“They are undergoing an unprecedented demographic challenge,” said Skrentny. “The world has never seen this before, where birthrates have plummeted well below replacement level.” CCIS Director John Skrentny discusses Italy’s dwindling population and dual citizenship.
Wayne A. Cornelius, CCIS Director Emeritus, has been honored with Mexico’s highest award for foreigners: the Order of the Aztec Eagle. Cornelius was selected “for his work of more than five decades to achieve greater and better understanding of Mexico in the United States”.
Two San Diegans awarded Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners (U-T San Diego)
UCSD scholar Wayne Cornelius and Rancho La Puerta Founder Deborah Szekely
BY SANDRA DIBBLE JUNE 6, 2012
For San Diegan Deborah Szekely, volunteerism and philanthropy are a way of life. (John Gastaldo • U-T)
Two San Diegans — a scholar who found fulfillment studying Mexican migrants and a refugee who built a successful spa in Baja California — are receiving Mexico’s highest honor for foreigners, it was announced Wednesday.
Wayne Cornelius, 66, a longtime professor at the University of California San Diego, was selected “for his work of more than five decades to achieve greater and better understanding of Mexico in the United States,” according to a statement by President Felipe Calderón.
Deborah Szekely, the 90-year-old founder of the internationally known Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, was praised for contributions “oriented to preserving the environmental, social and cultural heritage over the past seven decades.”
A third American recognized with the distinction — called the Order of the Aztec Eagle — is Rick Bayless, a chef who specializes in Mexican cuisine. He hosts the PBS television series “Mexico: One Plate at a Time,” which recently aired a segment on Baja California cuisine.
“Mexico has always been my focus, my passion,” Cornelius said. “I have unlimited respect and admiration for all those generations of migrants who have had the courage to leave their homes and try to make a life for themselves and their children in the United States — for all the obstacles they have faced in doing so.”
Cornelius and Szekely learned of their selection from U-T San Diego on Wednesday. The announcements were made in Diario Oficial de la Federación, the Mexican government’s official registry.
Szekely, who also founded the Golden Door spa in Escondido, has received much recognition as she celebrates her 90th birthday. But “this is the one that takes the cake,” she said.
She gives much credit to her daughter, Sarah Livia Szekely Brightwood, current president of Rancho La Puerta and the force behind much of the environmental work carried by the spa through its foundation.
In his proclamation, Calderón highlighted the spa’s community-service projects in Tecate, including:
- environmental training and campouts for 25,000 children
- protection of 2,000 acres of Rancho La Puerta through the 2004 establishment of a conservation easement with the Mexican environmental group Pronatura
- and financing of a program to improve the urban zone around the Tecate River.
Close ties with the community have been key to the spa’s success, said Szekely, who moved to Tecate in 1940 with her husband, Edmond, as World War II refugees.
“What we did could never have been done in any other place,” she said. “My husband and I got there as undocumented aliens, no papers, no money. This (honor) is for the people who welcomed us.”
In his remarks for Cornelius, Calderón said the professor’s “research has influenced the manner in which shapers of opinion and decision-makers in the United States perceive the Mexican reality.”
The president cited Cornelius’ 38 years of teaching, noting that he “has trained a great number of experts on Mexico in different universities.” He also mentioned Cornelius’ role in founding the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies in 1979 and the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies in 1999, both at UC San Diego.
CCIS Research Associate Zoltan Hajnal’s article on the future of American politics is published in The New York Times.
BY ZOLTAN HAJNAL and TAEKU LEE JUNE 4, 2012
A volunteer for Mi Familia Vota working to register people to vote in Denver.
(Matthew Staver for The New York Times)
The demographic future of the United States is clear. Sometime around 2050 today’s racial and ethnic minorities will likely become a majority. Understanding that change is one of the keys to understanding the future of American politics, but not in the way that most people believe. The conventional view is that in the decades to come the growing minority population and its strong ties to the Democratic Party will be a boon to Democrats and a blight for Republicans.
But that view overlooks the two central features of America’s racial and ethnic minority population: ambivalence about both political parties, and at the moment, staggeringly low rates of political participation. Most Asian-American and Latino adults are not tied to either political party and most currently do not vote.
Many of the numbers do point to Democratic ascendance. On one side of the equation, the Republican Party has effectively become the party of white America. More than 90 percent of John McCain’s votes in 2008 came from white Americans. On the other side, the Democratic Party has largely won over the minority vote. In 2008 Barack Obama won 95 percent of the black vote, 67 percent of the Latino vote, and 62 percent of the Asian-American vote. This pull toward the Democratic Party is not specific to Obama: in the 2010 Congressional elections, exit polls show that Democratic candidates garnered 91 percent of the black vote, 66 percent of the Latino vote and 59 percent of the Asian-American vote.
Putting together demographic trends with past performance, most observers and strategists say that Republican demise is all but inevitable. We don’t. Our research shows that the dominant force among minorities is not attachment to the Democratic Party but uncertainty about where they fit into American politics.
When asked in national surveys, most Latinos and Asian-Americans say that they don’t fit into a party at all. The largest segments of the Latino and Asian-American populations do not identify as Democrats, as the conventional wisdom would suggest, but rather as “nonidentifiers” – those who refuse altogether to answer a question about party identification or who claim that they do not think in partisan terms. Combined, these nonidentifiers and others who expressly state they are ‘independent’ make up the clear majority of both groups. All told, 56 percent of Latinos and 57 percent of Asian-American identify as independent or as nonidentifiers. Even among blacks, there are signs of growing ambivalence. For example, almost 30 percent of blacks feel that the Democratic Party does not work hard for black interests.
Critically, this nonpartisan population is neither apolitical nor unreachable. A lot of racial and ethnic minorities are currently on the sidelines of American politics, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Today’s minorities are no different from the minorities of yesterday in one very important sense: They are politically approachable and readily mobilized. A range of recent experimental studies has shown that when politically inactive minorities are contacted by parties and especially when they are properly approached, many of them do become engaged and participate.
What this means is that the future of the minority vote, and consequently the balance of power in American politics, is still very much up for grabs. If either party wants to attain dominance, it ignores this segment of the American population at its own peril.
The real challenge is how. Targeting the “median voter” no longer makes sense. America is now too diverse with too many different sets of concerns and issues. It is far from obvious where today’s median voter lies and less than clear which segments of the electorate will be drawn to a strategy to vie for that median voter.
Instead, we suggest that to reach America’s increasingly mixed electorate, candidates and political parties should run a multifaceted and multiracial campaign. Rather than ignore race or use race to lure whites together into a largely exclusionary majority, the alternative we offer is a strategy of smartly and selectively narrow casting to different voters, where and when it is appropriate. Essentially, parties should endeavor to build future winning coalitions through a mixed strategy of broadly based meat-and-potatoes issues like taxes, the deficit, safety nets, and foreign policy that brand Democrats as Democrats and Republicans as Republicans with tightly packaged appeals to targeted electorates.
This strategy is complex. It entails collecting good focus group and polling data on groups like Latinos and Asian-Americans, then carefully combing through a political agenda, then finding a fit that homes in on issues of particular concern to groups like Latinos and Asian-Americans without repelling support from one’s party base or centrist Independents. For Latinos, that issue might be some narrow elements of immigration reform, like allowing children a path to citizenship through college or the military – a policy that was needlessly attacked by Republican leaders. For Asian-Americans, either party might make inroads without raising a ruckus by strengthening incentives for highly skilled immigrants or by finding non-polarizing ways of further supporting the enforcement of language accommodations in existing election laws. For African-Americans, now might be an opportune moment for either party to take a strong stand against Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law or especially egregious forms of racial profiling, without incurring a full-on political backlash.
The winnable set of issues may be thin, but the list is longer than you might think. Since the areas of unique concern to one group can often be inconsequential to the core concerns of a second (or third or fourth) group, this multipronged approach can slowly build up support from a fairly diverse array of interests. The key is to embrace the new reality of America’s diverse electorate through targeted issue-based appeals — rather than overlooking race altogether, making symbolic gestures, or seeing only zero-sum trade-offs between the continued loyalty of established racial groups and the burgeoning support of emerging groups.
The consequences are huge. Despite the Obama campaign’s remarkable mobilization of first-time Latino and Asian-American voters in 2008, more than half of voter-eligible citizens in these rapidly growing segments of the electorate stayed home. These are people who could be mobilized, who could be attracted to a party, and who could sway electoral outcomes. They should not be ignored.
At present, one party – the Democratic Party – has an edge with minority voters. But the eventual outcome of the battle for America’s diverse uncommitted population is far from settled. Ultimately, the extent to which minorities become fully politically incorporated and the success or failure of both political parties depends very much on how the Democrats and the Republicans approach America’s changing racial demographics.
Zoltan Hajnal and Taeku Lee are the authors of “Why Americans Don’t Join the Party: Race, Immigration, and the Failure (of Political Parties) to Engage the Electorate.’ Hajnal is professor of political science at the University of California, San Diego. Lee is professor of political science and law at the University of California, Berkeley.
Wayne A. Cornelius, CCIS Director Emeritus, comments on the decrease in Mexican immigration to the United States.
BY JULIA PRESTON APRIL 28, 2012
Migrant workers in Mexicali, Mexico, waited to legally cross into Calexico, Calif. Many work for $9 an hour picking crops. (Gregory Bull/Associated Press)
In what the report called a “notable reversal of the historic pattern,” the number of Mexicans leaving rose sharply in the five years after 2005, while the new flow of migrants coming from Mexico into the United States fell steeply, Pew demographers found.
For the first time in at least two decades, the population of illegal immigrants from Mexico living in this country significantly decreased, according to the report. In 2011, about 6.1 million Mexicans were living here illegally, down from a peak of nearly 7 million in 2007, it said.
“We really haven’t seen anything like this in the last 30 or 40 years,” said Jeffrey Passel, the senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center and a co-writer of the report with D’Vera Cohn and Ana Gonzalez-Barrera. The center, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington that does not advocate policy positions, has provided some of the most reliable estimates for the elusive numbers of Mexican immigrants.
Over all, the report said, about 58 percent of an estimated 11.2 million illegal immigrants in the United States are from Mexico.
The report provides material for all sides in the fierce debate over immigration policy. A major episode in that debate will take place on Wednesday when the Supreme Court hears arguments over a law passed by Arizona in 2010 to expand the powers of the local and state police to conduct immigration enforcement.
Arizona officials say that tough local enforcement measures like SB 1070, the statute they passed, are the most effective way to curb illegal immigration because they pressure migrants who lack legal status to return home. Immigrant advocates say those measures serve to separate families and drive illegal immigrants into the shadows, and they point to prolonged high unemployment in this country as the primary reason for reduced immigration.
Mr. Passel said the data does not allow Pew demographers to say which factor was most important in reducing the population of illegal immigrants. The report cited a mix, including high unemployment in the United States, particularly in the construction industry; heightened border enforcement and increased deportations by the American authorities; and a long-term decline in birth rates in Mexico.
The migration from Mexico that began after 1970 brought, by far, the largest numbers of immigrants from one country in American history, the report said, with about 30 percent of 39.6 million immigrants today having been born in Mexico. The 12 million Mexican-born people who live in the United States — about one in every 10 Mexicans in the world — comprise more than all the immigrants in any other country, the Pew report said.
The report presents a striking change from earlier findings by the Pew Hispanic Center on the number of Mexicans who have been returning to their country. While earlier Pew studies said the data did not show any exodus, the report published Monday includes new data from the 2010 Mexican census revealing that about twice as many Mexicans returned home from 2005 to 2010 than in the previous five years. In all, about 1.4 million people moved from the United States to Mexico in that time, the Mexican census showed.
The report cited Mexican data showing a big increase in the number of United States citizen children with Mexican parents who were living in Mexico — to about 500,000 in 2010 from about 240,000 in 2000. Some of those Americans are the children of deportees, the data suggested.
The report found that more Mexicans who were deported after coming to the United States to work said they were not likely to try to re-enter. About 20 percent of deportees in 2010 said they would not try to return, up from 7 percent in 2005. Still, in 2010, six in every 10 deportees said they would try to re-enter within seven days, according to the new Pew report.
The report did little to quell a controversy among demographers over the scope and causes of return migration to Mexico.
Steven A. Camarota, the director of research at the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, a group that advocates reduced immigration, noted that he had first reported an outflow of Mexicans in 2009. “The evidence is very strong,” Mr. Camarota said, “that there is a slowdown of people coming from Mexico and a big increase in people leaving.”
Wayne A. Cornelius, a director of the Center of Expertise on Migration and Health at the University of California, said that in his most recent field research, which drew on interviews with migrants in Mexico and California, there were no signs of increased return migration. The “overwhelming pattern,” he said, “is that migrants who have made it to the United States and found employment, particularly if it is relatively stable despite the recession, are hanging in there and riding it out.”
CCIS Associate Director, David FitzGerald, discusses the shifts in immigration from Mexico to the U.S.
Seismic shifts in immigration and demographics leave towns full of young men who once would have dreamed of the US
BY EDWARD HELMORE APRIL 25, 2012
Potential migrants say the US border crossing is not itself a dissuading factor, but racial discrimination and hostility are. Photograph: Carlos Barria/Reuters
In a typical year, the young men in this agricultural region of western Mexico would have made the journey north to America. But not this year or for this generation: a better future across the border is a promise they no longer trust.
“For years, we dreamed of America, but now that dream is no good,” says 18-year-old Pedro Morales, sitting in the elegant Spanish colonial square of Comala under the shadow of the spectacular Volcan de Fuego. “There are no jobs and too many problems. We don’t want to go.”
In an historic shift, the tide of immigration from Mexico to the US has stalled. Villages that were empty of young men are now full. A report published by the Pew Hispanic Center this week confirmed what was already anecdotally clear: the largest wave of immigration in US history has stalled and is now close to slipping into reverse.
Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States, less than half the number that migrated between 1995 and 2000. At the same time, the number of Mexicans who moved to Mexico over the same period rose to 1.4 million, double the number over the previous five years.
Other research groups in the field say the narrowing gap in wages and relative costs of living between Mexico and the US, as well as improving education standards in Mexico, has tipped the calculation back.
“The great migration of the past five decades has been slowing for a decade,” says Doug Massey, founder of the Mexican Migration Project at Princeton University. “We’ve been at a point of stasis since 2009.”
On the US side, election year tough-on-immigration rhetoric has obscured the subtleties of the US-Mexico relationship.
But in Mexico, increased border controls on the US side, as well as controversial anti-immigrant legislation passed in states like Alabama and Arizona, are only overt signals that the US may have entered a period of sustained hostility toward its southern, economically vital neighbour.
Potential migrants say the border is not itself a dissuading factor, but racial discrimination and hostility, efforts to deny employment, education and healthcare are, as is increased exposure to arrest and deportation.
“The reason they’re coming home is because they have no options, no papers, and the laws are more aggressive,” says Fernando Morett, a shopkeeper in the coastal town of Chiutlan. “It’s complicated, and people are debating it. If they don’t have friends in the US and they have to pay to cross the line, it’s not worth it.”
For Mexicans already in the US, the decision to return is still fraught with uncertainty. “But at least here they have the option of food and shelter, and they suffer less than in the US,” says Morett.
The turnaround is striking. While studies that show migrant workers are net economic contributors and form the bedrock of construction, farming and catering during boom years, there is evidence the crackdown is creating a new underclass.
“It’s a huge drag on social and economic mobility in the country if
you’ve got no rights whatsoever,” says Massey. Economic improve-
ment in Mexico and across Latin America, coupled with declining
fertility rates (from an average of seven children in 1960 to just over
two now) suggests the region may soon no longer have a surplus workforce.
Further, the hardened US attitudes toward foreigners is keenly felt. Cesar Castellano, a taxi driver waiting for a fare in Comala, describes how his brother worked eight years at the same California restaurant.
“One morning the police came and searched everyone. He had no papers so they took him to the border at Tijuana. They wouldn’t let him see his family or collect his things. The restaurant gave him nothing. Now he’s working in construction here.”
The choice to stay home appears to have little to with the ongoing militarisation of the long US-Mexico border that started in the mid-1980s. The border now costs $3.5bn annually in fence construction and technology that includes drones and motion sensors. Critics say it’s an effective local employment boon – the number of border agents has tripled in recent years – but little more: the measures do not in themselves dissuade migrants.
Expansive new detention cells at typical border crossing are reported virtually empty. “We will always get over we want to,” says one of the young men in Colama. “If there were better opportunities in the US, we would go.”
David Fitzgerald, an immigration expert at the University of California San Diego, believes that 95% of those who attempt the crossing succeed. He believes border controls have inadvertently contributed to the ferocity of the cartel wars on the Mexican side – an insurgency that has killed 50,000 over the past four years.
The mom-and-pop “coyote” operations that once ran migrants across the border have been pushed out replaced by sophisticated operations that pay dues to the cartels for crossing their territory. Costs of a cross-border transport have risen $2,500, a ten-fold increase in a decade.
“More agents has led to more coyotes, and it’s a more lucrative and complex business,” says Fitzgerald. “The gangs are not directly involved in people-smuggling, but they’re paid for the rights to cross their territory. Along the Gulf Coast, the Zetas have been preying on Central American migrants.”
But in Mexico’s rural towns, young men watch reports on TV of the violence in Ciudad Juarez and Monterrey and share anecdotes of migrants going missing with only their luggage ever turning up or of being Tasered by border control on the US side.
At Jalisco, traditionally one of the main sending states, the effects of border issues are keenly felt. Families are split when parents who lack papers are separated from their US-born children. Instead of being repatriated, apprehended migrants are subjected to periods of detention; penalties for overstaying on migrant worker visas have increased with longer periods of disbarment. Temporary work visas, while more plentiful, are also expensive to apply for.
With remaining migrants struggling for employment in the US, they’re less likely to be able to raise the steep fees to bring friends and family over. In Jalisco, that lack of opportunity has also given gangs opportunity for Mafia-style loan sharking and protection rackets tied to the state’s rival gangs, Los Nueva Generacion and pseudo-religious Knights Templar, which recently proclaimed it would stop the violence for the duration of the pope’s visit.
“The guys want money but they can’t go to America to make it. So then they lend it or demand money for protection, and that causes more problems,” says Castellano. “Perhaps it would be better everyone if they just opened the border.”
But in the current political and economic environment, he admits, that’s unlikely.
Associate Director, David FitzGerald, discusses the drop in number of Mexican immigrants coming to the United States.
The study by the Pew Hispanic Center cites the economic downturn and increased enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border as factors in the drop in the number of Mexicans coming to the country.
BY PALOMA ESQUIVEL and HECTOR BECERRA APRIL 24, 2012
Net migration from Mexico to the United States has come to a statistical standstill, stalling one of the most significant demographic trends of the last four decades.
Amid an economic downturn and increased enforcement at the U.S.-Mexico border, the number of Mexicans coming to the United States dropped significantly, while the number of those returning home increased sharply over the last several years, according to a report by the Pew Hispanic Center.
“The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill,” the report says.
Between 2005 and 2010, 1.4 million Mexicans immigrated to the United States, less than half the number that migrated between 1995 and 2000. At the same time, the number of Mexicans and their children who moved to Mexico in the same five-year period rose to 1.4 million, about double the number that did so between 1995 and 2000.
The estimates are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and on Mexican census data. The most recent data indicate that the historic flow of migrants into the U.S. might even have started to reverse.
“We’re fairly confident that by the end of the period we were seeing more people moving to Mexico than leaving” for the United States, said co-author Jeffrey S. Passel, a senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center.
Illegal immigrants from Mexico residing in the U.S. still outnumber their legal counterparts, but the proportion has shifted, the report found. The number of Mexican illegal immigrants residing in the U.S. fell from 7 million in 2007 to about 6.1 million in 2011. In the same period, the number of legal immigrants from Mexico residing here increased from 5.6 million to 5.8 million.
The report attributes the changes to several factors, including the weakened economy, increased border enforcement, a rise in deportations, growing dangers at the border and a long-term decline in Mexican birthrates. Which factor is dominant is still unknown.
“At this point, it’s very hard to say because all of them are kind of working in the same direction,” Passel said.
The report comes as the Supreme Court on Wednesday is set to take up elements of Arizona’s tough crackdown on illegal immigrants, known as SB 1070. Advocates for reduced immigration cited the report as proof that tightened enforcement works. Many immigrant advocates have long cited job prospects as a primary factor in decisions to migrate.
Several factors in Mexico contributed to the shift, including a drop in fertility rates there, according to the report’s authors. That rate dropped from 7.3 children per woman in 1960 to 2.4 in 2009, meaning there are fewer people entering the workforce. At the same time, indicators of development such as literacy, average years of education and healthcare have improved.
The Mexican demographic trends and the U.S. political shift toward increased enforcement mean that immigration from Mexico is probably down for the long run, said David Fitzgerald, a sociology professor with the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at UC San Diego.
Even if the U.S. economy bounces back, he said, there’s strong reason to believe that illegal immigration from Mexico will never surge the way it did about 10 years ago, he said.
The Center for Comparative Immigration Studies does an annual survey of three communities in Mexico that are routine sources of immigrants to the U.S. All three show decreases in immigration, he said.
“This report is showing at the binational level what we’ve seen at the community level in the sense that new, unauthorized immigration to the U.S. has dropped off dramatically,” Fitzgerald said. “I think by far the most important factor is the downturn in the U.S. job market, and the second factor is the concentrated border enforcement activity.”
Fitzgerald said it’s too early to say whether tough state laws have caused illegal immigrants to return to Mexico, although there is evidence that Arizona’s law caused some people to leave that state, he said.
Advocates against illegal immigration said the report confirms that stricter enforcement combined with tougher job prospects work to curtail illegal immigration.
“If you dry up the job magnet because of the bad economy or increased work-site enforcement, you reduce illegal immigration,” said Bob Dane, a spokesman for the Federation for American Immigration Reform, which advocates for restricted immigration.
The federal government needs to continue to crack down on illegal immigration, regardless of the report’s conclusions, Dane said.
“The fact remains there’s still 7 million illegal aliens occupying jobs that should go to American citizens,” he said. “It’s nowhere near mission accomplished.”
Jessica Dominguez, a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney, said increasing numbers of deportees who have families in the U.S. are not returning because the trip is more dangerous and the consequences of being caught are more severe.
“Some people are staying away until they can come back legally,” Dominguez said. “They don’t want to be exposed to being detained again and losing the opportunity to come back legally later. The laws are very strict at this point.”
About 29% of the immigrant population is from Mexico, far surpassing the next largest group, Indians, who comprise about 4.5% of the 40-million immigrants living in the U.S., according to the report. The number of Mexicans who came to the U.S. over the last several decades surpasses that of any other nationality in U.S. history, but when measured as a share of the U.S. immigrant population at the time, the Irish and German influx in the 19th century equaled or exceeded the Mexican migration, the report noted.
CCIS graduate student researchers David Keyes and Angela S. García comment on their report, “Life as an Undocumented Immigrant: How Restrictive Local Immigration Policies Affect Daily Life,” in U-T San Diego, La Opinión, NBC San Diego, and Univision San Diego.
CCIS scholar Zoltan Hajnal discusses Republican strategy on Latino voters.
BY DANA MILBANK FEBRUARY 14, 2012
When it comes to Latino voters, Republicans must have un impulso suicida.
What else but a death wish could explain the party’s treatment of the fastest-growing voting bloc in the nation? First was the wave of Arizona-style immigration laws. Then came the anti-immigrant rhetoric from the GOP presidential candidates. On Tuesday, Senate Republicans roughed up Adalberto Jose Jordan — because, well, just because they could.
Jordan is the very picture of the American dream: Born in Cuba, he fled with his parents to the United States at age six and went on to become a lawyer and clerk for Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. With the support of his home-state senator, Republican Marco Rubio (Fla.), a fellow Cuban American, Jordan was nominated to become the first Cuban-born judge to serve on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Alabama, Georgia and Florida.
There is no serious objection to his confirmation — which makes the hazing he has experienced all the more inexplicable. Republicans slow-walked his nomination (he was approved unanimously by the Judiciary Committee in July), then filibustered his confirmation vote on the Senate floor. Even when the filibuster was broken Monday night (by a lopsided 89-5), a lone Republican, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, used a procedural hurdle to postpone the confirmation vote by two days, to Wednesday.
Congressional staffers I checked with couldn’t recall a similar instance of blocking a confirmation even after a filibuster had failed. This would seem to be a unique humiliation for a man hailed by the Hispanic National Bar Association because of “the positive message this nomination sends to the Latino community.”
Paul, whose home-state Hispanic population is just 3 percent, had a different message. He used his senatorial prerogative to leave Jordan twisting in the wind for another 30 hours – because Paul wanted to use him as leverage to secure an extraneous amendment (rescinding foreign aid to Egypt) to an unrelated bill (transportation).
“Some senators are concerned that I may be delaying a vote in the Senate. This is not true,” Paul said on the floor Tuesday morning, in direct contradiction of the facts. He complained about assistance going to the Egyptians, who “now hold 19 U.S. citizens virtually hostage.”
Republican leaders couldn’t — or wouldn’t — defy their colleague. Asked about the holdup, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) said only: “I’m a great admirer of the junior senator of Kentucky.”
Democrats waited out the delay by reminding Republicans of their tone-deafness. “He’ll be the first Cuban-born judge to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (Vt.) said, standing alongside a poster of the nominee. Leahy complained that if the biblical Moses were nominated, there are “some on the other side who would demand to see Moses the Lawgiver’s birth certificate to make sure he wasn’t born in Kenya.”
Republicans should be sensitive to the tweak. The party’s presidential candidates have done long-term damage by vowing opposition to the DREAM Act (legalization for illegal immigrants who serve in the armed forces) and by trying to paint each other as too soft on immigration (highlighted by Herman Cain’s call for a lethal electric fence). Rubio and Jeb Bush have called for an end to what Rubio called “harsh and intolerable” rhetoric.
The Hispanic population is expected to double — to 30 percent of the United States population — in the coming decades. So if Latinos continue to vote 2-to-1 for Democrats, the Republican Party will become irrelevant. Zoltan Hajnal of the University of California, San Diego, an authority on racial politics, sees a parallel with the Republicans’ alienation of African Americans in the 1960s. “The image of the party is pretty clear to most Latinos,” he said, “and once party images are built, they get passed on from parent to child in a process that’s very resistant to change.”
The party simply can’t afford self-inflicted wounds such as the Jordan debacle. “He’s an integral part of our community,” Rubio told his colleagues.
But Republicans didn’t care enough about that to stand up to Paul. Through the “debate” on the nomination, one senator after the other came to the floor — and ignored the delay.
Some spoke about transportation. Others spoke about the budget. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) spoke about the wonders of his state. “The lettuce in your salad this month almost certainly came from Arizona,” McCain said. “It’s also believed that the chimichanga has its origin in Arizona.”
The chimichanga? It may be the only thing Republicans have left to offer Latinos.