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GOP Speech Talks Immigration Reform — But Only in Spanish Language Version

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Who does the GOP think it’s kidding?

For the GOP and immigration, it’s bad enough that Steve King once again made headlines yesterday by calling a DREAMer and honored guest of the First Lady a “deportable.”  But the Republican Party added insult to insult by subtly changing the Spanish translation of its response to Obama to include a brief mention of immigration reform.  Do they not really not believe that Latinos speak English as well?  Latino communities realize what wasn’t in the original speech!

Let’s back it up a few steps: yesterday, President Obama gave his sixth State of the Union speech.  Freshman Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) gave the Republican rebuttal to Obama.  Ernst’s speech was translated into Spanish and delivered by freshman Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL).  That alone was a bit awkward because 1) Ernst’s speech relied heavily on anecdotes from Iowa, which obviously Curbelo couldn’t repeat, and 2) Ernst has long been a proponent of English-only government communications.

On top of that, Curbelo’s translation, as pointed out by American Bridge, included a few lines referring to immigration reform that were not in the Ernst original.

We should work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions to our immigration system, modernize legal immigration, and strengthen our economy.

From there, Curbelo went back to Ernst’s speech, saying: “In the past, the President has expressed support for ideas like these; now we ask him to collaborate with us to get it done.”

Today, the GOP is being severely mocked for the discrepancy — did they really think no one would notice?  They were caught trying to use an issue to blatantly pander to Latino voters while ignoring that same issue in English.  And now they’re in the hot seat with not only the constituency they’re trying to reach out to (Latinos), they’re in trouble with their base for not being harsher on immigration in English and sneaking in references to reform in Spanish.  Latinos do understand English, and apparently, Tea Partiers do pay attention to translated Spanish.

This whole thing is emblematic of the GOP’s position being stuck between a rock and a hard place on immigration. This was demonstrated today by RNC Chair Reince Priebus, who couldn’t explain the different versions of the speech:

HOST: Can you explain what happened?

Reince Priebus: I don’t know.


The GOP is desperate to please their base, but they know they have to reach out to Latino and minority voters.  Eventually, they are going to have to pick a side.  And which one they pick will have enormous consequences for their future as a national party.