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“Latino Voters Not Loving Cruz, Rubio”: These Two Have Taken To Casting Other Latino Immigrants As The Outsiders

It’s striking that in a presidential season with two viable Latino contenders, discussion of Hispanic voters has been negligible.

This will change as the primaries move to states with larger Latino populations, Nevada being first up. In those states, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio will come under questioning for ethnic loyalty.

This scrutiny will do them no favors. While some may imagine that Cruz or Rubio would get a boost in the general election from being the first Hispanic presidential nominee, either one would only help to hand the White House to the Democrats. The reason is simple: They continue to spurn other Hispanics.

Here we have two children of immigrants trying to get elected by demonizing immigrants. Indeed, Rubio and Cruz embody a reality that they and their party deny: Latinos become Americanized very quickly.

Both men are very close to their immigrant roots, one generation away. Yet both men are highly assimilated. Rubio’s love of rap music and respect for Pitbull, N.W.A., Tupac and Nicki Minaj, is often cited. Cruz, raised in Texas and the son of an evangelical preacher, has a penchant for Western attire and after 9/11 switched his preference from classic rock to country music.

This is not exceptional for Latino families, whether they are legally in the United States or not. Assimilation happens; it’s an unstoppable force of our society.

Neither man speaks with an accent; only Rubio is bilingual. Latino immigrant families shift from Spanish, becoming monolingual in English by the third generation. They follow the same pattern, the same fluid rate of language acquisition, as previous immigrant groups, be they European or Asian. In fact, some studies suggest that language shifts are now occurring faster for Latinos, due to technology.

But to appeal to a GOP base that is positioned as anti-immigrant, these two have taken to casting other Latino immigrants as the outsiders, as resistant to becoming Americanized, as unworthy of opportunities to right their immigration status, whether that be by legislation or executive order.

On the campaign trail this year, only one message is permissible to Republican candidates: Latinos are to be feared and deported. Build the wall! Secure the borders! End birthright citizenship!

Never mind that migration from Mexico has dramatically slowed and that illegal migration peaked nearly a decade ago.

Some ascribe Rubio’s and Cruz’ lack of sympathy to being of Cuban descent. Cubans enjoy a huge advantage over other immigrants. If they can reach U.S. soil, they have an easy path to permanent legal status within a year. It’s a leftover policy from the Cold War, when many were fleeing the persecution of communist repression, although that wasn’t the case with either of the senators’ families.

Increasingly, that connection to yesteryear is fraying. Cuban-Americans are moving away from their once steadfast ties to the GOP.

Interestingly, Rubio probably got a taste of the non-Cuban immigrant experiences. He spent a portion of his teen-age years in Las Vegas, where his father found work as a bartender. The young Rubio was often assumed to be Mexican-American and counted many Mexican-American schoolmates as his closest friends. It’s reasonable to assume that he knew kids who had parents or other family members who were in this country without legal status.

Perhaps that experience is what led Rubio to join the Gang of Eight, a group of senators who authored the last sane proposal for immigration reform, in 2013.

Now he tries to scrub that fact from his record.

A record 27.3 million Latinos will be eligible to vote this election cycle. Nearly half, 44 percent, will be millennials, according to Pew Research Center. Data crunchers believe that the eventual winner of the 2016 presidential election will need to draw at least 40 percent of Hispanic votes.

Immigration obviously isn’t the only issue of interest to Latinos; it isn’t even the most important. Jobs, the economy, education rank very high too.

However, it is a kind of gut-level test about attitudes. Rubio, especially, with his shifting to attract right-wing votes, has jilted Latino voters who would like to like him.

Given their current posturing on immigration, neither Rubio nor Cruz has a chance.

The backlash is coming. A group of high-profile Latino celebrities, including Benjamin Bratt, America Ferrera, George Lopez and Zoe Saldana, organized to call on the GOP presidential candidates to end their anti-immigrant fear-mongering.

Guitarist Carlos Santana, in a statement, underlined the plea this way: “It’s never too late to graduate from the university of fear!” Sadly, it may be if you are seeking the Republican nomination.

 

By: Mary Sanchez, Opinion-Page Columnist for The Kansas City Star; The National Memo, February 12, 2016

February 14, 2016 Posted by | Immigrants, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Ugly Rhetoric Of The GOP Primaries”: The Republican Candidates Are Finding New And Innovative Ways To Alienate Minorities

It’s safe to say that the Republican nominee for president, whoever he ends up being, will not be getting too many votes from Muslim Americans. Or possibly any votes at all.

Donald Trump who claimed falsely that thousands of Muslims celebrated the downing of the Twin Towers, and who wants to ban Muslims from entering the United States, is still leading the polls. The one who said that no Muslim should be allowed to be president isn’t doing so well; Ben Carson just fired much of his staff and his campaign is obviously melting down. But Marco Rubio, who appears to be on the rise, sent a clear message to Muslims on Wednesday, which we’ll get to in a moment.

The point, though, isn’t that the Muslim vote will be critical to the 2016 outcome; Muslims make up only around 1 percent of the U.S. population, and many of them are not yet citizens and so aren’t eligible to vote. But the rancid Islamophobia on display in the Republican primary campaign is more than a threat to Republicans’ showing among Muslim voters, it’s a threat to their prospects among all non-white voters. Combine it with the way Republicans have talked about immigration and the way they’ve talked about President Obama, and you could hardly have assembled a better case to minorities that they should reject the GOP.

Back to what happened this week: President Obama visited a mosque in Baltimore on Wednesday, the first such visit of his presidency. He hit familiar notes in his speech, condemning hate crimes against Muslims and noting the long history of Islam in America. He acknowledged a young woman in the audience, Ibtihaj Muhammad, who will be representing the United States in fencing at this summer’s Olympics — in her hijab. “At a time when others are trying to divide us along lines of religion or sect,” he said, “we have to reaffirm that most fundamental of truths: We are all God’s children.”

For Marco Rubio, that statement of unity was just too much to bear. “I’m tired of being divided against each other for political reasons like this president’s done,” he told an audience in New Hampshire. “Always pitting people against each other. Always! Look at today: He gave a speech at a mosque. Oh, you know, basically implying that America is discriminating against Muslims.” Indeed, what could be more divisive than a plea for solidarity and understanding?

Donald Trump also weighed in on the president’s visit to a mosque, saying, “Maybe he feels comfortable there.” Because he might be a secret Muslim, get it? Ha ha!

Think for a moment about how a member of any minority group — African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, Muslim, Jew, Pacific Islander — would view everything that has gone on in this primary campaign, and how inclined it might make them feel to vote for whichever candidate the Republicans nominate.

We often assume that the effect of something like Trump’s comments on Muslims or the GOP debate on who hates “amnesty” the most will only affect the opinions of the particular group being targeted at that moment. But everyone else hears those things too. For people who have the experience of being a minority in America, it doesn’t go unnoticed when one party communicates that it’s actively hostile to people who aren’t white and Christian. Even if you’re, say, Asian-American and you haven’t heard a GOP candidate attack people like you specifically, you’ll probably suspect that that’s only because they haven’t gotten around to it yet. In case you were wondering, Asian-Americans gave Barack Obama 73 percent of their votes in 2012, and they’re the fastest-growing minority group in the country.

The other critical fast-growing group is, of course, Hispanics. While we don’t yet know who the GOP nominee will be, we know that he’ll be someone who spent an awful lot of time condemning undocumented immigrants and trying to get to his opponents’ right on “amnesty.” And as multiple demographic analyses (see here or here) have shown, if Republicans don’t dramatically improve their performance among Hispanics, it will be all but mathematically impossible for them to win.

That’s not even to mention African-Americans, the most loyal segment of the Democratic coalition. They were certainly energized by the presence of the first African-American president on the ticket, and do you think they’ll be motivated to vote against the Republicans who attack Barack Obama with such venom?

There is the chance, however, that the GOP could have the first Hispanic major-party nominee in 2016. But it’s impossible to say how much of an impact Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz would have on the Hispanic vote.

Many knowledgeable Hispanic politicos (at least the Democratic ones) argue that it wouldn’t change Hispanic voters’ feelings much, for three reasons: First, Rubio and Cruz are both Cuban-American, and the ties of solidarity between Cubans and people whose heritage is Mexican or Salvadoran or anything else aren’t as strong as some might think (this is even more true for Cruz, who unlike Rubio doesn’t speak fluent Spanish). Second, Hispanic voters are keenly aware of the policy differences between them and the GOP, differences that have been heightened during the campaign. And third, Rubio or Cruz wouldn’t be able to escape the message of hostility their party has sent to Hispanic voters for years, but especially this year.

They’ll have trouble escaping it not only because of the clear record of the primaries — which among other things included Cruz making clear his opposition to birthright citizenship, a bedrock American principle — but because they’ll find themselves assaulted relentlessly by other Hispanics who oppose them. Recently, Jorge Ramos, the most influential Hispanic journalist in America, wrote a scorching column criticizing Rubio and Cruz (among others), in which he said, “There is no greater disloyalty than the children of immigrants forgetting their own roots. That’s a betrayal.” Expect to see a lot more of that in the general election.

You can also expect to see the Republican nominee take a drastically different tone on issues like immigration once the general election rolls around, because he’ll have a different audience and a different set of voters to persuade. He’ll play down the positions he has taken, and talk in more welcoming, inclusive terms. He’ll pull people of all races up on stage with him. The appeals he makes to white resentment will become more subtle and implicit.

In short, whoever that nominee is, he’ll try to make everyone forget the ugly rhetoric of the Republican primaries. But by then it will probably be too late.

 

By: Paul Waldman, Senior Writer, The American Prospect; Contributor, The Week, February 5, 2016

February 7, 2016 Posted by | GOP Primaries, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“An Emotionally Abusive Relationship”: Tea Partyers Love The Constitution So Much — They Want To Blow It Up

Sometimes I think tea partyers are in an emotionally abusive relationship with the Constitution.

One day, they proclaim its inerrancy and say it must be loved, honored and obeyed in all its original perfection. The next day, they call for a constitutional convention, arguing that it’s broken, outdated and desperately in need of a facelift.

In other words: I love you, you’re perfect, now change.

This pure, pristine document is so fervently adored by people of the parchment that some carry it around with them at all times — sometimes in their breast pockets, close to their hearts, perhaps to protect them from a stray Second Amendment-protected bullet. They cite it as they might scripture (that is, often incorrectly, and for their own purposes).

They believe that anyone who questions the Constitution’s decrees must be verbally flogged or even impeached. The United States’ sacred scroll must be feared, fetishized and followed to the letter — down to the comma, even — in its original, strictly constructed form.

Indeed, above all other national concerns, this founding document must be preserved as is.

But now a line of thinking has emerged that the best way to preserve the Constitution is to revamp it completely.

Consider Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), a tea party darling, who wants to convene a constitutional convention to amend this precious political heirloom.

And not to push through just a single amendment, but nine.

These amendments include: allowing a two-thirds majority of the states to override a Supreme Court decision; prohibiting Congress from regulating activity that occurs wholly within one state; and requiring a seven-justice supermajority for Supreme Court decisions that invalidate a democratically enacted law. Abbott also demands a balanced-budget amendment, which almost certainly would have been opposed by Alexander Hamilton, the Founding Father who was the most prolific defender of the Constitution.

These are not minor copy edits.

In a 92-page document defending his proposals, Abbott laments widespread ignorance of the Constitution and argues that his plan is “not so much a vision to alter the Constitution as it is a call to restore the rule of our current one.”

The Constitution itself is not broken,” Abbott writes in italics. “What is broken is our Nation’s willingness to obey the Constitution and to hold our leaders accountable to it.”

In other words, the Constitution says what Abbott thinks it says, not what it actually says, or what the Supreme Court decides it says — so now we just need to rewrite it so that the text fits what’s in his head.

Abbott is not the only right-wing Constitution-thumper to call for reframing the Founding Fathers’ allegedly perfect handiwork.

Marco Rubio, apparently trying to capture more of his party’s fringe, recently announced that on his “first day in office” as commander in chief, he would “put the prestige and power of the presidency behind a constitutional convention of the states.” Its agenda would be to impose term limits on federal legislators and judges, as well as a balanced-budget amendment.

Rubio assured Americans that delegates to such a convention “won’t be able to touch our important constitutional rights.”

Who determines which parts of the Constitution are important and therefore untouchable, and which are unimportant and touchable? Rubio, apparently.

Then there’s Donald Trump, who, along with others, wants to roll back the 14th Amendment to quash birthright citizenship . (In the meantime, he’ll settle for casting aspersions on his political enemies’ birthplaces.)

And Ben Carson — author of a book subtitled “What We the People Can Do to Reclaim Our Constitutional Liberties” — has argued that U.S. law is not subject to judicial review from the Supreme Court, contra Marbury v. Madison. (Carson has also expressed other funny ideas about what’s in the Constitution and who wrote it.) Like Rubio, Carson has supported the idea of a constitutional convention, along with fellow Republican presidential candidates Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee and John Kasich.

Then there’s Ted Cruz, who devotes a whole section on his campaign website to his pledge to “defend the Constitution” and “restore the Constitution as our standard.”

Cruz, too, has decided that the best way to “restore” the Constitution is by altering it. He supports amendments to require a balanced budget, let state legislatures define marriage and subject Supreme Court justices to periodic retention elections.

These and “many more” unspecified amendments are needed, he told reporters, “because the federal government and the courts have gotten so far away from the original text and the original understanding of our Constitution.”

Because, obviously, the best way to honor that cherished, perfect, original text is by getting rid of it.

 

By: Catherine Rample, Opinion Writer, The Washington Post, January 14, 2015

January 15, 2016 Posted by | Constitution, Constitutional Convention, Greg Abbott, Tea Party | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Polarized Congress Will Ignore Pope’s Plea”: We Are Living Through A Deeply Polarized Era In Which Compromise Is A Dirty Word

In a more generous political climate, an adorable little girl who gave a letter and a hug to Pope Francis could make a difference. In an era with a more pragmatic Congress and a less Balkanized electorate, 5-year-old Sophie Cruz could break through the gridlock around immigration reform.

But we are living through a deeply polarized era in which compromise is a dirty word, listening to those with whom we disagree is seen as weakness and respect for different opinions regarded as betrayal. Pope Francis’ gracious address to Congress, in which he urged compassion toward “foreigners,” won’t change that. Neither will a cute little girl.

The pope’s embrace of young Sophie has flashed around the world, carried at the supersonic speed of social media. As he made his way down the National Mall in the Popemobile on Wednesday, he spotted her trying to break through his firewall of security guards and beckoned for her.

She handed him a letter — accompanied by a delightful drawing of the pope with children of different races — pleading for a comprehensive immigration reform that might save her parents from deportation. Though she is a citizen (so far, at least, since Donald Trump has not yet had his way on birthright citizenship), her parents crossed the border from Mexico illegally.

Her well-written letter and her flawless recitation of it for reporters were no accident. She and her parents, who live in Los Angeles, went to Washington with a group of immigration activists. They apparently chose Sophie as likely to get the pope’s attention because of his well-known affection for children.

Their strategy hearkens back to the days of the civil rights movement, when activists scoured the landscape for well-scrubbed and presentable symbols to show to the nation. That’s quite understandable. When an oppressed group has the opportunity to present itself on a grand stage, its leaders seek to make a good impression. And that in no way diminishes Sophie’s charm.

She gave moving testimony to the anxiety and insecurity created by the threat of deportation, writing to the pope: “I would like to ask you to speak with the president and the Congress in [sic] legalizing my parents because every day I am scared that one day they will take them away from me.”

But those voters who are willing to be persuaded by the hopes and dreams of 11 million undocumented immigrants already support changing the law. According to a recent CBS poll, 58 percent believe they should be given citizenship, while another 10 percent believe they should be granted legal status. That’s a substantial majority who support bringing those immigrants out of the shadows.

The Republican Party, however, has been captured by the xenophobic minority following Donald Trump, with his denunciation of Mexicans as “rapists” and “murderers” and his insistence on deportation for millions. Little Sophie won’t change their views. Neither will the powerful preaching of Pope Francis.

“In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants,” he told Congress.

In a different political climate, that message may have moved Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic, who teared up during the pope’s address. But he seems cowed by the nativists in his restive caucus, and he has refused, so far, to force a vote on the comprehensive immigration reform plan passed by the Senate two years ago.

Our political system is paralyzed, for now, by the fears and bigotry of a few. And little Sophie can’t change that.

 

By: Cynthia Tucker Haynes, Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 2007; The National Memo, September 26, 2015

 

Editor’s Note: House Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation, effective October 30, after this piece was filed.

September 27, 2015 Posted by | Congress, Immigration Reform, Pope Francis | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Adding Insult With Significant Physical Injury”: The 2016 Campaign Joke That’s No Longer Funny — Just Violent

Let’s be honest: We’ve all been kind of enjoying watching Donald Trump, even if the prospect of him becoming the next president makes many of us shudder in horror.

But as he continues to lead in national polls, Trump’s campaign is giving us all another reason to pause: As of late, physical violence has been following the candidate on the campaign trail, and leaving those who dare challenge his offensive remarks and policy positions shaken up at best, banged up and bruised at worst. The common thread among those attacked by Trump’s goons (both hired and not): They’re all Latino men.

On Thursday, while Donald Trump was signing a GOP loyalty oath, promising to back the winning Republican presidential nominee and not run as an independent should he lose the party’s nomination, one of his security guards ripped a sign away from protesters outside Trump Tower in New York City and then hit a protester in the face after the man attempted to retrieve the sign.

The large blue banner read, “Make America Racist Again,” a play on Trump’s campaign slogan, “Make America Great Again.”

In news video footage, the protester who was hit, Efraín Galicia, is seen chasing after the security guard. As Galicia attempts to take back the sign, the guard turns and hits him in the face.

“These men are acting just like their boss, Donald Trump, pushing Jorge Ramos from Univision out,” Galicia said of the guards. “This man thinks he can do whatever he wants in this country, and we’re going to stop him.”

“The Trump campaign said that the security team member on Thursday was ‘jumped from behind’ and that the campaign would ‘likely be pressing charges,’” The New York Times reports.

This week’s strong-arming follows an August incident in which journalist Jorge Ramos was physically removed from a Trump campaign event by a security guard — who appears to be the same man who struck the protester outside Trump Tower.

When Ramos attempted to ask Trump a question about immigration, without being acknowledged to speak by The Donald, Trump told him to sit down and “Go back to Univision.” Later, Trump said he was not a bully, and Ramos “was totally out of line.”

In the most physically violent example of what Trump and his campaign have wrought, two of the candidate’s supporters in Boston allegedly beat and urinated on a homeless Latino man, after which one of the attackers reportedly told police, “Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported.”

The survivor of the assault, a 58-year-old man who had been sleeping on the street, had his nose broken and chest and arms beaten by the suspects, two brothers who were leaving a Boston Red Sox game.

Adding insult to significant physical injury, Trump’s immediate comment on the attack was callous and cruel. The Boston Globe reports:

Trump, told of the alleged assault, said “it would be a shame … I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”

Later, he tempered his original statement, claiming on Twitter that he “would never condone violence.”

Boston incident is terrible. We need energy and passion, but we must treat each other with respect. I would never condone violence.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2015

He “would never condone violence,” Trumps says, but he would, and has, proposed deporting millions of undocumented immigrants, stripping citizenship rights from the American children of undocumented immigrants, and building a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border to keep out immigrants, refugees, and political asylum seekers fleeing poverty and violence in their countries. He has also said he would bomb nations in the Middle East and take their oil by military force. But, again, he “would never condone violence.”

While Trump himself has not put his hands on anyone, his rhetoric against undocumented immigrants, his choice of words, which dehumanizes Latino immigrants as “illegals,” and his responses to the violent altercations occurring in his name make him responsible.

What began as comical media fodder that has kept us smiling in disgust during the start of the long 2016 presidential campaign season has devolved into violent hate with bodily consequences. And with five months to go until the GOP primaries begin, Americans should be worried about how politics, sometimes described as the civilized exertion of power, is turning into a blood sport.

 

By: Matt Surrusco, The National Memo, September 4, 2015

September 5, 2015 Posted by | Donald Trump, Latinos, Physical Violence | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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