I’m one Latino who’s not voting for Sen. Hillary Clinton.
The Clinton campaign reached a new low in the California primary when Hillary Clinton tried to blame African-American unemployment on immigrants.
She said in a debate that “an African-American man said to me, ‘I used to have a lot of construction jobs, and now it just seems like the only people who get them anymore are people who are here without documentation.’ ”
This remark – aimed at scapegoating Latinos for African-American unemployment – is part and parcel of her divisive campaign. Clinton’s campaign appears to also be considering similar means to turn Latinos against African-Americans. Recently, her campaign pollster was asking Latinos if they would be willing to vote for an African-American president – a question that is most likely an attempt to see if her campaign could find Latino prejudice to use against Sen. Barack Obama.
Clinton’s California effort to turn African-Americans against Latinos not only smacks of racism, it shows a poor grasp of economics. While Clinton claims that immigrants are pushing natives out of jobs, she ignores well-researched findings to the contrary. For example, the Pew Hispanic Center has found that “no consistent pattern emerges to show that native-born workers suffered or benefited from increased numbers of foreign born workers.”
How can it be that immigrants have little effect on jobs? It’s because immigrants have two effects on the job market. On the one hand, they add competition in the labor market. On the other hand, they also help expand the labor market by their added purchases of local goods and services. So, in the end, the added business they bring to localities largely offsets the pressure they put on wages.
If Clinton wants to help Americans find decent-paying jobs, then she ought to start by looking at U.S. policies that really undermine our job market. For example, she could do something about policies that have promoted the export of good jobs for decades. A prime target could be the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) championed by her husband when she was first lady. According to the Economic Policy Institute, NAFTA has cost the United States more than a million jobs that would otherwise have been created here and has pushed down wages for a large number of workers with less than a college education.
Hillary Clinton should also consider the government policies undermining unions. The federal government has allowed employers to make it increasingly difficult for workers to negotiate for decent wages and working conditions; we need federal laws that give workers a fair chance to obtain representation they need to make these gains.
If Hillary Clinton wants my vote, she should focus on the real problems facing our job market, and not scapegoat Latinos.
Ramon Castellblanch is associate professor of health education at San Francisco State University. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.