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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.