” in reaching out to Latinos, according to the study. “The “sleeping giant” is real: Latinos are predicted to become the largest population group in Texas by 2022,” the study concludes. If immigration is where Latino Republicans have differing views, the continued focus on deportation in the 2020 campaign could cause Latino Republicans to feel even less welcome in their own party.
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