Politics & Government

Latinos, big supporters of Obama, expect a lot in return

Barack Obama borrowed more from the immigrant labor movement than just a slogan.

Just as Latinos historically had marched for worker rights to the chants of "Yes, we can," ("Si, se puede"), they organized and stumped by the thousands this year to help elect Obama.

Although they initially leaned more toward Hillary Rodham Clinton, Latinos gave Obama 67 percent of their votes nationwide, increasing their turnout, delivering several key states and gaining clout in the Democratic Party.

They say they earned a seat at Obama's table and plan to remind him that he promised to revive and enact a proposal many favor: a comprehensive immigration overhaul, including a legalization program.

"I'm feeling positive about Obama. I believe him. That's why I worked for him during the election campaign, going to Nevada on weekends," said Raúl Cárdenas, a naturalized U.S. citizen who organizes janitors in Sacramento with Local 1877 of the Service Employees International Union.

Stoked by a surge in new citizens and voter registration drives, Nevada's Latino electorate leaped 87 percent from 2004 levels. With 76 percent of the state's Latino voters choosing Obama, they gave him a decisive edge in a state President George W. Bush won in 2004.

"It's hard to take on immigration in the middle of an economic crisis," said political analyst Bruce Cain, director of the University of California Washington Center. Obama might find he has to wrestle with divisions within his own party over immigration, especially in the House of Representatives.

On the other hand, Cain said, opportunity exists. Some within the Republican Party are urging their brethren to repair relations with Latinos, the fastest-growing voter demographic.

Read the full story at sacbee.com.