Thursday, August 3, 2006

Who must the "Protector" protect, and who can a candidate disregard?

The Nashville Scene reports in this article on the political candidacy of Juan Borges, Nashville Police's official liaison to the Hispanic community as part of the "El Protector" program started by Chief Serpas. The article tracks existing dissatisfaction with Borges but also points out that his political positions further threaten his relationship with the very community he is still charged to protect.

"Like most politicians these days, Juan Borges has staked out a hard-line, conservative stance on immigration. If elected as a Republican to the state House in November, he says he’ll push for an English-only driver’s license exam, punish businesses that hire illegal immigrants and authorize local cops to uphold federal immigration laws. As it is, police aren’t permitted to punish immigrants for being illegal."

"Sounds like almost any candidate running for office here in Middle Tennessee. Problem is, Borges isn’t just any candidate. He’s one of two officers appointed by Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas to run El Protector, a program designed to improve relations between the cop shop and Nashville’s blossoming immigrant community, legal or otherwise."

The Scene points out the tension between community participation in a program like "El Protector" and the constituency of a political candidate:

"[Borges] speaks to the voters about his conservative principles—he has signed a Tennessee Eagle Forum pledge and has been endorsed by Tennessee Right to Life—and his contempt for career politicians. The voters are mostly older and white. They like candidate Borges. A retired couple even agree to put one of his signs on their lawn."

"Many of these folks are on the same page with Borges when it comes to immigration, and that’s a good thing for him. After all, these people count. They’re voters."

Borges is the Republican candidate for the 60th District in the state House of Representatives and would be the first male Hispanic to serve in that body. He will run against the Democratic incumbent Ben West, whose father was Mayor of Nashville during the civil rights movement and one of the first public officials here to denounce the segregation of the city's lunch counters. WKRN-Channel 2 produced this recent report on the tightly parallel political positions of the two men, who say that immigration and taxes are two of the city's primary problems.

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