You knew it would happen. Despite Obama picking a Latina for the Supreme Court, there are some in the Latino community that just aren’t as happy as they wanted to be. Why? She’s the wrong kind of Latina – that is, she’s Puerto Rican, not Mexican.
Many Latinos are elated that Obama has nominated a Hispanic, and they relate to her story of success from humble beginnings.
But some would have preferred to see Obama nominate a Mexican-American considering that they make up 70 percent of the nation’s 47 million Latinos.
“The argument could be made for (a Mexican-American nominee),” said Raul Yzaguirre, former head of the National Council of La Raza, one of the nation’s largest Hispanic civil-rights organization. He is now presidential professor of community development and civil rights at Arizona State University. “I want unity, so I am more inclined to overlook those things and say, ‘Let’s work together.’ “
Though Puerto Ricans and Mexicans share a common language, Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and are not considered immigrants like Mexicans, said Louis DeSipio, a political-science and Chicano/Latino studies professor at the University of California-Irvine.
As a result, Sotomayor could be less sensitive to immigration issues she may face as a Supreme Court justice than if she were Mexican-American, DeSipio said.
Luz Sarmina, president and CEO of Valle del Sol, a non-profit community-based Latino organization in Phoenix, said that she was thrilled with the choice of a Hispanic but admits that she would have liked to have seen Obama nominate a Mexican-American.
“I’m thrilled having a Latina, but I also think there are many Mexican-Americans well-qualified for that role. I don’t want to pit one group against the other, but I think I would have been thrilled to see a Mexican-American.”
In the name of unity, Yzaguirre will “overlook” the snub. DeSipio thinks Sotomayor will be “less sensitive to immigration issues” because she isn’t of Mexican descent.
Watch for this issue to get some more legs as Sotomayor’s record starts getting exposed. What Mexican-Americans will learn is that she really isn’t much like them.