A roiling discussion is taking place in the Latino community in the aftermath of the upset victory of Donald Trump on November 8, 2016. Spontaneous protests continue in major cities across the country. Pro-immigrant slogans are prominent among protestors signs.
Following is a seven-point action plan that enables our community to overcome new challenges brought about by the incoming united federal government that can be charitably described as xenophobic and exclusionary.
1. Learn the lessons of the campaign: Latin@ voters turned out in record numbers (13 million plus votes cast) and voted at least 71% against Donald Trump. Thanks to Latin@ voters Hillary won Colorado and Nevada but they could have been decisive in other states if given the tools. Clinton would be President-elect today if $10 million more had been invested in Latin@ voter registration, education and GOTV in Arizona and Florida (or about 1% of the Dems collective $1 billion+ campaign budget). These funds would have mobilized enough new Latin@ votes to overcome her margins of defeat in Arizona and Florida.
2. Mobilize in favor of Immigrant rights. This is already happening with a call for mass protests on Jan. 20 from the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. Various Latin@ leaders are convening meetings across the country to strategize and plan. Another such meeting is being planned in Los Angeles on Dec 10 by groups like Hermandad Mexicana, Red Mexicana, Latino Roundtable, NDLON and others. See www.california.latino-congreso.org for more information.
3. Launch an anti "Trump-Wall" federal advocacy campaign that focuses on key Congressional Districts. Spending tens of billions on Trumps Border Wall would be a tragic waste of resources given that the southern border has been secured with close to net zero migration since 2007. Congress has spent $250 billion since 1996 in federal funds to militarize the border with nearly 400 miles in fencing, radar, detectors and nearly 20,000 armed guards! See http://wcvi.org/files/No-More-Border-WallsMexico-August-2016.pdf for more information. Moreover, Trumps Wall would be a disaster for the environment and violate property and indigenous rights. It would be a symbolic Act of War against Mexico and Mexicans.
4. Learn the lessons of the national anti "Marijuana Prohibition" movement. The "movement" has legalized medical marijuana in 28 states (most recently Arkansas, Florida, and North Dakota) and recreational marijuana in 8 states (most recently CA, NV, MA, and ME) even though marijuana is federally prohibited. This state's rights effort has survived intact since 1996. Most Americans now live in states that have legal marijuana. These gains represent a kind of left federalism that hasn't been properly appreciated by social change advocates who are often fixated on DC. This suggests a way forward for immigrant rights advocates: executive or voter-enacted state "DACA/DAPA's" in the seven states that represent 70%+ of the undocumented (CA, AZ, IL, NY, FL, TX, NJ).
5. Reform the Electoral College. Two of the last five Presidential elections have been won by candidates who lost the popular vote...candidates not supported by Latin@s voters. Importantly changing the Electoral Vote does not require a Constitutional Amendment. In fact, half of the work has already been done by Dr. John Koza's National Popular Vote effort. Since 2006 NPV has won enactment of laws in a dozen states representing 165 electoral votes. NPV laws commit a state to awarding its electors to the winner of the national popular vote if states representing 270 electoral votes enact the same law. Another dozen states have passed NPV in at least one house. Reforming the electoral college is within reach in 2017.
6. Build power by expanding voting rights with "State-based Vote Right Acts". In 2001 the California Voting Rights Act (CRVA) was enacted. It is the only state voting rights act in the US. Since then it has been used to generate scores of successful local actions resulting in new electoral systems and scores of new Latin@ local elected officials. Similar legislation should be introduced by state Latino Legislative Caucuses wherever they exist. Growing our political infrastructure based on Latin@ voter majorities electing their candidates of choice historically creates enduring community power that can be used at multiple levels.
7. Hold Washington, DC accountable for its actions in 2018. Everyone is worried about what President-elect Trump will do to minorities, women, and immigrants and others though none of us today know for certain who will be struck first. But we do know that mid-term elections are just two years away. We also know tumult will occur if Trump builds his Border Wall or deports thousands of immigrants or repeals health coverage for millions of Americans or whatever. Therefore, we must assume that 2018 will be an opportunity for rebalancing the power equation in DC. Voters in fact rebalanced power in DC in midterm elections in1982, 1994, 2006, 2010 and 2014.