Take Two for November 20, 2012

Pilar Marrero on how the anti-immigration movement is 'Killing The American Dream'

Pilar Marrero's book "Killing The American Dream."

Pilar Marrero's book "Killing The American Dream."

One thing is clear after President Barack Obama's electoral victory earlier this month, Latinos have become key to winning elections. That means that for both parties, immigration remains a crucial issue. 

We speak with Pilar Marrero, a senior political writer for La Opinion and author of the new book, "Killing the American Dream, How Anti-Immigration Extremists are Destroying the Nation."

Interview Highlights:

On how immigration has become purely a political issue:
"They have made real immigration reform impossible for about 20 years now, because immigration has turned into a purely political and opportunist issue for many politician and we haven;t looked at the real interest for the country this whole time. We have put together a series of policies that do nothing to advance the interest not just of immigrants but the economic future of this country. Politics is something that needs to be involved, but when its the only thing that's actually happening it brings bad policy…it became about using the issue to win elections, to move ahead for certain politicians. There have been some politicians that moved from being a mayor of a small town to being in Congress using the immigration issue."

On how immigrants benefit American society:
"The conventional wisdom that these extremists use is that immigrants are bad for Americans because they take jobs…but the research actually does not support this. There is plenty of research out there that show that immigrants create jobs and allow the companies to be more productive and there are many many things that immigrants are giving to America that is actually very positive."

On how America's policies and law have been hostile to immigrants:
"I don't think America is hostile to newcomers, what I said was in the last 18 years, policy and the law has been hostile. All throughout our history immigrants have had to overcome difficulties and work really hard at really bad jobs, but never before in our history of our nation, with the exception of maybe the Chinese exclusion laws, we have had immigrants that for so long have been kept from integrating and kept from society in legal terms. All these immigrants who have been here for 15 or 20 years without papers. Many of them have businesses, sons and daughters, many of them have homes, they're an integral part of our economy, but we don't want them to be legal because we have some idea that they're bad for the country."

On how the Romney Campaign was viewed by Latinos:
"The Romney Campaign had very little interest in reaching Latinos. We were never able to get an interview with Romney and many other outlets were never able to do it even though it was common for us to interview Republican candidates in other elections."

On how Republicans can reach the Latino immigrant voter base:
"It's a matter of tone, it's a matter of inclusion, it's a matter of having the party talk to different communities. They can keep their conservative principles, they don't have to move left, there are plenty of Latinos who are conservative in different ways…what they don't vote for is a party who doesn't want to talk to them or talks about immigrants as if they are expendable, as if they are evil."

On the issues most important to Latino immigrants:
"All issues are important to Latinos, the same as to the rest of the country, but of course ... the economy, the ability to have a job. Immigrants are very focused on this because if you're an immigrant and you come to this country, it's because you think there's an opportunity to move ahead and have a better job and a better career and a better future. Education is a huge issue for Latinos, it used to be the number one issue for Latinos before the recession."

On whether the American Dream will survive:
"The American Dream will never die because there's somebody somewhere thinking about that dream. But if we close the border and say no more immigrants like some people are arguing, that would actually hurt America economically and that would actually hurt the American Dream and I think we need to be aware of that."

Killing the American Dream; How Anti-Immigration Extremists are Destroying the Nation


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