Moyers: The Rise of Hispanic America
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And the United States has to take responsibility with the fact that there are people being killed in Mexico in part because there are so many people here using drugs. And what's amazes me is that this is not an issue for Romney or for President Barack Obama even though President Barack Obama has spent, I think, $31 billion in drug programs and prevention, which is a huge amount of money. We have to take responsibility in this country for all the people being killed in Mexico and in Central America.
BILL MOYERS: So, from each of you, quickly, what are the priority issues, as you see them, in the Hispanic community for this election?
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: Jobs and economy is the number one issue, and Latinos, all polls show that. But immigration, like we said, is the issue that moves the Latino vote--
BILL MOYERS: What's the unemployment--
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: that inspires them to vote.
BILL MOYERS: What's the unemployment rate?
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: The unemployment rate among Latinos right now is, 10.2 percent.
BILL MOYERS: Higher than--
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: It's much higher--
BILL MOYERS: --except for blacks.
JORGE RAMOS: It's been above, 11 percent during the, Obama's presidency. But for Latinos, the symbolic issue is immigration. For us, it's personal. It's not like an abstract issue. It’s personal. Either we are immigrants, or we know someone who's an immigrant, or we work with someone who, or our neighbor is an immigrant. It's not abstract. It's very personal.
BILL MOYERS: Why do so many Anglos seem to resent Hispanic immigrants more than they do others?
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: I think that there's a couple of things there. I think that there's a certain feel of, because there's the growing, a community that's growing so fast, there's sort of like a threat that our way of life is going to change. And I don't think that they see immigrants as part of America.
And you know, the funny thing is the majority of Hispanic, well, all of Hispanic voters are U.S. citizens of course, and why do they care about this immigration issue so much when there's a minority really that are undocumented? It's because it affects us as a community, it affects the image of Latinos as a community. It has spilled over where you're perceived, where you can't tell the difference between who's legal and who isn't legal--
JORGE RAMOS: But it's the numbers--
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: --I mean, I--
JORGE RAMOS: --there’s a demographic revolution--
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: There's so many, right.
JORGE RAMOS: --it's a demographic revolutions. We're, when I got here, I don't know, 25, 30 years ago there were only 15 million Latinos--
MARÍA ELENA SALINAS: Yeah, in the early '80s there were 14 million Latinos.
JORGE RAMOS: Exactly. Right now we're talking about 50, truly I think we're talking about 60 million. And we are changing the face of America. It's not black and white anymore. We're changing the way we eat. I say this a lot, but people eat more tortillas than bagels and more salsa than ketchup. We're changing the way people dance in this country, the way people speak. Even an accept like mine now has sort of been accepted. And we're changing the way people vote. And no one can make it the White House now without the Hispanic vote, that's completely new.
BILL MOYERS: Here's what some conservatives tell me. Conservatives embrace law and order, conceptually, and they say we're talking about enforcing the law and if the law isn't enforced the society cannot hold itself cohesively together.