Evolution of Bernie Sanders’ Relationship with Minorities

Posted: January 12, 2016 | By: Kelsea Graham Tagged: Blog


Bernie Sanders answers questions at the Brown & Black Forum. Photo by Skylar Borchardt

Bernie Sanders answers questions at the Brown & Black Forum. Photo by Skylar Borchardt.

Before the new year, if you were to ask me who I think would win the Democratic nomination for the 2016 presidential election, I would undoubtedly tell you Hillary Clinton. I even thought, based on her strong support from Planned Parenthood and female voters, that she would win the Iowa caucus. Probably much to Clinton’s surprise, Bernie Sanders is on the radar as the potential Democratic nominee. Clinton leads a thin 48 percent to 45 percent lead against Sanders in Iowa. So, why and how is Sanders climbing the polls? Sanders recently developed an immigration platform that minorities are likely to support.

Sanders’ immigration policy agenda is based off the idea that America is a nation of immigrants. These immigrants come to America to work hard and provide a better future for their families–for generations to come. Sanders’ agenda includes allowing immigrants to purchase health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, protecting border communities, and reforming the visa system. The candidate also presses hard on returning “unjustly deported immigrants” to unify broken families.

Since the Obama Administration’s orders to deport and detain U.S. illegal immigrants at the beginning of the year, Sanders has made his stance very clear on immigration. He has addressed this in forums throughout Des Moines, and even addressed the president in a letter. Sanders focused in on the idea that deportation raids break up families.

His evolving relationship with the minority vote may have an influence on these tight poll numbers. Latinos make up to 5.6 percent of Iowa’s population. According to The Guardian, Latinos are Iowa’s largest minority. Sanders is vying for the vote, going so far as to having a roundtable discussion in Muscatine, Iowa with over 20 Hispanic community members. He’s gone to minority-focused events all over Des Moines this past weekend, including the Brown and Black Forum and the Putting Families First Forum–where he raised his first in the air and stated, “Black lives matter.” All of these same-day stops show Sanders is pressing hard on immigration reform.

“I do not agree with him on his policy toward deportation,” Sanders said at the Putting Families First Forum that took place in Des Moines on January 9, 2016. A large audience representing minorities, including the Latino community, cheered and stood at Sanders’ remark.

Drake student Niha Majeed attended that Black and Brown Forum. “I want to hear what he has to say about dealing with ISIS and immigration and that’s why I’m here at this event,” Majeed said before the event started. “I haven’t heard much about what Hillary is going to do about ISIS and immigration–that’s a big deal going on right now.” Majeed said she will caucus for Sanders.
How these minority voters in Iowa feel about Sanders will influence his clout throughout the rest of the election. If this demographic participates in the Iowa caucus, they could set a precedent for the media as well as other minority voters across the States.

Samantha Ohlson, Megan Johns, Skylar Borchardt, and Mackenzie Allison all contributed to this article.