Immigration has been catapulted to the front lines of the presidential race in recent months, thanks to a groundswell of grassroots organizing, mass mobilization by a charismatic movement of undocumented youth, and high profile media coverage of some of the immigrant rights movement’s most dramatic struggles (not to mention its ugliest opponents). Add to that the changing complexion of the electorate, with the expansion of Latinos as a major voting bloc, culture wars over politically conscious public education, and the nationwide right-wing backlash that has spawned critical civil rights debates over fair elections and voter suppression.
Here are some dispatches from the pre-election political fray. Though the election may influence the dialogue or the prospects for certain policies, these issues will continue to burn long after November 6, no matter who gets elected.
CultureStriker Jeff Biggers, a longtime chronicler of Arizona politics and author of State Out of the Union, blogs about the browning of the American electorate in ground zero of the immigration battle:
When 20-year Phoenix resident and businesswoman Maria Maqueada turned in her emergency ballot today at the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, thanks to the assertive efforts of Citizens for a Better Arizona, one more vote was cast in what observers are already calling a record Latino vote in Arizona.
Whether such a grassroots surge in the Latino vote will be able to overcome out-of-state contributions and Republican hijinks, including the latest report today on misleading robocalls to Arizona Democrats on polling stations by Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake, a determined network of Latino and community groups galvanized by citizens fed up with Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s notorious reign and the state’s SB 1070 “papers, please” immigration policy has already shifted the political landscape in tomorrow’s election — and beyond.