"The Latino giant is wide awake, cranky, and is taking names. We are now a part of history and the political future of this country."
That's Eliseo Medina, the Service Employees International Union secretary-treasurer, a longtime advocate of immigration reform. He may be sleep-deprived after a long night of election returns, but he has a right to be cranky. He went out on a limb in 2007 when the Senate was debating immigration legislation that President Bush created. SEIU endorsed a plan that included guest workers, a taboo in the labor movement. The AFL-CIO was furious. The immigration bill died anyway because Republicans walked away at the last minute.
Medina's comment on Wednesday, after President Obama won a second term and Hispanics turned out in droves to help him, shows an aggressiveness that was not evident in 2007 when Bush was on their side. Hispanic voters want their worries about immigration to be shared by everyone else, and they aren't being shy about saying so.
"The road to the White House goes through Hispanic neighborhoods," said Clarissa Martinez, the director of civic engagement and immigration for the National Council of La Raza. "Latinos are pragmatic. We are prepared to roll up our sleeves and solve problems. "¦ Immigration has risen to the No. 2 spot and stayed there for the last couple of years."