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19 Jul, 2010 08:11

Obama losing Latino votes over absent immigration reform - journalist

With tough immigration laws being adopted in America, the US Latino population is calling for new reforms, claiming immigrants can bring benefits to the country and Obama must start carrying out his promises.

President Barack Obama promised several times that he would make sure the comprehensive immigration reform would pass within the first year of his presidency – but it has not.

Many Latinos voted for Barack Obama exactly for that reason – the promise of immigration reform, points out journalist and human rights activist Jorge Ramos.

“Nobody forced President Barack Obama say anything – but he did,” the journalist says, noting that 18 months have passed and there is still no sign of the reform.

Both candidates, Obama and McCain, made similar promises during the primaries so the blame for forgotten immigrant reform lays equally on the Democrats and the Republicans, Ramos believes.

“The reality is that immigrants pay taxes and create jobs. They do not take jobs from Americans. They simply take the jobs that Americans do not want,” Ramos says. “Americans do not go to farms to pick tomatoes.”

Immigrants are needed in the US because there is going to be such a large group of Americans, the baby-boomers, retiring and immigrants will be needed to fill the consequent labor shortage, the journalist claims.

“There is a lot of misinformation on the contribution of immigrants to this country,” insists Ramos. “Unfortunately, with the economic crisis we are facing right now, immigrants have been blamed for anything that goes wrong with this country, from crime to unemployment.”

Having returned from South Africa recently, Ramos says that unlike this country that has made great progress in combating the legacy of apartheid, the US, particularly the state of Arizona, is moving in the opposite direction.

All in all the problem of illegal immigration is not political, but economical. Young, energetic Mexicans will keep coming to the US because Mexico not only lacks about one million jobs a year but, even if jobs and wages in Mexico were equal to those in America – young Mexicans would still prefer to try their chances in the US, Ramos says.

“Every single country has the right to protect its borders,” he admits but adds that “a fence on the border simply does not work because almost half of all undocumented immigrants who come to the US come by plane.”

“There will be no immigration reform unless the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are already here are taken care of,” the journalist insists.

There are three things that need to be done to solve the aching immigration problem says Ramos.

“[First] we need to legalize the 11 million undocumented immigrants who are here. Number two – there has to be a system that assimilates new immigrants coming in from the south and other countries. Number three – a long-term solution has to be achieved with a lot of investment in Latin America, otherwise they will keep on coming for decades.”

If Barack Obama does not pass the immigration reform by the next election – there will be a backlash among Hispanic voters, Ramos predicts.

“Latinos are really Republicans, it’s just they do not know it,” Ramos concludes. “Many Latinos are very conservative. Hispanic values are very similar to Republican values.”