Tag: election 2008

Immigration Politics?: ICE Head Julie Myers Resigns Day After Election

Less than twelve hours after the results of this weeks’ election were announced, Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff announced Wednesday that Julie Myers, assistant secretary of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), is leaving the agency by November 15.

Myers, who has led the agency since 2006, was the controversial face of the Bush administration’s enforcement-focused immigration policy. As Feet In 2 Worlds has reported,  recent large-scale ICE raids have been deeply unpopular, particularly among Latino voters and voters from other immigrant groups, and served to further tarnish the Republican brand. Post election analysis shows that Latinos gave Obama the winning edge in six states, helping to propel him into the White House and adding to Democratic majorities in Congress.

During Myers’ tenure, the agency doubled the number of undocumented immigrants swept up into deportation proceedings to reach a new record of 274,000 sent back to their home countries in 2006. The agency also saw its budget grow exponentially — and used it mostly for enforcement tactics including large-scale immigration raids that largely targeted undocumented workers rather than their employers.

Myers leaves amid speculation that she was the source of the leak to The Associated Press about the status of Obama’s undocumented Kenyan aunt only a few days before the general election. According to Rolling Stone’s Tim Wilkinson, Myers’ precipitous departure the day after the election and less than a week after the information on Obama’s aunt was leaked is likely no coincidence.

Earlier this week, Feet in 2 Worlds reported on how the immigration story of Obama’s family –including his aunt, who continues to live in Boston after her asylum claim was denied last year– reflects the situation of many mixed-status families in the U.S. The news was notable for its timing –the story broke the Friday before the election–as well as for the privileged information it disclosed.



Analyzing the Latino Vote: Pilar Marrero on PRI’s The World

Reporter Pilar Marrero, a columnist for La Opinión newspaper in Los Angeles and Feet In 2 Worlds contributor, appeared yesterday on PRI’s nationally-syndicated radio show The World. She spoke with anchor Lisa Mullin about the impact of first-time Latino immigrant voters on the outcome of the presidential election.

Marrero reported –among other data– that Latino turnout held constant and that the Latino vote in Florida is shifting away from the Republicans.

You can listen to the segment here or you can visit the show’s website:


Latin American Immigrants Come Out in Force to Vote for Obama

Diego Graglia, FI2W blog editor

Latin American immigrants became an important segment of the American electorate in this election, representing forty percent of the overall Hispanic vote, according to data released this afternoon by pro-immigrant organization America’s Voice.

Initial estimates indicate that about 10 million Hispanics voted in this election, maintaining their 8 percent share of the national electorate in a year in which more Americans voted than in previous contests. While the percentage was the same, the size of the Hispanic electorate increased considerably from the 7.6 million Latinos who cast their votes in 2004 and the almost six million who did so in 2000.

Mexicans, Dominicans, and immigrants from Central and South American countries “voted overwhelmingly for Barack Obama for president,” according to pollster Sergio Bendixen, whose firm Bendixen and Associates conducted exit polls among Latino voters in Los Angeles and Miami. Bendixen said 78 percent of Latin American immigrant voters chose the Democratic candidate and 22 percent supported Republican John McCain.

Support for Obama was lower –61 percent– among U.S. born Hispanics, who were 50 percent of all Hispanic voters.

The remaining 10 percent of the Hispanic electorate is composed of two groups of non-immigrant Latinos: Cuban refugees and Puerto Rican U.S. citizens. While Puerto Ricans split 77 to 23 percent in favor of Obama, Bendixen reported, Cubans were the only subgroup to prefer John McCain, by a margin of 69 to 31 percent.

“Thirty-two percent of all Latin American immigrants who voted (in this election) were first-time voters,” Bendixen said today during a conference call with national media.

“There is no doubt that the immigration issue played a very important part in getting them involved in this presidential contest,” Bendixen added, indicating that the recent divisive immigration reform debate may well have energized many Latinos to vote this year, and helped Obama win the Presidency.


Latino and Immigrant Votes Likely Crucial to Obama’s Victory

JERSEY CITY, NJ – Suman Raghunathan, FI2W consultant

Over 63-million Americans voted for Barack Obama yesterday to be the nation’s 44th President, giving him a 53% to 46% victory over John McCain.

Pundits are saying that Obama’s historic victory hinged on suburban white voters turning out for him, on older white women, and overwhelming levels of support from immigrant voters. Certainly many of these voters were Latino – according to the National Association of Latino Elected Officials (NALEO), record Latino voter turnout nationwide in early voting was crucial to Obama’s victories in Virginia and Florida. NALEO is projecting over 9.4 million Latinos voted yesterday, and according to CNN News, 66% of Latinos supported Obama.

As we’ve written before at Feet in 2 Worlds, immigrant voters also include many other communities – particularly in the ‘salad’ of immigrant groups living in New York City.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund also saw large numbers of Asian American voters cast their vote yesterday. But what about immigrant voters as a whole?

Stay tuned for more details tomorrow on how these immigrants voted from the New York Immigration Coalition’s New Americans Exit Poll. Run by Barnard Political Science Professor Lorraine Minnite, the poll, the nation’s first and longest continuing effort to ask immigrant voters how and why they voted, reached 2500 voters at 32 polling sites in all five NYC boroughs. In addition to asking respondents the usual exit polling information about themselves – including if they were voting for the first time – the poll also will have information on the top issues that determined immigrants’ voting decisions, how they feel about the federal financial bailout, and any problems they encountered while voting.

We’ll have more details and analysis on immigrant voting patterns soon.

Detroiters Literally Dancing In The Streets For America’s First Black President

DETROIT – Martina Guzman, FI2W reporter

Detroiters cheered in bars, honked their horns and literally danced in the streets when Barack Obama became the president-elect.

Detroit is considered a black city: the population is more than eighty percent African American. It has had a black mayor for decades, black City Council members and elected officials. But as a veteran of multiple presidential and local campaigns, I have never seen an outpouring of joy over an election like I saw last night — there’s no precedent to compare it to.

This was not the kind of celebration that takes place after a major sports victory. And it was nothing like the usual party after winning an electoral race. This time, people in bars sobbed openly as Obama spoke to the nation. At the Park Bar, one of Detroit’s newest hangouts, no one was allowed to talk while Obama gave his speech — and no one did. People sat in silence, beaming, listening to every word he said.

“Oh my God, what a great country we live in,” said 42-year-old Louis Aguilar after Obama’s victory speech. Aguilar was one of the thousands of people who came out last night to watch the results roll in.

As the states turned blue, a trickle of cars honking their horns turned quickly into a midnight parade.


News Analysis: Obama’s Place in History

By John Rudolph – FI2W Executive Producer

When I was a kid my friends and I used to talk about when the first black U.S. president would be elected. It was a fair question in the 1960s for students at a mixed-race school in New York City. In that era black Americans were achieving “firsts” all the time – the first black Supreme Court Justice (Thurgood Marshall), the first black woman elected to Congress (Shirley Chisholm), the first black to win an Academy Award for best actor (Sidney Poitier in Lillies of the Fields), and the first black actress to star in her own TV show (Diahann Carrol in Julia).

Despite those achievements, and many others, the idea of a black person occupying the White House seemed a very long way off. The Civil Rights movement and the subsequent Black Power movement were in full swing. So was the white backlash against them – leading my school mates and me to predict that it might be a century before enough white Americans would be willing to cast their vote for a black candidate seeking the nation’s highest office.

We were wrong. This historic event occurred much sooner than any of us imagined, and for reasons that never entered our discussions. As America struggled, often violently, over racial integration and equal rights, we could not picture the multi-racial, multi-cultural nation that would emerge to elect a president some have called “post-racial.”

The 1965 Immigration and Naturalization Act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, was one of the seeds sown in that decade that has as much to do with Obama’s victory as the long fight for equality and justice for African Americans. By removing a system of quotas that favored white northern European immigrants, the law helped level the playing field for people around the world who wanted to come to America. They have been coming ever since, creating a nation that has grown more and more diverse over time, and which increasingly sees diversity and multi-racialism as a normal part of life.


In Gritty Jersey City, Eager Immigrants Stream to the Polls

JERSEY CITY, NJ – Suman Raghunathan, FI2W consultant

At a fire house in Jersey City, Arab, Filipino, and South Asian voters voted in a steady stream as the early evening fog rolled in.

Several immigrants, longtime residents and US citizens for decades, felt compelled by this election to cast their first votes ever.

A couple, originally from India, voted today for the first time. The husband, in the U.S. for 27 years and a U.S. citizen since 1987, said he “felt good” after voting. He noted he had been following the presidential election and that “policies were very important to determine my choice for President.” He voted for Obama, and cited three specific issues that determined his vote: the economy (“Obama’s policies are good”), the candidates’ approaches (“his thoughts are high”), and foreign policy (“he’s better because he wants to end the war”).

Another longtime U.S. citizen originally from Egypt and a U.S. resident for over two decades wandered over to the polling site hoping to vote. Unfortunately, he had not registered in time to vote this year. He cited civil liberties as key to his reasons for voting.  “Democrats are better – they stand for more freedom,” he said.  He was so enthusiastic about Sen. Barack Obama that he was already hoping he would get re-elected. He also cited Sen. Obama’s foreign policy plans as central to why he preferred the junior Senator from Illinois. In particular, he supported Sen. Obama’s decision to diplomatically engage with Iran: “You have to sit down and talk.” He also approved of Sen. Obama’s promises to pull US troops out of Iraq.

Two immigrant voters noted their labor unions had urged them to vote for Sen. Barack Obama. One of them, a 26-year old elementary school teacher originally from Egypt who has been living in the U.S. for 10 years, sighed, “Once you press the lever, you don’t know what [the candidates] will do… I have to be responsible to give my answers to God.”

Reynaldo Manito, a 61-year old voter originally from the Philippines, proudly declared he “always voted straight Democrat”. Manito, a waiter at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, and a member of the Local 6 hotel and restaurant workers said he came to the US in 1980 and had been voting since 1995. In between drags on his cigarette, he described the difference between the major parties as follows,  “Democrats are for the poor, and Republicans are for the rich.”

Back to Where It All Started: New Hampshire Public Radio Focuses on Immigrant Vote

Even though New Hampshire’s immigrant population is growing rapidly, there are still relatively few immigrants living in the Granite State – site of the “first in the nation” presidential primary.  On election day New Hampshire Public Radio’s Word of Mouth took a rare look at immigrant voters in New Hampshire and around the nation with Feet In Two Worlds Executive Producer John Rudolph and Eduardo A. de Oliveira, a Brazilian journalist who writes for the Nashua Telegraph and New England Ethnic News.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Asian American Watchdog Group Cites Voting Day Irregularities

NEW YORK – Yan Tai, World Journal reporter

As Election Day drew to an end, an Asian American watchdog group said there were more problems among Asian American voters than people thought.

The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, a civil rights organization based in New York, said Tuesday that for many Asian American voters things did not go that smoothly. The group sent 1,400 attorneys, law students and community volunteers to cover 130 polling sites in eleven states with large Asian American populations which have seen election day glitches for Asian American voters in the past.

Problems cited by the group included long lines, delays, and poll-worker confusion over ID requirements, as well as anecdotes of voting rights violations. These problems were also experienced by other voters, but the group argues that the problems hit Asian American voters harder because of language barriers.

The group received hundreds of complaints via its Election Day hot line, said Margaret Fung, AALDEF’s executive director.

The problems reported included:

— Voters who could not find their names on the voter rolls. For instance, at P.S. 250 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, several voters claimed they had voted in previous elections but their names were not on the voter rolls.

— Improper requests for voter ID. At P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, one voter was told to go home to get an ID in order to vote. No interpreters were available to explain why this was needed.

— Racial remarks used against immigrant voters. At P.S. 94 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, two Arab American voters asked a few questions, and after they walked out, AALDEF volunteers heard a poll worker say, “They look like terrorists to me.”

— Violation of voters’ civil rights. In Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, a Chinese American grandmother needed assistance voting and asked her granddaughter to help her cast her ballot. A poll worker prevented her from bringing her family member into the voting booth, in violation of the federal Voting Rights Act.

— Inadequate assistance in Asian languages.

— Broken voting machines.

— Delays and long lines and scarcity of poll workers. In New Orleans, some Vietnamese American voters had to wait two hours to vote at Sarah T. Reed High School in Orleans Parish, while at Mary Queens of Viet Nam Church, voters had to wait almost three hours to vote.


Morning in Harlem: Voices of Immigrant and First-Time Voters in New York

Through Election Day, Feet in 2 Worlds reporter Aswini Anburajan interviewed voters from very different origins. She talked to a Polish first-time voter in Harlem, and then she interviewed two Bangladeshi men and an Argentinean woman in Jackson Heights, Queens. She even had time to make an appearance on PRI’s nationally syndicated show The World.

In the morning, Anburajan talked to Keith Shaka Daway, an immigrant voter from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Daway saw an eventual Obama victory as “a vindication” of his ancestors and the “freedom fighters” of the past. You can read more about him here and you can listen to him speaking on this audio clip:


Another interviewee was Carl Duck, an African American man in his fifties who voted today for the first time in his life. “It’s time to make a change,” he told Anburajan. You can listen to him on this clip:


Tamar Owens and her daughter Oprie, 7, were at the same polling place. “Its exciting to vote for a person that’s real. That’s real by heart by soul,” the mother said of Barack Obama. The kid, as you can hear on this audio interview, was also very enthusiastic: