Letter No. 30: Immigration reform now! (36101)

A new study released last week revealed some facts that a blind man could have seen coming. By a ratio of more than two-to-one, 59 percent to 27 percent, the Pew Hispanic Center found that Latinos disapprove of the way the Obama administration is handling deportations of unauthorized immigrants.

Surprised? Not at all! After all, with a president who has broken his promise to immigrant voters and with a record number of immigrants, especially Latinos, deported or now part of the federal justice system because of immigration woes, it’s not surprising that folks are offended.

Deportations have reached record levels under President Barack Obama, rising to an annual average of nearly 400,000 since 2009, about 30 percent higher than the annual average during the second term of President George W. Bush’s administration and about double the annual average during Bush’s first term. And worst of all, Latinos accounted for 97 of all deportees from 2010. This coming from a Democratic administration led by a president with immigrant roots!

These factors have led to a very high disapproval rating of Obama’s policies, especially among those who are aware that deportations have risen during his tenure. Among this group, according to the 2011 National Survey of Latinos from the Pew Hispanic Center, 77 percent disapprove of the way his administration is handling the issue of deportations. Among those who are not aware that an increase has occurred, slightly more than half still disapprove.

The president would do well to listen and ramp up his support of comprehensive immigration reform if he really wants to win a second term this year-and win back the large base of immigrant voters who helped elect him.

However, there is still a silver lining to this dark, disapproving cloud. The Pew Hispanic survey also found, heading into the 2012 presidential campaign, that Obama and the Democratic Party continue to enjoy strong support from Latino registered voters. This despite his broken promises and ramped-up deportation efforts!

The study’s authors found that in a hypothetical matchup against former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Obama wins 68 to 23 percent among Latino registered voters. And in a matchup against Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Obama wins the Latino vote 69 to 23 percent. These results closely match the outcome of the 2008 presidential election, when Obama carried the Latino vote over Republican Sen. John McCain 67 to 31 percent.

Even among those who disapprove of the way Obama is handling the issue of deportations, a majority support his reelection over either of these two potential Republican challengers. Obama would carry this group 57 to 34 percent against Romney and 61 to 31 percent against Perry.

This shows that immigrant voters get the fact that despite Obama’s failed promises and high deportation levels, choosing the right wingers would be a very bad idea, and the bet still needs to stay on the donkey, not the elephant.

It’s a good sign, but now the president has to show he cares and not take this bloc of voters for granted. If he does, most may simply stay at home and refuse to vote, a move that will definitely not augur well for Obama. He needs to step up his game now with months to go before the November election, or the consequences will be dire!

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.