Both underdogs, former Senator Santorum and the musical cheer section for Southern Mississippi University’s (SMU) Men’s basketball team tried to shake up their respective contests with anti-Latino statements this past week.
Rick Santorum made his gaffe in the territory of Puerto Rico, he was visiting with the hope of winning the islands 20 delegates for the Republican presidential nomination. One of the major issues for Puerto Rico is the decision to become the US’s 51st state. The standard political line, taken by both President Obama and former governor Romney is to support Puerto Rico in whatever decision it makes. The decision is complex, with many fervent supporters for and against statehood, making the sidestep a safe political calculation.
Rick Santorum trails by several hundred delegates in the race for the Republican nomination, leaving him with few options. One available strategy, the high-risk/high-reward is to make bold statements with the goal of dramatically swinging the race. Consider this the hail-mary strategy. On Thursday, Santorum implemented the strategy by setting a precondition for Puerto Rico’s statehood, that English be the principal language. He made a claim that it was a requirement put forth by congress.
At Factcheck.org they looked into the matter and found that there is no rule from congress that requires English to be the principal language. Besides, English is already one of Puerto Ricos’ two official languages. That of course is not the point. Santorum was tapping into that xenophobic conservative vote with the precondition. Some analysts from the Chicago Tribune say that the statement was no gaffe, but a wise choice that will pay dividends when the primaries return to the mainland. Already secure with the social conservative vote, it is perplexing to think that he and his advisors continue to pander to intolerant viewpoints. Yet, they did.
The next day, at a game of the NCAA Men’s March Madness tournament between Kansas State and SMU, a similar strain of xenophobia was displayed. This time, the focus was on a freshman Basketball player from Puerto Rico, Angel Rodriguez. When the 19 year old Boricuan stepped up to the foul line just minutes before the end of the first half, the Southern Mississippi University Pep Band broke into a chant of “Where’s Your Green Card?”, referring to his birthplace outside of the mainland US.
Like Santorum, the SMU Pep Band had their facts wrong. Puerto Rico citizens are US citizens, making resident visas or green cards irrelevant. The students may have been inspired by the Mississippi state house which had just advanced an anti-immigrant bill. The SMU president apologized after the fervor generated from her university’s band.
These are two examples of how prejudice shapes the social environment, denigrating immigrants and their cultures. When comments like these are allowed to pass unchallenged, fear, stress, and diminished self-worth become accepted elements of the US social environment. One positive outcome of the week’s attacks on Puerto Ricans was the backlash it brought: Santorum received only 8% of the vote in Puerto Rico and the SMU Pep Band was publicly rebuked. It may be a sign that the are some limits to outright xenophobia in the United States.
In other news
CAD Walk Update: A resolution of support from the CA State Assembly, Sac Bee, 3.19.12
Six CAD walkers have been recognized for their efforts by the representatives of California. On Monday, the assembly passed a resolution recognizing their efforts with a standing ovation. The walkers will be soon be outside California as they continue their journey to Washington, DC. Unfortunately, one walker, Jose Gonzalez will have to return to San Diego to attend to deportation proceedings that have started against him.
Task force determines mental health care immigrants inadequate, more research needed, Medical Xpress, 3.7.12
Task Chair said ”We have identified an urgent need in scientific research and clinical settings to consider the unique aspects of immigrant populations, particularly with regard to culture and language.”
A review of the recent trends of undocumented youth “coming out,” accompanied by an analysis that concludes that the effort has largely been a success because the actions put human faces on immigration policies. Some youth also reported feeling more protected because they were out in public, and had support of the community around them..