Transcript: September 21, 2012

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: THE NUMBERS MAKE IT IRREFUTABLE – WE’RE LIVING THE LARGEST DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE IN HISTORY.

WE ASKED SOCIAL TREND TRACKER GUY GARCIA TO HELP US MAKE SENSE OF THE LATEST CENSUS NUMBERS. GUY IS AN EXPERT ON “THE NEW AMERICAN MAINSTREAM.”

GUY GARCIA: The New mainstream is the combination of great demographic changes, explosions in the populations of African Americans, Asians and Latinos — even to a certain extent women, young people, LGBT’s. A hundred and ten million African Americans, Asians, and Hispanics. With buying power that exceeds two trillion dollars. Today already, one in three Americans are multicultural… When you look at the population under 18, it’s already closer to a one to one ratio.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: AS THE DEMOGRAPHICS CHANGE, SO DOES OUR ELECTORAL MAP – ESPECIALLY AS THE SHARE OF WHITE VOTERS CONTINUES TO SHRINK.

GUY GARCIA: We saw it in 2008 with the election of basically a new mainstream president. Who voted for Barack Obama? Young people. It was educated whites. And of course it was so called minorities, people of color.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: BY 2042 DEMOGRAPHERS PROJECT THAT WE’LL BE A MULTICULTURAL MAJORITY NATION.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Should white America be afraid of becoming a minority?

GUY GARCIA: They should only be afraid of becoming a minority if it’s within the old definition of what a minority means: marginalized, left out, disenfranchised. The new mainstream is inclusive; everybody is welcome to the new mainstream.

America has always been redefining itself. The unfinished pyramid that the founding fathers constructed, the idea behind it was that America was a republic that would only be completed by the people who came after.

MARIA HINOJOSA: It used to be that this idea of the new America was happening in urban places, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago.

GUY GARCIA: It’s everywhere. In fact, most of the steepest growth of multicultural populations in the 2010 census, were places like Arkansas, Iowa, Georgia….

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: AND IN GEORGIA AND THE REST OF SOUTH THIS CHANGE IS HAPPENING FASTER THAN ANY OTHER PART OF THE COUNTRY. OVER THE LAST 10 YEARS IT’S THE SOUTH THAT HAD THE GREATEST INCREASE IN MULTICULTURAL GROWTH. THIS NEW MULTICULTURAL AMERICA IS NOT WHAT’S NEXT. IT’S NOW.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: WELCOME TO THE NEW AMERICAN SOUTH… WHERE THESE NUMBERS LIVE AND BREATHE.

IN CLARKSTON, GEORGIA WHITES BECAME THE MINORITY BY 1990… AND NOW IT’S HOME TO REFUGEES FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD.

I CAME HERE BECAUSE THIS CITY IS A LABORATORY FOR THE FUTURE OF AMERICA… I WANTED TO SEE WHAT DEMOCRACY MEANS TO SOME OF THE NEWEST AMERICANS IN THIS ELECTION YEAR.

MARIA HINOJOSA: It’s really exciting to be here with all these babies being born. And they’re all so different… from so many different countries. It’s pretty incredible…

MARIA HINOJOSA: Congratulations! So what’s the name of the new baby?

KOP: The new baby um, Benjamin, Benjamin.

TIMOTHY: Benjamin.

THUN: Yeah, Benjamin.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: BABY BENJAMIN NGO THUN IS A BRAND NEW AMERICAN. HIS PARENTS FLED THE REPRESSION OF A BURMESE MILITARY JUNTA AND MOVED TO CLARKSTON THREE YEARS AGO. TODAY THEY CELEBRATE ANOTHER CHILD BORN INTO FREEDOM.

MARIA: What do you dream about Benjamin’s future as an American?

KOP: President.

MARIA: You want him to be President. Is that your idea or your idea?

KOP: I think he.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Why do you want Benjamin to be President of the United States?

THUN: Think that this is the democratic country. Everybody can rise up President.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: NAMED AFTER ONE OF AMERICA’S FOUNDING FATHERS, BENJAMIN IS A BRIDGE FROM A PERSECUTED PAST TO A WIDE OPEN FUTURE.

IN THIS ELLIS ISLAND OF THE SOUTH, COULD THERE BE LESSONS FOR A DIVIDED NATION ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND GETTING ALONG?

DIANNE LEONETTI: We’re sisters, you know, we were separated at birth.

AMINA: Yes.

DIANNE LEONETTI: Yeah. We tell everybody.

AMINA: Yeah.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: CLARKSTON, IS JUST OUTSIDE OF ATLANTA GEORGIA AND WAS HAND-PICKED BY REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT AGENCIES BECAUSE IT HAD CHEAP HOUSING, AND PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION TO NEARBY JOBS.

SINCE THE EARLY EIGHTIES, THOUSANDS OF REFUGEES FROM VIETNAM AND SOMALIA, IRAQ AND BHUTAN AND SOME 40 OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE COME TO THIS AREA TO ESCAPE WAR, PERSECUTION AND MASSACRE.

MARIA HINOJOSA: What is this here?

AMINA OSMAN: This is a knife wound. When the bullet finished, they slaughtered the kids?

MARIA HINOJOSA: These were your children?

AMINA: Yeah.

DIANNE LEONETTI: She’s got a bullet in her hip too.

AMINA OSMAN: I have a bullet… and another knife wound here.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Another knife wound here too. And you were left for dead?

AMINA OSMAN: Yes, I was. I was in the mortuary. They was going to bury me.

MARIA HINOJOSA: You were in the mortuary?

AMINA OSMAN: Yeah, two days.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Two days, ready to be buried?

AMINA OSMAN: They wanted to put in the white cloth… they felt here that it was beating…

MARIA HINOJOSA: And they felt the pulse?

AMINA OSMAN: Yes.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: LIKE AMINA OSMAN, WHO CAME FROM SOMALIA, MANY REFUGEES IN CLARKSTON ARE RECOVERING FROM THE TRAUMA OF DISPLACEMENT AND WAR, AND THEY’RE STRUGGLING WITH A NEW LANGUAGE IN A STRANGE PLACE.

THEY’RE WELCOMED TO THIS COUNTRY WITH SOME GOVERNMENT ASSISTANCE, BUT SOON ARE EXPECTED TO PROVIDE FOR THEMSELVES.

IT’S A BIG CHANGE FOR THE CLARKSTON NATIVES TOO.

IN LESS THAN THREE DECADES, THIS CITY OF JUST OVER A MILE SQUARE, HAS GONE FROM BEING 97% AMERICAN BORN TO MORE THAN A THIRD FOREIGN BORN.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Somebody told me, “Yeah, Clarkston, we’re the dumping ground.”

DIANNE LEONETTI: It puts a lot of stress on a city. It puts a lot of stress on people in the city on our infrastructure, our police. It’s huge problems.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: CLARKSTON, GEORGIA HAS FACED ITS SHARE OF CHANGE BEFORE. FIRST HOME TO THE CHEROKEE, IT WAS LATER SETTLED BY POOR FARMERS OF BRITISH DESCENT. AND FOR MOST OF ITS HISTORY, CLARKSTON WAS OVERWHELMINGLY WHITE.

MARIA HINOJOSA: There was a sense before that someone like you, a black man from the North, represented serious change in a place like Clarkston.

EMANUEL RANSOM: Yes, definitely.

MARIA HINOJOSA: You were unwelcome.

EMANUEL RANSOM: I don’t fault anybody for their prejudice. People are trained to be prejudiced…

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: EMANUEL RANSOM GREW UP IN THE SUBURBS OF PHILADELPHIA AND MOVED TO CLARKSTON GEORGIA IN 1963 – THE YEAR MARTIN LUTHER KING MARCHED ON WASHINGTON.

EMANUEL RANSOM: When I first came to Clarkston, the Ku Klux Klan used to march in front of my house right down here off of uh, Ponce de Leon.

The black neighborhood used to be across the tracks there.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Was the City Council all white men?

EMANUEL RANSOM: Yes.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Was the Mayor a white man?

EMANUEL RANSOM: Yes.

MARIA HINOJOSA: And did you feel like you were excluded?

EMANUEL RANSOM: Yes.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: CLARKSTON IS NESTLED IN THE SHADOW OF STONE MOUNTAIN, GEORGIA … KNOWN AT THE TIME FOR KU KLUX KLAN CROSS BURNINGS… THE SIDE OF THE MOUNTAIN IS STILL CARVED WITH THE BUSTS OF THE FATHERS OF THE CONFEDERACY.

GRAHAM THOMAS: When um, I was a kid, my daddy used to take me out to Stone Mountain and we watched the Ku Klux Klan. And they would take an old car up on top of the mountain and set it on fire, and push it off the front of the mountain. And everybody’d scream and holler. You talking about exciting!

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: GRAHAM THOMAS GREW UP IN NEARBY DECATUR GEORGIA AND MOVED TO CLARKSTON IN THE 1980’S.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Your dad took you to see Ku Klux Klan rallies?

GRAHAM THOMAS: Oh yeah. He was not a Ku Klux Klanner, he was from New Jersey matter of fact. He was as we call down here “a Yankee.”

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: A SEISMIC SHIFT BEGAN IN THE 1980’S. CLARKSTON WENT FROM BEING 90% WHITE… TO MAJORITY BLACK. NOW — THIS CITY OF 7500 IS LESS THAN 14% WHITE. STONE MOUNTAIN IS A THEME PARK. AND EMANUEL RANSOM IS CLARKSTON’S FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN MAYOR…

MARIA HINOJOSA: What does it mean for you to be in a place like Stone Mountain now?

MAYOR RANSOM: Well it means that times change.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: FOR MAYOR EMANUEL RANSOM, CHANGE HAS BEEN A GOOD THING.

FOR HIS FRIEND GRAHAM THOMAS, A JULLIARD-TRAINED MUSICIAN, MAYBE NOT SO MUCH…

MARIA HINOJOSA: Have you ever thought that in your town here in Clarkston, that you and your wife, your family are now the minority?

GRAHAM THOMAS: Oh certainly. Here we are the minority.

MARIA HINOJOSA: And what does that feel like for you, a white man, from the South?

GRAHAM THOMAS: Uh – yeah – yeah an old Southern boy. You wonder sometimes um, if I’ve got any buddies anymore, like you know, that think the way I do.

Graham plays saxophone…

GRAHAM THOMAS: That’s enough isn’t it?

MARIA HINOJOSA: THE CONVERGENCE OF THE OLD AND NEW SOUTH HAS NEVER BEEN SMOOTH. IT WAS NO EXCEPTION WHEN THE REFUGEES STARTED ARRIVING IN CLARKSTON.

GRAHAM THOMAS: It’s just destroyed the way of life so to speak. There’ll be a young girl pushing a baby carriage with two babies in it, and she’s pregnant again. And who’s supporting that? We are. They dump ‘em, in these apartments, sometime and don’t tell ‘em, how to light the stove. They build a fire in the middle of the floor, and burn the apartments, or they’ll drink out of the commode. They need to be taught the American way, so that they don’t goof up.

MARIA HINOJOSA: I’ve heard this a couple of times now, that the refugees build fires in their living rooms to cook, has anybody actually seen that?

GRAHAM THOMAS: Uh, no, that’s just hearsay.

MARIA HINOJOSA: You said that you’ve heard that they drink water out of toilets.

GRAHAM THOMAS: Yeah. I don’t know if that’s a fact. I’m just hearing it from the people that say it. I’m probably a – a racist or a redneck or something, I don’t know, but I just see it destroying what we had planned to happen here.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: IN ONE OF THOSE ODD TWISTS OF FATE, GRAHAM THOMAS DOES HAVE AT LEAST ONE THING IN COMMON WITH THE REFUGEE ARRIVALS. HE ALSO CAME TO CLARKSTON TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF LOW-PRICED REAL ESTATE. HE BOUGHT AND RENOVATED THREE HOUSES, HOPING THEY WOULD BE HIS NEST EGG.

GRAHAM THOMAS: I shouldn’t gripe about all this – ‘cause it’s helping somebody, but my little nest egg here, so to speak, seems to be in jeopardy.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: WHILE GRAHAM THOMAS LAMENTS THE PLUMMETING PROPERTY VALUES … THE NEW AMERICANS I MET ARE BUSY BUILDING BUSINESSES AND PUTTING DOWN ROOTS.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Hijab?

OMAR SHEKHEY: Hijab. Islamic dress. These stores are mainly owned by Somalians…

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: OMAR SHEKHEY IS THE PRESIDENT OF THE SOMALI AMERICAN COMMUNITY CENTER. THE SOMALIS STARTED ARRIVING IN CLARKSTON IN THE 1990’S AND NOW THEY MAKE UP THE LARGEST GROUP OF REFUGEES HERE.

OMAR SHEKHEY: So and this is also chemise. This is for men.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: OMAR HELPS NEWLY ARRIVED SOMALIS TRANSITION INTO LIFE IN THE U.S…

OMAR SHEKEY: Here’s a hair salon, owned by a Somali woman called Yasmeen… This man also runs our website…he’s also Somali…

MARIA HINOJOSA: It’s like being in little Somalia.

OMAR SHEKEY: When you come here you already have hope that if you cannot make it here, you cannot make it anywhere else.

OMAR SHEKEY: An accountant – his name is Ahmed, we are trying for him to run for mayor.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Do you ever have any other Americans who come here?

OMAR SHEKEY: Yes a lot of black Americans.

MARIA HINOJOSA: What about white Americans? Do you ever see them here?

OMAR SHEKEY: Very limited.

MARIA HINOJOSA: What do you think about that?

OMAR SHEKEY: It’s… when you talk to them – they always say it’s ethnic, so…

The people who are in the political power, they just believe the immigrants are here to take, drain the resources of the county, they’re not looking the other side, that we work hard, we are buying foreclosed homes, we are revitalizing the economy of this county.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: REFUGEES DO OWN ABOUT 85% OF CLARKSTON’S BUSINESSES NOW, BUT CLARKSTON’S ECONOMY IS STRUGGLING. UNEMPLOYMENT IS MORE THAN TWICE THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, AND A QUARTER OF CLARKTSON’S RESIDENTS LIVE BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL. BUT IT SEEMS TO ME THAT DEMOCRACY IS THRIVING AMONG THESE NEW AMERICANS.

OMAR SHEKEY: We educate people. And we tell them the rights that the Constitution is giving them…

MARIA HINOJOSA: Most Americans are not spending their days talking about the Constitution…

OMAR SHEKEY: Because they are comfortable with their daily life. For them it’s a routine thing.

MARIA HINOJOSA: But for you.

OMAR SHEKEY: But for us it’s important.

MARIA HINOJOSA: The Constitution is alive.

OMAR SHEKEY: The Constitution is alive. Our survival depends on the constitution.

OMAR SHEKEY: Everybody’s voice is important to this debate. Not the one percent. Not the conservative. Everybody.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: AT CLARKSTON’S MONTHLY CITY COUNCIL MEETING I ATTENDED, A RAINBOW OF OLD AND NEW AMERICANS LINED UP TO MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD.

BIRENDRA DHAKAL: I just want to express my appreciation to the Mayor and his team for putting up the neighborhood bulletin. It has been really helpful for people like me to connect with the city.

AMINA: I appreciate Chief of the Police Scipio to help us with the blankets and the mattress for the new people from Bhutan.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: DESPITE THE DIVERSITY OF VOICES AT THE MIKE… AND WITHIN THE COMMUNITY — THE CLARKSTON CITY COUNCIL IS ALL WHITE. AND ALL 6 CANDIDATES IN THE LAST ELECTION, WERE WHITE AS WELL…

HEATHER WHITCOMB: We are here tonight to witness, the swearing in of three council members who were voted in with only 13% of voters showing up to the polls. Together we need to figure out a way to improve civic engagement and to move this city forward.

MAYOR RANSOM: We’re going to move forward our agenda and we’re going to get our officials sworn in so we can have a quorum.

MAYOR RANSOM: When nobody registered except for the – the six people who were all white Americans, I was very disappointed.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Is that a failure of democracy?

MAYOR RANSOM: We, as a council, have to do something about it. It’s not going to change itself; we have to change it.

MARIA HINOJOSA [narration]: AND THERE WERE SOME ENCOURAGING SIGNS OF CHANGE IN THIS YEAR’S CITY COUNCIL ELECTION.

MARIA HINOJOSA: You are Diane’s campaign manager?

AMINA OSMAN: Yes. I am the campaign manager.

DIANNE LEONETTI: Self appointed, and then I totally agreed.

MARIA HINOJOSA: She told you I’m going to be your campaign manager?

DIANNE LEONETTI: That’s right. She says, “You stick with me, and you will get elected.” She decided that I needed postcards with my picture on it so she could hand them out and people would remember who I was and she decided she needed a t-shirt to wear all over the place with my picture on it.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: IN A FIELD OF WHITE CANDIDATES, AMINA OSMAN, BECAME A POWER BROKER BEHIND THE SCENES.

MARIA HINOJOSA: You understood that part of what you needed to do as a smart politician was to get the vote of these former refugees?

DIANNE LEONETTI: It was Amina’s idea. Honest to gosh, I’m not taking credit for it.

MARIA HINOJOSA: And in fact, Dianne, you ended up getting the largest number of votes.

DIANNE LEONETTI: That was my secret weapon.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: COUNCILWOMAN DIANNE LEONETTI MIGHT JUST BE A SHREWD POLITICIAN… BUT SHE SAYS SHE’S HOPING TO BRIDGE THE DIVIDE BETWEEN OLD AND NEW AMERICANS IN CLARKSTON…WITH AMINA BY HER SIDE.

MARIA HINOJOSA: What doors was she opening for you?

DIANNE LEONETTI: Oh, just to meet more people and to see what their vision for Clarkston was, see what their vision for America was. She was like, “Come meet this guy. He wants to meet you. He’s from South Sudan. And I think it was the first time that anybody really reached out to really want to know: “What are you thinking? Where’s your heart? What’s going on in your life?”

MARIA HINOJOSA: Even though you were Dianne’s campaign manager, you couldn’t vote for her?

AMINA: Now I’m not American citizen. But if I could be American citizen, I could vote for her.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: EVERY SATURDAY AND SUNDAY MORNING IN A MAKESHIFT HINDU-BHUDDIST TEMPLE THAT DOUBLES AS A CLASSROOM, BIRENDRA DHAKAL’S CITIZENSHIP CLASSES ARE PACKED WITH BHUTTANESE REFUGEES CLAMORING FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE.

BIRENDRA DHAKAL AT CITIZENSHIP CLASS: Can you tell me, what is the capitol of the United States?

CLASS (in unison): Washington

BIREDNRA DHAKAL: Washington. Washington DC.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: NO ONE HERE HAS EVER VOTED. AND MANY WERE STRIPPED OF CITIZENSHIP IN THEIR HOMELAND.

BIRENDRA DHAKAL IN CITIZENSHIP CLASS: How did the name Washington come?

MARIA HINOJOSA: What does it mean to you to have this many people here wanting to learn about becoming American citizens?

BIRENDRA DHAKAL: If I’m able to help some more people to regain their pride of becoming a citizen, I think that I will be helping a lot for my community.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: BIRENDRA DHAKAL WAS THE FIRST REFUGEE FROM BHUTAN TO SETTLE IN CLARKSTON. HIS GOAL IS TO HELP EVERY ONE OF HIS FELLOW BHUTANESE MAKE THE TRANSITION HE JUST MADE – BECOMING A U.S. CITIZEN AND A VOTER.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Are you the only one registering? Or is everyone registering?

BIRENDRA DHAKAL: Everyone.

BIRENDRA DHAKAL: People in America think democracy is given to them “Oh I don’t need to vote.” But for us it’s so important because we are doing it the first time, you know.

BIRENDRA DHAKAL: I’m always confused with this word Asian. Now we are Asian or not?

MARIA HINOJOSA: What does that mean to go in, cast a ballot, for someone like you?

BIRENDRA: That’s the time I will feel that I belong to a nation, that I’m helping the development of a nation.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: SO IN THIS NEW AMERICA, IT’S BECOMING CLEAR THAT LEARNING ABOUT NEW CULTURES AND ADAPTING TO CHANGE IS A TWO-WAY STREET.

I SAW IT FIRST HAND AT ONE OF THE FEW AMERICAN-OWNED BUSINESSES LEFT IN CLARKSTON.

MARIA HINOJOSA: If you hadn’t been open to change do you think that Thrift Town would have survived?

KAREN MEHLINGER: No. [laughs]

BILL MEHLINGER: It’d be gone. I mean it was almost gone. It was within about ten days of being gone. I was getting foreclosed on.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: TWENTY YEARS AGO, BILL AND KAREN MEHLINGER’S THRIFT TOWN GROCERY WAS ON THE VERGE OF GOING OUT OF BUSINESS. AS MORE AND MORE REFUGEES ARRIVED, THE MEHLINGERS HIRED A VIETNAMESE CASHIER. AND THEY’VE LISTENED TO HER.

BILL MEHLINGER: We went to different little Asian stores. She helped me, uh, decide what would sell, what her mama bought at the other stores, what her grandma bought. Eventually we were finding the products they wanted and, uh, business started to climb.

MARIA HINOJOSA: What was your first reaction, when you saw that Clarkston was changing?

BILL MEHLINGER: Oh, thank goodness. When I bought the store it was, this was a pretty low income neighborhood. It was a rough environment and it has changed dramatically since the immigrants have come in.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Do you think that our country is a country that is open and prepared for that kind of change?

BILL MEHLINGER: I don’t know that it matters. It’s happening.

KAREN MEHLINGER: [overlap] well, I mean, that’s how our country started.

BILL MEHLINGER: …it’s a fact.

KAREN MEHLINGER: I mean that’s the way our country started. My grandparents are from Italy.

BILL MEHLINGER: as mine.

KAREN MEHLINGER: his from…

BILL MEHLINGER: Germany.

KAREN MEHLINGER: Germany.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Do you understand fear though, when…people say I don’t understand them…

KAREN MEHLINGER: [OVERLAP] Well, they don’t understand us, so imagine their fear.

BILL MEHLINGER: They’re a little more frightened than we are –you should see some of these girls on the registers when I first hired them. They were terrified. They overcame a lot.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: IT TURNS OUT MAYOR RANSOM OVERCAME SOME FEARS OF HIS OWN.

MARIA HINOJOSA: You, in fact, said that you originally wanted to get involved with city politics in Clarkston because you had a problem with the refugee population.

MAYOR RANSOM: Yes

MARIA HINOJOSA: Now the fact that you, at one point, as a black man looked at this international community and said “I don’t know if you all have a place here…”

MAYOR RANSOM: It makes you feel like an ass, actually, because I knew better.

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: MEANWHILE A HUGE NUMBER OF NEW AMERICANS ARE BECOMING CITIZENS. SO HOW MIGHT THEY AFFECT THE 2012 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS? IF THEY STAND UP TO BE COUNTED, MULTICULTURAL VOTERS COULD BE THE MARGIN OF VICTORY IN HIGHLY DIVERSE STATES THAT UNTIL NOW HAVE BEEN RELIABLY RED – LIKE GEORGIA OR ARIZONA. WE KNOW THAT IN 2008, OBAMA CARRIED 80% OF ALL NON-WHITE VOTERS. AND THAT THE SHARE OF THESE VOTERS HAS GROWN IN EVERY STATE. POLITICAL SCIENTISTS FORECAST THAT IN 2012 OBAMA COULD WIN WITH JUST 38% OF THE WHITE VOTE. BUT THESE ARE PROJECTIONS. THE NEW AMERICANS I MET – JUST LIKE THE OLD — ARE PRETTY HARD TO PIGEON HOLE.

SUJAL DHAKAL: There – there’s a difference of opinion now, my Dad’s — I still think he’s trying to decide whether he wants to be a Republican or a Democrat. I’m strictly Ron Paul; I think I’m for him, less government power.

DORA DHAKAL: For me the big issues are health care and so, I guess I would go towards Democrat like Obama. [Laughs] I want to keep his health care.

BENU DHAKAL: Me, I haven’t decided yet. I have to think of it.

DIMPLE DHAKAL: Most probably Obama, ‘cause I have liberal views, and I like his health care policy. So…

BIRENDRA DHAKAL: Gay rights, they call this… the abortion. I never grew up with this kind of thing. So I tend to be a little republican, you know, really very conservative…

DIANNE LEONETTI: Yeah, I’m pretty socially Conservative.

MARIA HINOJOSA: So, do you support the Tea Party?

DIANNE LEONETTI: Yeah, I would.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Do you talk about these things?

DIANNE LEONETTI: Yeah, we do. We talk, yeah. She knows my views.

AMINA OSMAN: Yes, I know her views.

DIANNE LEONETTI: Yeah.

MARIA HINOJOSA: And you like Obama?

AMINA OSMAN: Yes, I like Obama.

MARIA HINOJOSA: If you could vote you would vote for Obama.

AMINA OSMAN: Direct!

MARIA HINOJOSA: Would you vote for Obama?

DIANNE LEONETTI: No.

MARIA HINOJOSA: And you don’t want to convince Amina?

DIANNE LEONETTI: No.

MARIA HINOJOSA: But she’s your campaign manager.

AMINA OSMAN: But we are not sisters because of the party. We are sisters because we are sister.

DIANNE LEONETTI: Yeah.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Can Clarkston, in fact, survive without the refugee international community?

MAYOR RANSOM: Half of the citizens that used to be here have moved out of Clarkston. Our refugee community is the majority now, and how are you going to survive without them?

MARIA HINOJOSA: Now, what would happen Graham if a refugee decides that they want to run for mayor?

GRAHAM THOMAS: I probably wouldn’t vote for him unless I could get some reassurance that he knows what he’s doing.

MARIA HINOJOSA: Will you run for office Amina?

AMINA OSMAN: Yes. When I get my citizenship. I’m going to be a mayor.

MARIA HINOJOSA: You’re going to be the Mayor? So you want to be the Mayor of Clarkston. Did you know that, Dianne?

DIANNE LEONETTI: No, that’s news to me.

AMINA OSMAN: I’m going to be a mayor.

DIANNE LEONETTI: Why not?

MARIA HINOJOSA [NARRATION]: THAT’S IT FOR NOW. I’M MARIA HINOJOSA. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON AMERICA BY THE NUMBERS.

 
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