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California Candidates Scapegoat Immigrants, Ignore Blacks

 New America Media, News Analysis, Elena Shore

On June 8, California voters go to the polls for the primaries, and San Francisco embarks on the Secure Communities program, in which fingerprints collected at local jails are shared with immigration authorities. Both events are getting flak from Spanish-language media.

The GOP gubernatorial candidate’s race is getting “nasty,” according to an editorial last week in La Opinión, as Meg Whitman and Steve Poizner essentially compete to see who is more anti-immigrant. 

“Demagoguery and bigotry have replaced reason,” the editorial argues. Editors of 
La Opinión write that they are “deeply upset” that the Republican race has been characterized by what they see as “the debasement of political debate and malice toward the undocumented,” and they call on voters not to forget how ugly things have gotten when they go to the polls in November.

Things don’t look much better on the Democratic side. Jerry Brown may have been sitting back while Whitman and Poizner went at each other, but Brown’s support of Secure Communities – and his rejection of San Francisco Sheriff Mike Hennessey’s attempt to opt out of the controversial program – has made him a lead story on Univision Channel 14 and landed him on the front page of San Francisco’s Spanish-language weekly 
El Mensajero.

The name "Secure Communities" sounds like it's about safe neighborhoods, but it’s really about deporting people, writes Juan Gonzalez in his column Pelando el Ojo in the June 2 edition of bilingual biweekly newspaper El Tecolote.

The program uses digital fingerprints to check the immigration history of everyone booked at local jails. It is already operating in 17 California counties, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Solano and Sonoma.

Brown supports the program, and in his gubernatorial campaign has said he opposes sanctuary cities and driver's licenses for undocumented immigrants. In short, as El Mensajero managing editor María Mejía put it in an editorial last week, “The sign, ladies and gentlemen, is very clear: in times of political campaigns, no one wants to be seen as being very friendly to the undocumented.”

Meanwhile, as the undocumented have become the scapegoats in this campaign, black voters have been downright ignored, according to the Sacramento Observer, which published an article in its online edition titled “
Candidates Are Ignoring Blacks.”

The Sacramento Observer reviewed African-American media over the past several months and reports that it did not find “any messages sensitive to the targeted audience.”

“The fact that the campaigns have spent millions and millions of dollars in traditional media and ignored ethnic media is another significant indication that they do not have a message for these communities,” the Sacramento Observer writes. “Or, they have no strategy or desire to address the acute issues affecting these communities.”

Scapegoating one community and ignoring another might both have the same outcome -- low voter turnout in tomorrow's primary.



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