Dems to Get Huge Boost from Univision Latino Citizenship Drive

Spanish-language television giant Univision has launched a wildly successful campaign urging its audience to become U.S. citizens - and it may pay huge dividends for Democrats. According to an article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Univision's initial run of the campaign in Los Angeles caused citizenship applications to jump  123 percent in the first three months of the year compared to the first three months of last year (compared to a 59 percent increase in the rest of the United States). Now, Univision is sending its campaign national and similar results are expected nationwide - with major gains forecast for Democrats as a result.

The citizenship drive, which is about to go national, could help turn Latinos into a key electoral constituency in several states. A larger bloc of new Latino voters would likely influence the immigration debate that has been dividing the country. In part because of this, Hispanic voters in recent elections have tended to cast ballots mostly for Democrats. For instance, in the 2006 congressional contest, Republican candidates who take a harder line on illegal immigrants than their rivals garnered only 31% of the Latino vote.

Apart from immigration, Hispanics are animated by education and employment policies, so their greater participation could shape candidates' stances on those issues as well. Given past voting patterns, "a surge in naturalizations will benefit Democrats at least twice as much as Republicans," said Roberto Suro, director of the Pew Hispanic Center, a nonpartisan research organization. The impact could be biggest in Southwestern states such as Arizona, but it could reach as far as Florida, which recently has experienced a large influx of non-Cuban Hispanic immigrants.

In 2004, Bush won several heavily Latino states, including Colorado, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, by small margins - it's expected that the new citizens will help shift the balance of power there.

Univision deserves a great deal of credit for the extent to which they've pushed the campaign.

It is difficult to overstate how much firepower Univision is putting behind the effort. With a catchy slogan, "Ya Es Hora" ("It's About Time"), the campaign in L.A. has been integrated into every local newscast, in addition to being flogged in public-service announcements throughout the day.

During news shows, anchors pop questions from the civics test that applicants for citizenship are required to pass, such as "How many stars are on the U.S. flag?" Against a backdrop of stars soaring through the U.S. flag and the Statue of Liberty, a ticker counts down, from a goal of one million for the L.A. area, the number of persons who have applied for citizenship since the campaign started in Southern California. On Saturday mornings, a 30-minute program is devoted to teaching viewers the ABCs of becoming a U.S. citizen.

Of course, Democrats are going to have to continue to aggressively court Latinos if they want to retain the advantage that this Univision campaign seems to be giving them: Latino voters show many signs that they may act similarly to other largely Catholic ethnic groups that have come to this country as Democrats, become prosperous, and gradually become more conservative and Republican. Indeed, it's easy to see the impact of this process in Latino part registration statistics: foreign born Latinos call themselves Democrats by a 47-13 margin; native born Latinos are just 40 to 26 percent Democratic.

To a great extent, appealing to Latinos will require the same things that appealing to the rest of the electorate will: courageous politics, sincerity, and success in governance. In addition to immigration issues, Latino voters are also widely thought to put a high priority on family issues like education and health care. But there's one issue that hasn't gotten that much attention which could be key to winning Latino support: the environment. A number of state polls have indicated that Latino voters are more supportive of strong environmental protections than any other ethnic group - and that the environment is a bigger factor for them than other ethnic groups in their voting decisions - upending the (hopefully-dead) stereotype that the environment is just an issue for rich white dudes. Obviously, there are great reasons for this: not only do Latinos care as much or more than other communities about global issues like tropical forest conservation, whales, and climate deterioration, they also tend to see first hand the impacts of pollution: as with other minority communities, Latinos tend to suffer the effects of pollution at a higher rate than the population at large: with more asthma, cancer, and deaths. When I started work as an environmental organizer with Greenpeace in the overwhelmingly Chicano community of East Los Angeles, it didn't take long to convince people there that protecting the environment should be a priority: the acrid air they woke up to every morning was argument enough.

There's one issue that brings together Latino concern about the environment with concern about immigration laws: the concrete wall the Bush administration is building along the United States border with Mexico through wildlife refuges, Native American land, and longstanding communities. Not only is it offensive to our neighbor Mexico (and to people on both sides of the border), but it will also doom rare wildlife like the jaguar, ocelot, and ferruginous pygmy owl that range over both sides of the Sonoran and Sky Island ecosystems on the border. Democrats (and the environmental movement) could prevent much of this offensive wall from being built by refusing to fund it - if they show some courage in standing up against anti-environment, anti-Latino demagogues in the Republican Party who are cynically using the wall (which they know won't work to actually keep illegal immigrants out of the United States) to try and capitalize on strong anti-immigrant sentiment.

Now, with increasing numbers of Latino voters demanding Democrats stop abominations like the wall, perhaps Democrats will find the backbone to stop it.

- Glenn Hurowitz, author of forthcoming book Fear and Courage in the Democratic Party

Tags: citizenship, Democrats, Hispanic, immigration, latino, Media, Republicans, television, univision (all tags)

Comments

8 Comments

Say,,, Who gets a boost?

New Owner of Univision:

"How Haim Saban, a flinty self-made billionaire, plans to turn Univision into the next great network - and put Hillary Clinton in the White House. Fortune's Stephanie Mehta reports.

By Stephanie N. Mehta, Fortune senior writer
May 1 2007: 10:01 AM EDT

That's how Haim Saban begins his account of the battle for Spanish-language media company Univision. It's an unconventional icebreaker, to be sure, but then again, much about the 62-year-old media entrepreneur is out of the ordinary: He gossips with Rupert Murdoch, vacations with Bill Clinton, throws parties with Steven Spielberg, and confers with former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres..."
http://money.cnn.com/magazines/fortune/f ortune_archive/2007/05/14/100009182/inde x.htm

Nice one -- the Clintons and AIPAC are covering both bases...

by SandThroughTheEyeGlass 2007-05-11 11:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Dems to Get Huge Boost from Univision Latino C

Meanwhile, the progressive blogosphere all but ignores the immigration reform battle in congress this week.

Maybe diversity of blog writers and readers does matter?

by demondeac 2007-05-11 01:18PM | 0 recs
Re: Dems to Get Huge Boost from Univision Latino C

This is a great public service campaign, a very good case of corporate responsibility.  I hope this goes national and can have a huge impact.  Ultimately, we need more of these programs and we need to make sure that these folks are not being penalized for coming forward.  The process for citizenship should be easier, not harder, and should not include the "touchback" provisions and other needless measures just to please xenophobes.

by KDJ 2007-05-11 02:23PM | 0 recs
Re: Dems to Get Huge Boost from Univision Latino C

So this guy i pushing to get more latino to the polls just for Hillary??..Obama will have to counter on this...I've heard that the Clintons will now move more aggressively toward the latino voting block because the're scared that the black votes will eventually move toward barack...The black votes was their firewall, but Obama is fucking up their plans, so their new firewall will be the latino votes..That is if Hillary can't win Iowa which will generate a lot of bad press...This is why they need a strong firewall to destroy Edwards and Obama on super tuesday when the big states comes up.

I hope Obama will be doing some strong latino outreach because the latino votes could kill him in California, Arizona, Colorado and Nevada.

by JaeHood 2007-05-11 04:12PM | 0 recs
Re: Dems to Get Huge Boost from Univision Latino C

a primary firewall is not possable for Hillary becausde early defeats will lead to the is Hillary electable meme spreading like wild fire, she would be as done as Dean in 2004.

by nevadadem 2007-05-11 06:15PM | 0 recs
Si se puede!

As the son of immigrants from India, I can easily envision myself in the shoes of all who marched during May Day demanding immigration reform.

First and foremost with any debate examine the debate from a human perspective and ask yourself one quesiton?

How would you like to be treated?

Words which come to mind are fairness, morality, and humane.    

I hope the leaders in Washington will take point and examine the human perspective before the talk of walls, INS, and 'amnesty' become the opening salvo of talking points galore!

by optimusprime 2007-05-11 05:20PM | 0 recs
as a big obama supporter it is good news

for the party to get these voters Iowa New hampshire and South Carolina will probably decide the nomination but those extra votes in november in the southwest would be huge, for hillary Obama or Edwards.

by nevadadem 2007-05-11 06:13PM | 0 recs
Re: as a big obama supporter it is good news

New Hampshire Senate races and House races.  Democrats will feel a benefit there.  Quite possibly house races in SC too.  

by JeremiahTheMessiah 2007-05-12 06:27AM | 0 recs

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