Ruben Navarrette Receives “Telling it Like it Is” Award for Speaking Truth About GOP Need to Get Right on Immigration
Washington – Last week’s Republican-backed Hispanic Leadership Network conference in South Florida overflowed with chatter about how the GOP needs to improve its positioning with Latino voters. Amidst all the discussion, however, few voices at the conference admitted the simple truth that appealing to Latino voters will not simply require a change in “tone” when it comes to the immigration issue, but a change in policies advocated by the GOP. At the conference, one speaker stood out in particular for his rank hypocrisy on immigration, continuing an unprecedented effort to portray himself as a supporter of common sense immigration reform while consistently working to derail issue. So without further adieu, and in the spirit of Hollywood’s awards season, America’s Voice would like to honor Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) with the prestigious award of “Biggest Hypocrite on Immigration, January 2011.”
According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “It’s truly a dishonor and far from a privilege to present this award to Senator Cornyn. While he continues to talk a good game about the need for common sense immigration reform, every single time it’s mattered, Senator Cornyn has voted the wrong way. It’s incredible that he continues to blame Democrats for the lack of progress on immigration solutions, when Senator Cornyn has consistently opposed reform in Congress.”
At the Hispanic Leadership Network conference, Senator Cornyn portrayed himself as a dedicated advocate for immigration reform and blamed the lack of progress on Democrats. According to POLITICO, Cornyn “reiterated his commitment to overhauling immigration, saying a broken system serves neither ‘our interests or our values.’” Senator Cornyn said that “It is easy to be skeptical about the prospects of immigration reform when both the White House and the United States Senate have been in hands of Democratic leaders who make promises they have not fulfilled…We can’t simply kick the can down the road.”
Cornyn knows from whence he speaks. Having voted against comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act each twice during his Senate career, Cornyn is a master of “kick the can” politics. He has also mastered the art of triangulation, claiming to support comprehensive immigration reform, but insisting that the border should be “secured” before other elements of reform are taken up. Given the fact that a Democrat occupies the White House and is in charge of immigration enforcement, we’re betting that Cornyn and others in the GOP are not planning to declare the border “secure” before 2013 at the earliest.
The fact is, the federal government has dramatically bolstered border security and spending, and crimes along the border have actually decreased. The missing piece of the puzzle is a fair and practical way of dealing with the 11 million undocumented immigrants in our country today, something that Cornyn claims to support but consistently votes against.
Thankfully, as a counterbalance to Senator Cornyn, another conference attendee stood out for actually speaking the truth. Syndicated conservative columnist Navarrette wins the “Telling It Like It Is” award for voicing an uncomfortable truth to many of his fellow conservatives: namely, that they are in a deep rut of denial regarding Latino outreach if they think that they can fix their “Latino problem” through a few simple changes in rhetoric. Said Navarrette at the conference, “If you come away thinking that this is all about language and tone, you will miss the point… You are always going to be number two…The problem is not the tone. It is the message itself—it is offensive, racist. You’ve got to fix the product.” In his syndicated column following the conference, entitled “GOP Needs an Exorcist,” Navarrette noted, “When it comes to immigration, the Republican message is toxic. There is too much dishonesty, too much racism and too many simplistic solutions to what is a complicated problem. If the GOP wants to make a serious play for Hispanic voters in 2012 and beyond, this has to change. The party is struggling with demons. It doesn’t need a publicist. It needs an exorcist.”
According to Sharry, “Perhaps Cornyn really believes that he can have it both ways on immigration, and that Latino voters won’t bother to check his rhetoric against his voting record. But the fact is that when it comes to common sense immigration reform, Sen. Cornyn has far more in common with Lamar Smith, Steve King, and the anti-immigrant zealots that are steering the Republican Party off a political cliff than he does the Bush brothers. Here’s hoping responsible Republicans actually listen to what Navarrette and Latino voters have been saying, end the blame game on immigration reform, and work together on a real solution.”
America’s Voice — Harnessing the power of American voices and American values to win common sense immigration reform.