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Gustavo Arellano over at the OC Weekly drew a fascinating conclusion after poring over election night reports from his hotel room in San Francisco Tuesday night.

Arellano correctly notes that for campaigns like sheriff candidate Bill Hunt and gubernatorial hopeful Steve Poizner, the illegal immigration card didn’t seem to translate into that many votes.

Both campaigns, which featured illegal immigration as a central theme, lost handily in Orange County.

During last night’s Voice of OC/KOCE election celebration at the Santa Ana Plaza of the Artists, we held a panel looking at the immigration issue from the viewpoint of Latino activists and elected officials.

We were joined by longtime activists Ruben Martinez of the Libreria Martinez, Amin David of Los Amigos and Alfredo Amezcua who is running for mayor of Santa Ana.

All three agreed that the current rash of Arizona support resolutions going through cities like Costa Mesa, Yorba Linda and Orange are riling the Latino community and bringing many to the political process who otherwise might stay home.

They also agreed that much of the immigration issue is really about the declining economics of the middle class. But all three were absent of the anger often seen from the Minuteman side of the aisle.

For them, the key to communicate to America’s Anglos is that Latinos shouldn’t be feared as their numbers swell and their election victories become more common. In the end, Latinos aren’t that different from the broader community and care about similar issues like family, education, crime and the economy.

Amezcua summed up the sentiment at the end of the panel by noting, “our message is simple: you have nothing to fear. We’ll be much kinder and respectful to you as a minority than you have been to us.”

— NORBERTO SANTANA, JR.

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