News & Politics

Does He Have a Point? Latino Mayoral Candidate Compares Undocumented Immigrants to Slaves

NYC Democratic candidate Erik Salgado just got your attention.

In news that is sure to make you go "wait, who is this?" quiet candidate Rev. Erik Salgado, who is running for New York City mayor as a Democrat, and who has, until now, been relatively unknown and unseen in the race, has likened the plight of undocumented immigrants to slaves in a debate on Wednesday night.

"I want to be remembered as a mayor who fought for all the inhabitants of New York City, especially for those who are basically enslaved in this modern kind of slavery," Salgado said when asked what kind of legacy he would leave behind as mayor. "I believe that slavery is not abolished…it has been transferred to my people."

Salgado's parents hail from Puerto Rico, and he is the only Latino candidate running for mayor in an election that includes Black, lesbian and Taiwanese candidates. When pressed to defend the analogy to the Huffington Post, Salgado said he sees the comparison as "fair."

"If your study history, slavery is all about the economic advantage of one group to the other," he explained. "Slavery in North America was transferred from the native Indians to the African Americans, and now it's passed to this new generation of what they call alien."

Salgado's comments echo the current political climate's heated debate on immigration reform, and the way in which it is creating a seismic shift in the culture's view of American policy. Though Salgado's comments are button-pushing, they are not likely to push the conversation much farther, as the poll finds him picking up only 2% support from registered voters. Still, the statement has reverberated with many voters for whom immigration reform is a matter of justice and decency. 

Rod Bastanmehr is a freelance writer in New York City. Follow him on Twitter @rodb.