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Ruben Navarrette, We Still Like You More Than the White House Likes Us

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GOP koolaidTO: Ruben Navarrette

FROM:  Frank Sharry

RE:  Thanks for the shout out

Hey Ruben,

I read your nationally-syndicated column today.  Thanks for the shout out to America’s Voice and me.  As is always the case, your column is a must-read.  I don’t always agree with you, but especially during non-election years it’s my humble opinion that you get it right much more often than you don’t.

But, Ruben, what happens to you during election years?  Do you drink Kool-Aid with an elephant stamped on the packet?  Why do your non-election year columns seem so straightforward and so hard hitting while your election year missives seem so slanted and so tortured?

Now, let’s start on things we agree on.  You and I are friends, as you say, “at least three years out of every four.”

But, I vehemently differ on at least one prediction you made: we at America’s Voice are not going to drop you from the holiday card list.  Oh, by way of preview, this year’s holiday card photo will feature some of the 1.7 million DREAMers that are on their way to work permits and a future in America.  You know, the campaign led by DREAMers and backed by groups such as ours who publicly challenged President Obama until he finally had to take action?  I’m sure you’ll be moved by it.

Oh sure, there are some other things you say that I might quibble with.  Like calling America’s Voice a satellite of the Democratic Party, and accusing us of being more interested in electing Democrats than in helping immigrants.  Sounds like you’ve been mixing the Kool-Aid with some pretty strong hooch.

If you claim to know us so well, don’t you read our stuff?  You know we have been in the President’s grill on his record deportations; on his case about breaking his promise to make comprehensive immigration reform a priority in his first year; and loud and clear about the need for him to use his authority to stop putting people on a path to deportation that he promised, as a candidate, to put on a path to citizenship.  In case you haven’t been paying as close attention as you would like, here are just a couple examples: this letter we sent last week to President Obama and this note to the President about his powers to grant executive relief to DREAMers.

Fact is, Ruben, the only people in danger of being dropped from a holiday card list is us – by the White House.

You know as well as I do that America’s Voice is neither a Democratic organization nor a Republican organization.  Our candidate is “immigration reform” and our cause is legalizing 11 million aspiring Americans.  We’ll work with those in either party who support our candidate and we’ll confront those in either party who oppose our candidate.

You say we’ve been tougher of late on Republicans?  Right you are.  And for good reason.  The Party has lurched so far to the right that brave Republicans like George W. Bush and Mel Martinez, and once-brave Republicans such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have become so yesterday.  Today’s leading GOP voices are Lamar Smith, Steve King, Jan Brewer, Joe Arpaio and Kris Kobach.

You say the Democrats are to blame for the failure of the DREAM Act in 2010?  Wrong you are.  Democrats brought it up in both chambers, approved it in the House (with only 8 Republicans voting in favor), supplied 52 of the 55 votes in the Senate (sadly, 60 votes were needed) and the Democratic President stood ready to sign it into law.  Yes, 5 cowardly Senate Democrats voted against it.  Yet, all but 3 Republican Senators voted against it, including many who had voted for it in the past.  And the only reason it needed 60 instead of 50 votes was because of a Republican filibuster.  Democrats are the only ones to be blamed?  Really?

And what about Obama and Romney?  See any differences?  Latino voters who care about immigration do.  Don’t take it from me (I know you won’t, because as you rightly point out, I’m not Latino), but do take it from the polls.  Latino voters see one guy who would sign the DREAM Act and one would veto it.  One guy who is for comprehensive reform with a path to citizenship and one who opposes “amnesty” and supports “self-deportation.”  One guy who fought the Arizona anti-immigrant, anti-Latino law and one guy who calls it a “model for the country.”

Given that our “candidate” is immigration reform with a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants settled in America, who do you think we should be more critical of?  Sure, except for the bold move to provide relief to 1.7 million DREAMers, we’ve been disappointed with Obama.  But looking forward to the next four years, we’re terrified of Romney.

In any case, let’s keep the conversation going.  You have an important and independent voice in this debate and all of us need to raise its level if we are to make progress.  But as for getting together to pal around, it might be best to do so in the new year when you are back to feeling more like yourself.