Immigrants, Immigration Reform and the 2016 American Presidency.

Happy hispanic  woman posing waving US flags with a US flag in the background
Happy hispanic woman posing waving US flags with a US flag in the background

Donald Trump's racist remark reminds us that the hatred towards immigrants is alive and well in a country that practices integration and acceptance of all. Very few Americans understand the current Hispanic changing demographic trends, its implications, political importance, and their electoral votes. The 2016 Presidential election has slowly but surely developed into a debate on the politics of immigration reform and the courting of Hispanic electoral votes. Whether we admit or not, the Hispanic vote not only became a political weapon in 2012, but in 2016, the Hispanic vote will dictate who will become the future leader of the free world.

The immigration debate has left the United States of America divided along racial, ethnic and political lines, never seen before in our great country. Not only has the debate gone beyond the boundaries of our socio-economic spectrum. The 2013 Immigration Reform bill becomes a stumbling domestic policy for the potential presidential candidates. Very few candidates have addressed immigration reform with any constructive dialogue or solutions, and even those who have addressed immigration have doomed themselves to failure in the eyes of many Hispanics electorates, including presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

Immigration has always been the basic DNA of America and it has taken away the best of who we are and what we can become as a nation. Immigration reform has more implications for America's future than many of us can foresee; not only socially, culturally and economically, but Hispanic political presence, is already shaping and defining a new American political landscape. Whether we admit it or not, many of our immigration laws and the politics behind them have been historically woven with racial prejudice against recent immigrants. Very few Americans remember the historical racism that Mexican immigrants encountered in the early 1900's. The 1929 stock market crash which led to the greatest depression in American history, a time when one out four Americans was unemployed, our economy shattered and confidence in American idealism was tested. As Americans suffered from the economic depression, Mexican immigrants became the scapegoat for America's economic, social, and political problems. As a result, Mexican immigrants were denied jobs, subjected to raids, illegally arrested and detained without due process. As a result of this fear of immigrants, the American government between 1929 to 1939 deported some one to two million Mexican American citizens and legal residents of Mexican descent; this mass deportation was known as the Mexican Repatriation policy with the aim of cleansing America's ill. Fast forward to the 21st century, and the political debacle of the current immigration debate has left the United States of America divided along racial, ethnic and political lines, never seen before in our great country.

The growth of the Hispanic electorate will be an important factor in an increasing number of congressional and presidential races across the country in the 2016 elections and beyond. More numbers mean more votes; the Hispanic electorate now represents swing votes in some 14 states and can increase to 16 states by the presidential election of 2016. This increased population growth along with immigration reform will bring more votes to the table, and how to attract those voters becomes a political chess game for both Democrats and Republicans in future elections. Moreover, how both parties handle the issue of comprehensive immigration reform will have a serious impact on Hispanic political voting behavior in 2016 presidential and future elections.

History reminds us that the mobilization of the Hispanic votes and their response to anti-immigrant polices can be detrimental for a political party. Both political parties must be cautious and reflect on California's Proposition 187, an anti-immigrant policy which outlawed affirmative action and bilingual programs in the early 1990s and its long term effect on the Republican Party that sponsored the legislation. California's political landscape was never the same and became heavily democratic as a result of Proposition 187 anti-immigrant policy directed towards Hispanics. Not only did it mobilize the Hispanic vote in California, it destroyed their relationship with the Republican Party and alienated the party from an important voting bloc for future elections.

Whatever the debates might be, neither political party can afford to ignore or play with the Hispanic vote. Immigration reform is a key tool to courting America's greatest political asset and the future of the American presidency. How and when both political parties address immigration reform remains a struggle; a common-sense ideology on immigration reform by both the Democratic and Republican parties on a sensible solution to the civil rights issue of the 21st century---immigration reform. Failure to do so and to court the Hispanic vote can lead to catastrophic alienation of both political parties and their future in American politics.