Last night, President Obama gave his final State of the Union address, and in keeping with a relatively recent tradition, Republicans offered their rebuttal in both English and Spanish — with one oh-so-slight catch.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart were each charged with delivering the same rebuttal in English and Spanish, respectively. But when it came to the topic of immigration and refugees, there were blatant tweaks to the Spanish-language delivery, presumably to appeal to any immigrant and Latino voters who might be watching.
ThinkProgress notes the differences in bold below, with Haley slamming the door shut on refugees and an offering an “open border” warning popular with anti-immigrant groups, while Diaz-Balart presented a softer, more humane “out of the shadows” wording. Haley’s delivery:
No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.
We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.
I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.
Diaz-Balart, meanwhile, omitted the anti-refugee rhetoric and instead offered a softer “permanent and humane solution to those who live in the shadows” wording, which was in turn missing from Haley’s version:
No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love the United States should ever feel unwelcome in this country. It’s not who we are.
At the same time, it’s obvious that our immigration system needs to be reformed. The current system puts our national security at risk and is an obstacle for our economy.
It’s essential that we find a legislative solution to protect our nation, defend our borders, offer a permanent and humane solution to those who live in the shadows, respect the rule of law, modernize the visa system and push the economy forward.
I have no doubt that if we work together, we can achieve this and continue to be faithful to the noblest legacies of the United States.
Still, it’s an improvement from last year, when Republicans briefly mentioned immigration in the Spanish rebuttal but didn’t bother saying anything about it at all in the English version.
Already, Haley is facing huge backlash from conservatives for warning her party about listening to “angry voices” — the always classy Ann Coulter tweeted “Trump should deport Haley” — but Haley’s ugly record on immigration (from eagerly jumping onboard the lawsuit blocking DAPA and expanded DACA, to signing an Arizona-like anti-immigrant law) should calm their fears.