I've been asked by several people about my lack of commentary on the on-going immigration controversy and demonstrations. I reiterate that the focus of Latino Lingo is about how to effectively market to Hispanics, not about addressing all issues affecting our communities.
With that said, it is appropriate to address and highlight the call for a Hispanic economic boycott on May 1. The boycott calls for Latinos to not attend work, not purchase any product or service, and keep their kids home from school.
From a strictly marketing perspective, the May 1 date does present an interesting opportunity to show the economic power Hispanic have in the U.S., now estimated at more than $700 billion. However, with many companies now actively seeking to not only seek Hispanic purchasers but also to employ Hispanics, it is an effort that could also backfire and lead to more resentment.
In my dialogues with people, the point I try to make clear is that while everyone talks about the 11 million or so illegal Mexicans in the U.S., that is only the tip of the iceberg on the total illegal population in the U.S. In essence, if you're proposing to build huge walls across the Mexican border to curb illegal immigration, then you also should do the same for the Canadian border. And perhaps build one around JFK airport and other places where illegals from other countries make their entrance to the U.S. That's where I feel the real security threat comes from. After all, if you were Al-Queda, would you want to treck across the deserts for days to try to get into this country or simply walk in through the lovely state of Maine?
The biggest strategic mistake being made in the pro-immigration stance, in my opinion, is that the immigration debate has manifested itself into almost exclusively an illegal Mexican issue. Not an illegal alien issue. Mexicans are not the only illegals here. However, nearly all the debate has to do with Mexican illegals. I think protest organizers realized their mistake and the backlash it caused because later protests seemed to have more U.S. flags waving, and we began to see other minority group representation. This was too little too late as still nearly all the the video footage the media shows is usually of large crowds waving Mexican flags. These images have only added to anti-Mexican sentiment across the U.S., and not positively contributed to an actual debate and/or dialogue about existing and/or proposed immigration laws.
I've gone on and on in my postings how today more and more companies "get it" when it comes to having to outreach to us Latinos. My fear is that when all is said and done, the May 1 boycott may do little more than add to this pervasive and growing resentment against Hispanics, especially in non-border states.
If this was a true boycott about immigration issues and laws, it should have included more calls from pro-immigration groups of all minority groups, not just Hispanics, and specifically Mexicans.