Ruben Navarrette Lets His Republican Instincts Knock Him Off of His Rocker

by Mahwish Khan on 09/10/2012 at 2:11pm

While we don’t always agree with Ruben Navarrette’s writing, we usually think he makes provocative points in a way that calls out both parties fairly.  However, there are a few claims in his most recent column that are so wildly out of context (and so egregiously misrepresent history) that we feel compelled to respond.

In his latest column, Navarrette writes:

The way that the Democratic Party manipulated the immigration issue at its national convention was just reprehensible.

He asks, “Who was it who killed the DREAM Act, a bill that would have granted permanent legal status to college-bound students, when it came up for a vote in the Senate in December 2010?  Answer: five Democrats — John Tester and Max Baucus of Montana, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska — who voted “no” on cloture.”

Whoa. Just two weeks ago, the Republican Party held its own convention in Tampa, Florida, and the way Republicans completely ignored the immigration issue was “just reprehensible”. In fact, Jordan Fabian of Univision was so appalled, he wrote:

no speaker took the opportunity to address the topic, and that gaping absence stood out like a sore thumb. (emphasis in original)

And while we certainly think those five Democrats should be called out and criticized for their vote on this important bill (and we DID call them out), on the whole Democrats were not responsible for the bill’s demise.  Republicans in the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly against DREAM, while Democrats in the House and Senate voted overwhelmingly on behalf of DREAM. 

Here are the facts on the DREAM Act vote in December 2010:

  • In the U.S. House of Representatives, the DREAM Act passed by a 216-198 margin
  • House Republicans voted against the DREAM Act by a 160-8 vote margin
  • House Democrats voted for the DREAM Act by a 208-38 vote margin
  • 96% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Democrats
  • 4% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Republicans

The DREAM Act also won majority support in the Senate, but it failed to win the 60 votes needed to end the Republican filibuster on the measure and the bill died.  The final vote tally was 55-41.

  • Republican Senators voted against the DREAM Act by a 36-3 vote margin
  • Democratic Senators voted for the DREAM Act by a 52-5 margin (with 1 Democratic senator not voting)
  • 95% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Democrats (including Independents who caucus with the Democrats)
  • 5% of the votes for DREAM were cast by Republicans
  • 10 sitting Republican Senators who had voted for some version of the DREAM Act in the past opposed the bill in 2010

And a reminder: the 2010 Senate vote was a vote to end the Republican filibuster.  If you’re filibustering a bill, it means you’re obstructing it from moving forward and you are clearly trying to keep it from passing.

Navarrette continues:

“If you think the president was right to open the doors of American opportunity to all those young immigrants brought here when they were young so they can serve in the military or go to college,” Clinton told delegates, “you must vote for Barack Obama.”

That was my wake-up call. As anyone who follows the immigration debate closely knows, Clinton is the last person who should be talking about opening doors for immigrants. All he did while in office was close those doors.

Yes, true. President Bill Clinton signed the 1996 Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act, which, as Navarrette notes in his piece, “makes it easier for the federal government to deport illegal immigrants and harder to fight their removals.” But Navarrette fails to mention that lead House anti-immigrants, Rep. Lamar Smith and Rep. Elton Gallegly, were the authors of these horrendous policies — the same Lamar Smith who, as the writer admitted earlier this year, tends to “create his own reality” on immigration.

As we noted earlier, Navarrette is usually on point. But in this piece, his Republican instincts knocked him off of his rocker.

  • Dr Cintli

    Your being kind to him. Go back through his writings and you will see that he may be on point, but usually, the wrong point. Go back to his writings on language and the UFW also.

  • Amoachi & Johnson

    I think it is America’s Voices Democratic instincts that have knocked them off their rocker, to use your words.

    Bill Clinton could have vetoed the 1996 laws, no? Ruben also includes the record deportations under Obama administration. He is not saying that Republicans are better on immigration, just that the Democrats are extremely suspect.
    If you want what Ruben wrote but with more “numbers” to back it up, look no further than this article:

  • Amoachi & Johnson

    Ruben was right. Almost half of congress voted in favor of 1996 laws. Harry Reid voted in favor too.

    Why are you not holding the Democratic party responsible for destroying immigrant families by signing IIRIRA into law in 1996?

  • Lory Rosenberg

    Deplorable deportation policies and particularly horrendous detention policies by DHS/ICE under this administration are principally due to the anti-immigrant (mostly) Republican dynamics that prevent any humane or pragmatic movement in Congress on long overdue immigration reform, and the lack of (most) Democrat’s courage – until President Obama acted – to force the issue. The Democratic Party’s endorsement of immigrants rights issues should be embraced not “called out.”

  • Amoachi & Johnson

    But what about the 1996 laws that could have been vetoed by Bill Clinton?

    Why shouldn’t the public know about the history of the party who claims to support them and their families?

    I would love to endorse the Democratic party, but I honestly believe that they are not being genuine on endorsing immigrant rights and therefore will not follow through on action that takes courage, namely positive immigration reform.

    Latinos should be able to demand more of the Democrats if they want their vote. They have the right to know why the Democratic party rolled over in 1996 and caused their family of the family of someone they know to have been ripped apart.

    I’ll provide one concrete example of how cruel and arbitrary the ’96 laws are acting out in the present day.

    I have a client who entered without inspection 7 years ago. He has two DUI convictions. The second time he was arrested, ICE detained him and issued a Notice to Appear.

    He has two USC daugthers, one who is 4 years old and has a severe case of cerebral palsy because she was born after only 25 weeks gestation. She loves her dad.

    Her father’s brief detention was devastating. While he was detained, she went for a routine check up with her doctor.

    In the notes, the doctor wrote that the girl was crying every night screaming out to be held by her dad and that she was refusing to do her daily physical therapy.

    If a person with cerebral palsy in this instance does not do physical therapy, the person’s muscles atrophy, which could lead to death.

    In other words, even with his two DUI convictions, this case would be a very strong candidate for cancellation of removal because a 4-year-old girl would literally die a painful and slow death.

    In 1996, almost half of the democratic party arbitrarily and cruelly changed the law, requiring 10 years instead of 7 years to avoid deportation. (and stop-time) And for what?

    They KNEW that scenarios as I describe above would happen. They knew that severely disabled little girls and boys would be stripped of their parents when they needed them most, and for what?

    This is but one example. I do not support the Republican party at all. They are as culpable or more than the Democrats.

    But to me, when I see that the Democrats could have prevented the 1996 laws, and I see the expansion of secure communities and liason’s with persons such as Joe Arpaio, I think that it is a sham.

    Even if it is not a Sham and Obama is serious about pushing genuine reform, Latinos should keep up the pressure. That is what led to DACA in the first place. It’s clearly politically motivated and as such, it can be used by Latinos and others in favor of immigration reform to push the issue even further.

    Heck, why not demand that DACA program be expanded to prior to elections to include applicants who entered at 16 or 17 or who have not accumulated the full 5 years?

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