Read the Fine Print

COMMENTARY Immigration

Read the Fine Print

Dec 18th, 2007 2 min read

Spokesperson, The LIBRE Initiative

Israel Ortega is a former contributor for The Foundry.

With the joyous holiday season upon us, it's easy to get wrapped up into writing a long wish list. But Santa's not the only one eager to grant wishes this year. A slew of politicians are vying to be our next President, and in a recent Univision debate, they were looking to pick up votes in the Hispanic community. But before we take the candidates' word as gold, we would do well to read the fine print.

Not surprisingly, immigration is often seen as the one issue political pundits are convinced will influence Hispanic voters in choosing a candidate. And yet, as tempting as it may be to focus on just immigration, we should listen carefully on how the candidates plan to address other pressing issues critical to the Hispanic community.

For example, what is their plan in bridging the educational gap between Hispanics and their peers? Will they plan on keeping taxes low for the millions of Hispanic-business owners? And how will they protect our families from radical Islam?

On education, here's a hard pill to swallow: Half of all Hispanic children in our public schools cannot read or write English. Even more troubling: According to the 2007 National Assessment of Educational Progress, roughly 50 percent of Hispanic 4th gradeers scored "below basic" in reading exams.

For the left, the answer is simple: spend more money. Unfortunately, it isn't that simple. Despite the billions the federal government spends on education, too many of our public schools are failing to provide a quality education for our nation's next generation.

Turning our attention to another issue that easily allows politicians to make lofty promises: According to the Census Bureau, Hispanics have the highest uninsured rates, with nearly 1 out of every 3 Hispanics lacking basic health insurance. Here again, the differences between the left and the right become acutely pronounced. The liberal solution is to create universal healthcare to fill this void. For many on the Left, the government, and not the individual, is best suited to decide which healthcare plan works best for families.

Worse yet, the government would surely be forced to raise taxes in order to pay for these expensive programs. As New Yorkers living in one of the highest taxed cities in the nation, we should continue to be aware that high taxes are harmful to the economy as a whole.

Clearly, policy decisions are taking place every day in Washington, D.C. that will impact the lives of Americans -- including Hispanic-Americans. Consequently, it is vital that Hispanics see past the rhetoric and discern for themselves which issues matter the most to them and who offers the best solution.

Voters must demand answers to the toughest questions facing our country. Unfortunately, with all the attention aimed at immigration, politicians are getting a free pass to avoid other issues of paramount interest to the Hispanic community. When writing our wish list, let's be sure to ask about issues beyond immigration.

Israel Ortega is a Senior Media Services Associate at the Heritage Foundation.

First appeared in El Diario