We hear a lot about America’s changing demographics and whether the party of xenophobia will have to pay the piper when the freshest fruit of immigration gains prominence in our nation’s summer salad.
I sure hope so. And if one is to believe Ohio’s Voice, the state chapter of America’s Voice, Ohio is “ground zero” for immigration reform due to its position on our country’s northern border and historic importance in national election, according to a report from the Toledo Blade‘s Lauren Lindstrom.
Ohio’s Voice, a pro-immigration advocacy group, released a report last week asserting that the Buckeye State will play a major role in the immigration debate and the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
Lynn Tramonte — director of Ohio’s Voice and the report’s author — calls the state “a microcosm of the national immigration debate,” citing stories in several national media outlets about immigrants in Ohio, including stories about an ongoing federal trial in Toledo in which law enforcement agencies are accused of profiling Latinos.
In a Thursday conference call with reporters, several panelists involved with immigration issues in Ohio offered why they believe the state will play a role in the national debate.
Mark Heller, senior attorney for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality in Toledo, spoke about the trial in which ABLE has accused U.S. Customs and Border Protection of profiling Latinos for stops by agents at the station in Port Clinton.
“Clearly the current system as it’s playing out in Ohio, it’s out of control,” he said, in reference to the lawsuit’s claims that border patrol agents used ethnic slurs and lacked reasonable suspicion and probable cause for stops and searches of Latinos. “We think we have a serious problem.”
The folks over at American Progress recently reported on the changing face of America’s electorate, noting that the “United States is undergoing a historic demographic shift, with people of color expected to be a majority of the population by 2043,” and that, “Similar changes are occurring in the U.S. electorate, albeit at a different rate and driven by different factors. While there are parallels between population changes and electoral shifts, the two do not occur in lock step.”
“In fact, many changes occurring throughout the population are not ever realized within the electorate. For example, there is a large gap between the Latino share of the broader population—those 18 years of age and older—and their share of the electorate. Since many Latinos are not U.S. citizens—a function of our broken immigration system—they account for a larger share of the U.S. population than they do the electorate.”
In Ohio, for instance, the projected 2016 state electorate, according to AP, will be 82.6 percent non-hispanic white, 2.7 percent hispanic, 12.1 percent black, and 1.3 percent Asian. As far as swing states go, Ohio doesn’t stack up to the likes of Colorado and Florida on this particular point, but as HOLA Ohio executive director Veronica Dahlberg notes in the Blade piece, “All indications show the Latino vote will be more important than in 2012 for whoever wants to win the White House.”
And that’s in line with the AP findings that, “By 2016, given the rising share of people of color in the electorate, if Democrats are able to maintain support among voters of color at the same levels they achieved in 2012, then they will more easily win states that were only narrowly won in 2012.”
Given that the Republican Party’s most popular candidate, Donald Trump, is given to unapologetically characterizing those crossing the southern boarder as “rapists and murderers,” one doesn’t see the GOP making friendly inroads here.
Meanwhile, Ohio’s own Attorney General Mike DeWine, who is now endorsing Ohio Gov. John Kasich for the presidency, has joined our state to a lawsuit blocking the implementation of President Obama’s executive order to expand deferred action programs that seek to shield up to 5 million people from deportation.
And while single-issue voters represent the largest block outside of the great silent majority, many of whom don’t bother to vote at all, immigration is not at all the sole issue that concerns hispanic voters, but it is a threshold issue.
People tend to perk up and notice when one of two viable political parties in America takes up demonizing rhetoric to drive a xenophobic wedge in the electorate, pandering to the paranoias of the bigots.
Whenever I’m asked my race on a questionnaire I have a fondness for checking “other,” and writing in, “human.” After all, there is only one race, the human race, and a hundred thousand years of migratory patterns out of the Great Rift Valley of East Africa hasn’t changed that, despite all the fuss.
But technically I am a Caucasian Hispanic descendant of an illegal French-Peruvian immigrant, and having grown up in Ohio, for whatever cred. it gives me, I hold up both long fingers high and proud against the malicious ramblings of Donald Trump and the rest of the Xenophobic Party.
David DeWitt is a writer and man of sport and leisure based out of Athens, Ohio. He has also written for Government Executive online, the National Journal’s Hotline, and The New York Observer’s Politicker.com. He can be found on Twitter @TheRevDeWitt.