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Photo: MEG KINNARD / AP
Photo: MEG KINNARD / AP

Biden’s pitch to Mexican-American voters

The former Vice President has a history of policy positions that could prove divisive with voters in the Mexican-American and Latinx community.

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There are many reasons why American politicians highlight the powerful relationship between the United States and Mexico.

Aside from being our southern neighbor, Mexico is the U.S.’s second largest global trading partner. 

Of the U.S. Hispanic population, which is nearly 60 million people, Mexicans make up over 60% of the total. Therefore, Mexican holidays, songs and food have gone on to form part of American culture. 

Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, must take into consideration Mexican-American issues if he is to unseat Donald Trump and win the White House. 

The latest polls might make the Biden campaign realize this even more. 

According to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll from June 26, only 59% percent of Latinx people would vote for Biden over Trump. That is 7 points down from the 66% Latinx support that Hillary Clinton received in 2016.

Mexican-American and Latinx voters will be a significant part of the electorate in swing states like Arizona, Texas, and North Carolina. These states will be crucial for Biden if he plans to have anything beyond a Rust Belt strategy.  

His campaign is centered around going back to the days of the Obama administration, where he served as vice president, but what does this mean going forward for Mexican-Americans?

Policies he has pushed and their effects on Mexican-Americans in this country lead many to believe that it will be difficult for him to stir enthusiasm among the crucial voting group. 

NAFTA Numbers

In 1993, when Biden was a Senator from Delaware, he voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act. 

NAFTA was supposed to bring rapid economic development to Mexico, but instead according to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mexico’s economy and per capita income grew at smaller rates than that of other Latin American nations.

The New York Times also reported that, “as heavily subsidized U.S. corn and other staples poured into Mexico, producer prices dropped and small farmers found themselves unable to make a living. Some two million farmers have been forced to leave their farms since NAFTA '' 

Many of those farmers had no choice but to immigrate to the United States, leaving the business they once owned and maybe even their family behind.

Not a wall, but still a fence

One of President Trump’s signature campaign promises is the building of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, but in 2006, Joe Biden voted for the Secure Fence Act and even said “unlike most Democrats I voted for 700 miles of fence.” 

At a primary debate last year, Jorge Ramos asked Biden a question in regards to his fence statement and in his answer, he talked about unrelated subjects like Obama’s legacy and the Violence Against Women Act. 

He later tried to draw a distinction between Obama and Trump on immigration by saying, “We didn’t lock people up in cages, we didn’t separate families.” 

The Hill later reported that these actions also occurred during the Obama Administration and that they too, built those cages.

According to data from the Department of Homeland Security, the Obama administration deported more than three million people, which is more than any other presidency. 

Biden has shown he does not like to be confronted on the issue.

Immigration activist Carlos Rojas asked the former vice president about his deportation record at a campaign event in Greenwood, S.C. last year

After Rojas pressured Biden to commit to a moratorium on deportations if elected, Biden told the immigration activist: “You should vote for Trump.”

He falls short on immigration reform as his campaign website says, “Dreamers and their parents should have a roadmap to citizenship through legislative immigration reform. But in the meantime, Biden will remove the uncertainty for Dreamers by reinstating the DACA program, and he will explore all legal options to protect their families…”

In that statement, Biden’s campaign is not saying how he would protect the parents of Dreamers, which is worrying because these children have fought to study or work safely in the only country they know and should not have to still fear losing their parents to deportation. 

His immigration reform leaves out many families, as he makes no mention of reintroducing DAPA, which would go further than DACA because not only does it protect the parents of Dreamers, but also undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens.
According to the American Immigration Council, 4.1 million U.S. citizen children live with at least one parent who is undocumented.

Healthcare is a priority

Health care is also a top issue for most Americans, and a 2020 study from Pew Research found that 71% of Latinx people believe the federal government is responsible for ensuring all Americans have health coverage.

A plurality of the Latinx community in the study said they favor a national health insurance system. According to his website, Biden’s public option will leave 3% of Americans uninsured. 

The Medicare For All proposal promised to cover every American and undocumented immigrants. 

On top of this, Lancet magazine released a study that concluded, “a single-payer, universal health-care system is likely to lead to a 13% savings in national health-care expenditure, equivalent to more than US$450 billion annually.” 

Biden did not listen to Latinx voters on the issue.

A consolation running mate?

Biden has also affirmed that he will choose a female running mate. Outlets have listed New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham as a potential pick, but a Latina corporate Democrat vice president is not the consolation prize Latinx voters deserve. 

No matter what Biden commits to now, there is decades of evidence of him enacting poor judgement on matters affecting the Mexican-American community. 

The Democratic party should not expect the Latinx vote to be a given as their vote has to be earned the same way it is for everyone else. Mexican-Americans are not looking to play into identity politics, but simply to be heard and get by.

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