Study Finds Latino Toddlers Make Up For Scholastic Shortcomings With Strong Social Skills

Most Latino toddlers start school at least seven months behind when compared to white children. But Latino children enter kindergarten with social skills that rival white peers, despite social-class disparities, according to new research from UC Berkeley and UCLA.

The report recently published in the “Maternal Child Health Journal” found the social competencies between Latinos and whites toddlers are indistinguishable. The researchers caution teachers, pediatricians and other health care providers to “not assume social-emotional delays, even when language or cognitive skills lag somewhat behind.”

The team of researchers looked at how cognitive trajectories widen during the 24-48 month period and how these patterns may differ for Latinos, especially Mexican-Americans.

More on the findings from a press release:

The UC pediatricians and child development specialists tracked a nationwide sample of 4,700 children born in 2001 over a three-year period, when they were between ages 2 and 5 and not yet kindergarteners. Two-thirds of these children were of Mexican descent. Just under one-fifth (19 percent) of them had at least one parent of Latino heritage.

The researchers found startling evidence: Mexican American toddlers between ages 2 and 3 displayed language and cognitive skills about eight months behind those of their white peers, whether assessed in English or Spanish. This gap persisted through ages 4 and 5, with Mexican American children entering kindergarten already behind.

“We found that Latino kids bring to school strong emotional skills and strong social skills, which means they know how to share with their peers. They know how to follow instructions. They know how to listen. And one other thing that we found is that these kids are being raised in very supportive and warm family environments,” Claudia Galindo, a sociologist at the University of Maryland-Baltimore, who helped with the study told NPR.

“We’ve got to move education policymakers away from the assumption that we need to fix these kids, we need to fix the parenting skills, not simply assume that they have weaknesses that need to be tinkered with and corrected,” Bruce Fuller, one of the main authors of the UCLA-UC Berkeley study, told NPR.

The researchers also noted findings from a the 2011 book “The Immigrant Paradox in Children and Adolescents” that found children of Latino and Asian immigrants at times show more healthy social behavior and stronger engagement in school than later-generation offspring.

Obama Meets With Congressional Hispanic Caucus

Obama Meets With Congressional Hispanic Caucus

President Obama met with members Congressional Hispanic Caucus this morning to discuss plans for immigration reform. The meeting comes just days before Obama is expected to give a major speech on immigration reform, launching a hard push to pass and immigration reform law this year.

Leading Congressional Hispanic Caucus members who attended the meeting include Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Representatives Rubén Hinojosa of Texas, Xavier Becerra and Linda Sanchez of California, Luis Gutierrez of Illinois and Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico.

“The President is the quarterback and he will direct the team, call the play, and be pivotal if we succeed,” Rep. Gutierrez said in a statement. “I am very optimistic based on conversations with Republicans in the House and Senate that we will do more than just talk about the immigration issue this year.”

Today’s meeting follows a similar one held last week between the White House and CHC members. Rep. Guiterrez, a leading Congressional prominent of immigration reform and a member of the House Judiciary Committee, confirmed to last week that he met with the White House.

The president appears to be on the brink of a full court press on immigration reform. The Wall Street Journal reported today that Obama will travel to Las Vegas on Tuesday where he will deliver a speech on immigration. Though the president has said reforming immigration law tops his 2013 policy agenda, he has provided few details about a plan. The meeting today and the Tuesday speech may fill in the gaps.

A number of congressional Democrats and Republicans have spent much of the last month preparing a renewed push for comprehensive immigration reform. A bi-partisan group of Senators promised to release a set of guiding principles this month, and Senator Marco Rubio, a leading Republican, has already offered his own vision. Late last year, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus released its own principles.

It’s still not clear whether the opening gambit on immigration law reform will come from the bi-partisan Senate group, from Republican lawmakers like Rubio, or from the White House. Whether reform advocates can garner enough support from House Republicans to pass a bill remains unclear and according to a CHC press release, the president and lawmakers today discussed how to generate bi-partisan support. Hill staffers generally agree that the language for reform package will emerge in March.

Soledad O’Brien Tricks Opponent Of Women In Combat

Soledad O'Brien Tricks Opponent Of Women In Combat

U.S. military leaders on Thursday formally lifted the ban on women serving in combat positions. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said women have already become an “integral part” of the military.

“The fact is that American women are already serving in harm’s way today all over the world and in every branch of our armed forces,” Panetta said in a statement. “Many have made the ultimate sacrifice, and our nation owes them a deep debt of gratitude.”

But opponents say the decision will affect unit cohesion, the same argument that was made when blacks (and more recently, openly gay service members) were integrated in to the military.

CNN host Soledad O’Brien invited Professor Kingsley Browne, author of “Co-Ed Combat” to her show yesterday. As CNN points out, Browne argues that the military will have to lower physical standards to allow women to compete because of the “very little overlap in physical capacity between men and women.”

At one point during the segment O’Brien referenced a quote by an unnamed colonel that opposed integrating blacks and got Browne to support the argument.

Here’s the exchange:

O’BRIEN: I’m going to read a little bit from this colonel who said this: ‘The army is not a sociological laboratory; to be effective it must be organized and trained according to the principles which will ensure success…Experiments are a danger to efficiency, discipline and morale and would result in ultimate defeat.’

BROWNE:* I think that that’s true*. I don’t think it’s true with respect to ultimate defeat of the United States in a war. I think what’s likely to occur though is the defeat of the United States in small battles, which means people are going to die. […]

O’BRIEN: That was from a guy in 1941. And that argument was about not allowing black people in the military. That was his exact argument of why blacks should not be allowed in the military, because it’s a danger to efficiency and discipline and morale and will result in ultimate defeat.

Gun Group Launches ‘What Would Django Do?’ to Rally Black Support

Gun Group Launches 'What Would Django Do?' to Rally Black Support

The group behind Gun Appreciation Day’ is launching a new campaign dubbed “What Would Django Do?” in an effort to woo African-Americans to their side in the debate over gun control, reports the Hollywood Reporter. The campaign would also recruit veterans to teach gun safety to “inner-city youth and engage them in community activities.”

The Hollywood Reporter has more details:

The group is called Political Media, and it’s the same entity that was behind Saturday’s controversial Gun Appreciation Day, which encouraged Americans to show up at various places with a copy of the U.S. Constitution and signs reading, “Hands off my guns.” Larry Ward, president of Political Media, a company that designs websites and organizes ad campaigns for right-of-center organizations, said hundreds of thousands of people participated in Gun Appreciation Day, crowding gun stores and gun shows and demonstrating at various state capitals nationwide.

He’s hoping for similar success with his follow-up effort, dubbed “What Would Django Do?” Ward plans not only a campaign but a nonprofit organization that would bear the name, though he acknowledges he hasn’t sought permission from Tarantino or from The Weinstein Co., the studio behind Django Unchained.

Ward called Gun Appreciation Day a success but it should be noted five people were shot at three different gun shows that day.

Earlier this month the chairman of Ward also went on CNN to argue slavery wouldn’t of happened if slaves had been armed.

First Nation Chief Theresa Spence Hospitalized, Ends Fast

First Nation Chief Theresa Spence Hospitalized, Ends Fast

Attawapiskat First Nation Chief Theresa Spence has announced she will end the fast she began on December 11th 2012 in protest of Canada’s omnibus Bill C-45 that rescinds environmental protections across Canada, including the land base of First Nations.

Aura Bogado update on the has more details:

Spence, who has lost some thirty pounds since making the decision to survive on water, therapeutic tea and fish broth, has been hospitalized. She has been placed on an intravenous drip in preparation to consume solid food for the first time in well over a month. Although Spence was admitted as a precautionary measure, it’s unlikely she will be able to attend today’s news conference, which marks the end of her principled action and the announcement of the declaration of commitment. Spence’s spokesperson, Danny Metatawabin, has made clear that the end of the hunger strike doesn’t mark the end of her fight.

“Chief Theresa Spence and Elder Raymond Robinson have agreed to end their hunger strikes based on the commitments outlined and endorsed in a Declaration of Commitment supported by the Assembly of First Nations National Executive Committee, Native Women’s Association of Canada, NDP National Caucus and Liberal Party of Canada Parliamentary Caucus,” said the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) in a statement on Thursday.

Chief Spence is expected to remain hospitalized until later today or Friday, Bogado reported at The Nation.

Penn State Professor Compares Voter ID Laws to KKK Tactics

Penn State Professor Compares Voter ID Laws to KKK Tactics

A media studies professor at Pennsylvania State University compared the GOP push for more voter ID laws to methods employed by the Klu Klux Klan (KKK) to suppress people of color from voting. His lesson plan has caused some uproar on conservative blogs but Professor Matt Jordan still stands by his lesson plan.

Earlier this month Professor Jordan presented scenes from the 1915 film “The Birth of a Nation” to his class that showed armed Klansmens intimidating black voters into not voting. Jordan then went on to show video clips of recent voter ID law news coverage to illustrate both tactics were used to disenfranchise certain groups of voters.

Victor Schleich, a student in Jordan’s class who objected to the lesson plan, published an e-mail he wrote to the professor on the Young America’s Foundation’s (YAF) New Guard blog. Schleich’s email to Jordan is below:

On Jan 10, 2013, at 2:59 PM, Victor Schleich wrote: There was something at the end of class today that greatly concerned me. Towards the end of class we were going over the film THE BIRTH OF A NATION. The final shot we saw was a scene where a number of the KKK members were scaring black men back into their homes signifying voter suppression. I had no problem displaying that scene with the proper context that it was incredibly racist and that the content was unacceptable. However, as class was ending there was footage on the screen of news coverage concerning the issue of voter ID laws and commentary suggesting that these laws were new minority voter suppression. John Stewart even made references that these were the new horsemen of intimidation when it came to minorities voting. Now, in the context of the film we had discussed I can’t help but see this display as an attempt to equate a voter ID law to actions taken by the KKK. If this was the intention of that footage then this is is incredibly offensive. However, I hope this is simply a misunderstanding.

Jordan’s response unapologetic response was also posted on the blog:

On Jan 10, 2013, at 3:12 PM, Matt Jordan wrote: Victor I was - indeed - trying to elicit moral comparisons with this juxtaposition, given that the KKK was behind voter suppression in the 1880s and 1920s, by splicing that clip in there. I am sorry that you find that offensive, but I find disenfranchizing [sic] minority and elderly voters based on specious arguments about voter fraud (which multiple studies have shown to be trumped up and, indeed, many of the architects of these laws have all but admitted were purely designed to suppress the vote) equally offensive in a country predicated on one person, one vote. I don’t think I equated them, but I certainly want you all to think about it. I am sorry that you find this work of challenging you all to think offensive. Matt Jordan Associate Professor Dept. of Film/Video and Media Studies College of Communications Penn State University

Houston Waiter Stands Up For Special Needs Child [Video]

Houston Waiter Stands Up For Special Needs Child [Video]

Michael Garcia is a waiter at Laurenzo’s Restaurant in Houston, Texas. We’re celebrating him today for taking a stand and standing up with 5-year-old Milo Castillo and his parents.

Older Asian American Women Have Highest Suicide Rate

Older Asian American Women Have Highest Suicide Rate

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Asian American women ages 65 and older had a higher suicide rate - 6.5 per 100,000 - than any other racial or ethnic group between 2004 and 2007. White women had the next highest suicide rate: 4.3 per 100,000.

Below are some key findings from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Office of Minority Health:

Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for Asian Americans, and also was the 10th leading cause of death for White Americans, in 2009.

Older Asian American women have the highest suicide rate of all women over age 65 in the United States.

Southeast Asian refugees are at risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) associated with trauma experienced before and after immigration to the U.S. One study found that 70% of Southeast Asian refugees receiving mental health care were diagnosed with PTSD.

For Asian Americans, the rate of serious psychological distress increases with lower levels of income, as it does in most other ethnic populations.

The overall suicide rate for Asian Americans is half that of the White population.

Studies have found Asian-Americans experience financial, physical and communication barriers to accessing health care. But some subgroups also face social stigma.

“Traditionally, in Chinese culture, if you have a mental health problem, you tend to try to deal with it yourself or within your family,” Joyce Chu, an assistant clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University, explained to the San Francisco Chronicle. “If someone has a serious mental illness like schizophrenia or bipolar (disorder), that family member is not talked about or kind of hidden.”

A 2008 CDC analysis looked at different Asian-American populations facing serious psychological distress:

Oakland Hires Former LAPD Chief Who Says Cities Without ‘Stop-and-Frisk’ Are Doomed

Oakland Hires Former LAPD Chief Who Says Cities Without 'Stop-and-Frisk' Are Doomed

Early Wednesday morning, the Oakland City Council approved a $250k consulting contract with a team that includes former Los Angeles Police Department chief William Bratton. Mayor Jean Quan proposed hiring Bratton to develop a public safety plan and the City Council supported her, voting 7-1 to hire the former LAPD chief.

Bratton, who also served as the New York City Police Commissioner and Boston Police Commissioner, is known for his unapologetic support of ‘stop-and-frisk’ laws.

The San Francisco Chronicle interviewed Councilwoman Desley Brooks who was the lone “no” vote against hiring the consulting team:

Brooks, who cast the lone “no” vote, said Bratton would have little accountability under the $250,000 contract, and would be obligated to set foot in the city only three times over six months. She also said his overwhelmingly white consultant team didn’t reflect Oakland’s diversity.

“I am deeply concerned that we are feeding into the politics of fear and playing on people’s emotions on crime,” Brooks said. “It makes it seem like if we don’t pass this contract tonight that nothing gets done

Critics worry Bratton will suggest a ‘stop-and-frisk’ policy that could lead to racial profiling.

“Bratton is the father of suppression policing,” Oakland resident Jay Donahue told the Oakland Tribune. “He destroys black and brown communities.”

Last year the NYPD released ‘stop-and-frisk’ statistics to the City Council that revealed that out of 685,724 stop-and-frisk stops, 87% percent of those stopped in 2011 were black or Latino. The stats also showed nine out of ten persons stopped were not arrested, nor did they receive summonses.

An NYCLU analysis showed that black and Latino males between the ages of 14 and 24 accounted for 41.6 percent of stops in 2011, though they make up only 4.7 percent of the city’s population.

Bratton is an unapologetic supporter of ‘stop-and-frisk’ policies.

“I’m sorry, but any police department in America that tries to function without some form of ‘stop-and-frisk,’ or whatever terminology they use, is doomed to failure. It’s that simple,” Bratton told San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX earlier this month.

Bratton told CBS 5 he also has a consulting contract in Detroit and a proposal to consult police in Baltimore, which recently hired former Oakland Police Chief Anthony Batts to lead the force.

Professional Lip Reader Says He Knows Why The First Lady Rolled Her Eyes at Boehner

Professional Lip Reader Says He Knows Why The First Lady Rolled Her Eyes at Boehner

Leave it to the investigative reporters at “Inside Edition” to hire a professional lip reader to make out just what was said before the First Lady rolled her eyes and delivered a bit of shade to John Boehner.

Inside Edition has the details:

So what was said? We asked expert lip reader Larry Wenig. Wenig believes John Boehner is asking President Obama whether he had a chance to have a cigarette before the luncheon.

President Obama gave up cigarettes three years ago. Boehner is a known chain smoker.

Our lip reader, Wenig, caught Boehner saying, “Somebody won’t let you do it”, referring to Michelle, which prompted the first lady’s big eye roll.

The Hill reached out to Boehner’s camp, which has rejected Wenig’s reading of the brief conversation, calling it “not true.”

The UK’s DailyMail also reached out to three different lip-reading experts but none of them could confidently make out the words.

Laurene Powell, Steve Jobs’ Widow, Launches DREAM Act Website

Laurene Powell, Steve Jobs' Widow, Launches DREAM Act Website

Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, has teamed up with documentary filmmaker Davis Guggenheim to launch a website and film that urges congress to pass immigration reform for young immigrants. The website,, collects videos of undocumented immigrants describing how their lives would change for the better should the Dream Act pass.

“Tell your story, send in a picture, sign the petition and become a part of a living, breathing call to action that Congress can’t ignore. Story by story, voice by voice we will make it happen,” reads the main page on

Yahoo News’ “The Lookout” blog describes the project:

To push for passage of the provisions in the Dream Act, Cendy and others agreed to share their stories on, a website launched Tuesday by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (“Waiting for Superman” and “An Inconvenient Truth” ) and philanthropist Laurene Powell Jobs, the widow of Apple founder Steve Jobs.

The project allows young undocumented immigrants to submit videos describing how their lives would change if the Dream Act were passed. Others can also submit posts, including teachers, relatives and friends of the young immigrants, as well as those involved in developing policy around immigration. The videos will be posted on the website, and Guggenheim will compile them into a documentary film.

“The documentary becomes a living, breathing petition,” Guggenheim told Yahoo News. “These DREAMers are putting everything on the line. When they come out like this, they are saying, ‘I’m ready to risk it all for what I believe.’”

“There needed to be a demystification—to put a face to these people, to hear the individual stories,” Powell Jobs told Yahoo News. “They’re our children’s friends. They are people we know. This is a huge national problem that needs resolution.”

Powell Jobs told Yahoo News that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s recent immigration reform proposals for young immigrants seemed “reasonable and principled,” but that she wanted to learn more. “The key is to see the legislation once it’s written,” she said.

It should be noted Rubio’s earlier proposal to legalize DREAMers did not include a path to citizenship.

I’m Barack Obama and I Approve These Bangs

I'm Barack Obama and I Approve These Bangs

“I love Michelle Obama,” the president said at the start of brief remarks at a candlelight reception at the National Building Museum on Sunday. “And to address the most significant event of this weekend: I love her bangs.”

TAGS: Inauguration

Study Finds 90% Jump in ADHD Diagnosis Amongst Black Girls

A new study of health records from California found the rate of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) rose dramatically between 2001 and 2010. The study found white children from high-income homes are most likely to be diagnosed with ADHD but it also found a spike in new diagnosis amongst black girls.

The Kaiser Permanente study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found there was a 90 percent increase in the diagnosis of ADHD among non-Hispanic black girls during the same nine-year period.

More details from the study are cited below:

The study examined the electronic health records of nearly 850,000 ethnically diverse children, aged 5 to 11 years, who received care at Kaiser Permanente Southern California between 2001 and 2010. It found that among these children, 4.9 percent, or 39,200, had a diagnosis of ADHD, with white and black children more likely to be diagnosed with the neurobehavioral disorder than Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islander children. For instance, in 2010, 5.6 percent of white children in the study had an ADHD diagnosis; 4.1 percent of blacks; 2.5 percent of Hispanics; and 1.2 percent of Asian/Pacific Islanders.

The study also examined increases in the rates of first-time ADHD diagnosis. Researchers found that the incidence of newly diagnosed ADHD cases rose from 2.5 percent in 2001 to 3.1 percent in 2010 — a relative increase of 24 percent. Black children showed the greatest increase in ADHD incidence, from 2.6 percent of all black children 5 to 11 years of age in 2001 to 4.1 percent in 2010, a 70 percent relative increase. Rates among Hispanic children showed a 60 percent relative increase, from 1.7 percent in 2001 to 2.5 percent in 2010. White children showed a 30 percent relative increase, from 4.7 percent in 2001 to 5.6 percent in 2010, while rates for Asian/Pacific Islander children and other racial groups remained unchanged over time.

“While the reasons for increasing ADHD rates are not well understood, contributing factors may include heightened awareness of ADHD among parents and physicians, which could have led to increased screening and treatment,” said study lead author Darios Getahun , MD, PhD, from Kaiser Permanente Southern California’s Department of Research & Evaluation.. “This variability may indicate the need for different allocation of resources for ADHD prevention programs, and may point to new risk factors or inequalities in care.”

It’s important to note this study only analyzed Kaiser Permenante patients.

“I’m concerned that this paper will raise concerns that are not justified,” Benjamin Lahey, a psychologist at the University of Chicago told USA Today. Lahey was on a scientific panel in the 1990s that helped develop the current definition of ADHD and questions the study’s methods and validity.

“It certainly should not lead to the conclusion that there’s an increase in the prevalence of ADHD in the United States,” Lahey said.

Bidding War at Sundance for Oscar Grant Film

Bidding War at Sundance for Oscar Grant Film

The Weinstein Company is wrapping up a deal to acquire “Fruitvale,” a drama based film based on Oscar Grant’s last days. Grant’s murder made national headlines in January 2009 after cell phone video surfaced showing a BART police officer shooting him while he was laying on the ground.

The film was written and directed by 26 year-old USC grad Ryan Coogler and stars Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Tristan Wilds and Melonie Diaz. The film was produced by Forest Whitaker.

Variety reports on the Sundance deal:

The Weinstein Company is wrapping up a deal to acquire “Fruitvale,” a drama based on a tragic true story that was written and directed by 26 year-old USC grad Ryan Coogler.

Deal is worth between $2 million and $3 million and guarantees a sizable theatrical release, according to sources familiar with the negotiations.

Shadow & Act has more details on who was bidding:

And what distribution companies are in the mix? The biggies, like The Weinstein Company, Fox Searchlight, with Paramount Pictures and Focus Features.

In fact, word from Deadline is that buyers are calling it this year’s Precious or Beast Of The Southern Wild, as in the little indie film that goes on to capture audiences and critical acclaim, as it travels throughout the year.

Sasha Obama: ‘Good Job, Dad. You Didn’t Mess Up’ This Time

Sasha Obama: 'Good Job, Dad. You Didn't Mess Up' This Time

After reciting the official oath of office on Sunday, Obama was first congratulated by the Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., who said “Congratulations, Mr. President.”

The President went on to hug the First Lady and Malia Obama but it was the youngest daughter Sasha who followed up with her own version of a congratulatory note.

After giving Dad a “Good job!” she added a reminder of his flubbed words four years ago. “You didn’t mess up,” Sasha went on to say, teasing the commander in chief.

Cornel West Explains Why it Bothers Him Obama Took Oath Using MLK’s Bible

Cornel West Explains Why it Bothers Him Obama Took Oath Using MLK's Bible

At a “Poverty in America” forum held last week, Princeton professor Cornel West said he was “upset” after learning that President Barack Obama would be sworn in using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Bible.

“When I got the news that my dear brother Barack Obama—President Obama—was going to put his precious hands on Martin Luther King’s Bible I got upset,” West said.

Full Text of President Obama’s Second Inaugural Address

Full Text of President Obama's Second Inaugural Address

THE PRESIDENT: Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a President we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they’ve never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth. (Applause.) The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

And for more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce, schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Asian-American Voters Really, Really Loved Barack Obama in Election 2012

Asian-American Voters Really, Really Loved Barack Obama in Election 2012

One of the 2012 election surprises was the impressive support President Obama got from Asian-American voters—despite being widely ignored by both parties. A widely circulated CNN exit poll pegged Asian American support for Obama in 2012 at 72 percent. But new poll numbers suggest Asian American support for Obama is even stronger than that, and likely just as misunderstood.

Seventy-seven percent of Asian Americans voted for Obama in 2012, according to new findings released by the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund on Thursday. AALDEF conducted a multilingual exit poll on Election Day in 14 states. But in the biggest surprise, a whopping 96 percent of Bangladeshi voters backed Obama, according to AALDEF. That number is higher even than the 93 percent of black voters who voted for Obama in this election. Ninety-one percent of Pakistani voters voted for Obama, as did 84 percent of Asian Indian voters, 81 percent of Chinese, 78 percent of Korean and 65 percent of Filipino voters.

But Obama didn’t get so much love from all Asian groups. More than half of Vietnamese voters—54 percent—backed Republican candidate Mitt Romney, still less than the nearly 60 percent of white voters who voted for Romney. But the Vietnamese community, not unlike Cuban-Americans in the Latino community, tend to vote more conservatively than other Asian Americans.

“Asian Americans are a diverse community with varying social, political, and economic backgrounds,” said AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung. What’s more, understanding Asian Americans is of particular relevance to the country. While they’re but 4 percent of the U.S. population, Asian Americans are the fastest-growing racial group in the country.

Majority of Voters of Every Race Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Majority of Voters of Every Race Support Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The overwhelming majority of 2012 voters strongly support the passage of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. According to a new bi-partisan poll released today, voters across racial, geographic and, perhaps most significantly, partisan lines, want Congress to pass an immigration bill.

The poll asked just over 1000 recent voters to weigh in on an immigration reform bill this year and 73 percent of respondents said they support a path to citizenship. Just one in five respondents said they undocumented immigrants should be forced to leave the country.

The poll adds new weight to a push for immigration reform that’s already gained significant momentum in Washington and sends a message to wary Republicans that their constituents support action. In the past, many conservatives on the fence about immigration have decided not to support reform because of fears that they could put off primary voters. Advocates said today that the poll—conducted by Democratic Hart Research Associates and Republican Public Opinion Strategies—would help put these fears to rest.

The poll shows broad support for “rational immigration policy that serves the interests of every American and their family…. Reform that ensures our security and respects the rule of law,” said Jeb Bush Jr., the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sr., and a board member for National Immigration Forum, which co-sponsored today’s press conference along with SEIU and America’s Voice.

Over half of those polled said they would be more likely to vote for a Congressperson who supported immigration from. Only 8 percent said an elected official’s support for immigration reform would drive them to vote against a candidate.

“We have firmly believed that fixing the broken immigration system is not just a Latino or immigration priority but in fact it is a priority for the American people,” said Eliseo Medina, secretary-treasurer at the Service Employees International Union. “The poll tests that theory…. I am absolutely amazed by the level of bi-partisan support.”

For most of the last decade, many Republicans have demanded that before adding their support to an immigration bill, the government must first bolster border and interior immigration enforcement. Poll respondents pushed back against this two step approach, saying clearly that they support immigration reform that creates a path to citizenship along side changes in enforcement practices. Half of Republican respondents said a path citizenship should be coupled with immigration enforcement in the same bill.

Most respondents said that an immigration reform package that creates a path to citizenship should require that undocumented immigrants pay taxes owed and that employers should be forced to check immigration status of those they hire. Two thirds of respondents also said an immigration reform bill should prevent employers from lowering wages by hiring workers. Over half of respondents said immigration policy should reunify separated families.

In the past, Republican lawmakers have proposed reforms that provide a route to residency that does not end in citizenship. But only a third of those polled said they would prioritize an immigration bill without a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Washington lawmakers from left to right have promised immigration reform this year, and the president reiterated in recent weeks that the issue is at the top of his agenda. But adviocates are nonetheless clear that there remains work to be done.

“We will continue to build support throughout the country and keep reaching out to all sectors of society,” Medina said. “We believe the time is now, and we look forward to getting it done.”

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Joins the GOP Retreat on Voting Rights

Florida Gov. Rick Scott Joins the GOP Retreat on Voting Rights

The Voting Wars across America seem lately to be two steps forward, one step back. In Florida, where long lines, blocked voters, robocalls with misinformation and elderly voters denied water reinforced the state’s electoral notoriety last November, Gov. Rick Scott appears to have seen the light. Earlier this week he endorsed a number of electoral reforms, most notably expanding early voting, including the Sunday before Election Day.

In 2011, Scott signed into law HB 1355, which was engineered by a Republican lobbyist and passed purely by Republican state legislators that shrank the early voting period from 14 days to 8 and stripped away the Sunday before Election Day, which was the day that black churches banded together for “Souls to the Polls” to increase voter turnout. I reported on the ugly results of that during election season.

“We are encouraged Gov. Scott is finally joining Mi Familia Vota, Florida New Majority, Florida Immigrant Coalition, Advancement Project and many others in advocating for the expansion of early voting and early voting sites,” said Judith Browne-Dianis, co-director of the civil rights nonprofit Advancement Project. “Gov. Scott’s actions today are an important step but more work remains. While the governor has taken a step forward, his actions are a floor and not a ceiling for the work that must be done to guarantee full access to the franchise and truly restore democracy in Florida.”

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