African-American and Latino voter turnout during the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections hit record numbers. Polls show that the immigration debate influenced Latino voter turnout and preference. Presidential candidate Barack Obama's voiced support of comprehensive immigration reform strengthened his lead among Latino voters in 2008 and, once in office, his executive policy of granting temporary protection to DREAMers solidified his lead among Latino voters in 2012. Both elections showed the power that minority groups can exert when they vote in support of the candidate. If the demographic changes continue as currently estimated, African Americans and Latinos will contribute in large part to the making of the United States into a "majority-minority" nation and will play an increasingly important role in local and national politics. Therefore, it is important for Americans to become more inclusive of all minority groups and to expand discussions of race relations beyond the Black-White paradigm and discussions about immigration beyond the Latino-White paradigm. As the polarized reactions to the Zimmerman verdict showed, there is much work to be done as the people of the United States continue the project of forming "a more perfect Union.” Honest assessments of how individuals and groups interact are crucial to opening borders and encouraging exchanges beyond socially constructed boundaries, like race, and racialized politics. African Americans and Latinos often compete with each other for political representation and other resources. In addition, the political consideration of immigration law and policy includes a racial dimension that is often camouflaged, but denial and silence about this reality do nothing to move the country forward. Therefore, immigration provides an opportunity to examine race relations and the potential for inter-group coalitions between African Americans and Latinos. For this reason, this Article also explores, through the lens of immigration, the role that race may play in the attitudes of African Americans and Latinos toward each other. One of the goals of this Article is to spark a candid dialogue that promotes a better understanding of race and its impact on interactions between African Americans and Latinos in the United States.
Reyes, Maritza I., Opening Borders: African Americans and Latinos through the Lens of Immigration, 17 Harv. Latino L. Rev. 1 (2014)