Columns

Hispanic organizations court Trump, wind up with scandal

SAN DIEGO — One of my Mexican grandfather’s favorite sayings was: Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres. Simply put, people judge you by the company you keep.

When we last tuned in to the sad but predictable telenovela starring Javier Palomarez, the president and CEO of the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce was taking fire from Hispanics for keeping company with President Trump.

Once an outspoken backer of Hillary Clinton, Palomarez went from publicly mocking Trump during the election to later meeting with Trump staff at the White House. At one point, Palomarez claimed that he had been invited to join the White House’s diversity council. The administration denied this. And when Trump ended the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Palomarez resigned in protest from a council that it’s not clear he was ever part of.

Still, Palomarez was good at promoting Palomarez. So good that some thought he might be offered a position with the Trump administration.

It would have been a pay cut. In 2015, Palomarez’s reported compensation – including bonuses – was $611,015.

But suddenly that government job looks pretty good. Amid accusations of sexual harassment and financial impropriety — which came to light after a messy extramarital affair with a Latina businesswoman who sat on the USHCC board — Palomarez has been ousted.

And the reputation of the country’s oldest Hispanic business group — which claims to represent 4.4 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States that contribute at least $700 billion annually to the U.S. economy — is in shambles.

You can chalk this up to the #MeToo movement, if you like. But Palomarez’s troubles began when he got too close to Trump, which opened him up to heightened scrutiny.

A little context. For Hispanics, these are not normal times, and this is no ordinary president. Having gone out of his way to woo white voters by antagonizing America’s largest minority, Trump is to Hispanics in 2018 what Alabama Gov. George Wallace was to African-Americans in the 1960s.

Thus any Hispanic who aligns himself with Trump sacrifices his credibility and distances himself from the community.

A lot of Americans worry about ‘fake news.’ But if they tune in to cable TV and see someone with a brown face supporting Trump, they’ve caught a glimpse of a fake Hispanic.

Sometimes all it takes to end up on the outs with other Hispanics is to express support for a policy proposal put forth by Trump, such as his recent 3-for-1 swap on immigration.

The president has said that he will support legal status and a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers if he gets $25 billion for a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, the elimination of the diversity visa lottery, and an end to so-called chain migration.

That’s a good deal — especially since Democrats don’t have a serious counter-proposal. As a columnist, I can say that.

Apparently, one person who can’t say it is Roger Rocha, who serves as the national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens. After Rocha sent a letter to Trump in support of the swap, LULAC members and the heads of local chapters demanded Rocha’s resignation. Under pressure, he put out a press release saying that he regretted sending the letter. But he has not apologized for the content, which suggests he still supports the deal.

Meanwhile, Palomarez isn’t offering any apologies either. He probably should. He made mistakes, even if he won’t admit it…”

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

America’s Olympic champions come from many backgrounds

SAN DIEGO — If President Trump and the nativist wing of the GOP succeed in their suicide mission of cutting legal immigration to the United States, who’s going to win all the Olympic medals?

Consider the heartwarming story of Chloe Kim, the 17-year-old snowboarder from Torrance, California, who won the gold medal in the women’s half-pipe this week at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang. Kim racked up a near-perfect 98.75 on her last run.

Kim’s parents were born in South Korea and emigrated to the United States two decades ago. Every weekend, they made the five-hour drive from their home in Southern California to the mountains so that Chloe — who won her first competition at 6 — could attend a training program. Imagine what went through their minds as their U.S.-born daughter — secure in the knowledge that she had won Olympic gold — hopped off her snowboard and wrapped herself in the Stars and Stripes.

“I’m so used to America,” Kim said recently. “But obviously I have a Korean face … I can’t walk around people like I’m, like, straight-up American; … I’m Korean American … [but] I identify more with the American culture.”

Or reflect upon the inspirational tale of 24-year-old Mirai Nagasu, who leapt into the record books in the figure-skating team competition when she became the first American in Olympic history to pull off a triple axel jump. After making 3 1/2 rotations in the air, Nagasu landed solidly and flashed a winning smile. She told reporters that she awoke at 4 a.m. that morning because she was nervous about delivering for her teammates. She did. The U.S. skaters won the bronze. She also said, “I wanted to make America proud.” She did that, too.

The U.S.-born daughter of immigrants from Japan, who run a sushi restaurant in Southern California, Nagasu was for a time a dual citizen of Japan and the United States. But Japanese law required that she choose one or the other before her 22nd birthday. She chose U.S. citizenship.

Are these the people we’re supposed to be afraid of — legal immigrants like the parents of these two Olympians?

Trump, White House adviser Stephen Miller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Republican Sens. Tom Cotton and David Perdue think the American Dream is a zero-sum game. They yammer on about ending what they derisively call “chain migration” and argue for a point system that rewards “merit.”

The problem is that no one knows what that word means.

But I know what it doesn’t mean. Though this may come as news to people like Trump, Miller, Sessions, Cotton and Perdue, merit doesn’t mean being born on third base and prancing around like you hit a triple. And though Sessions recently let it slip — in remarks to the National Sheriffs’ Association — that what sends a tingle up his leg is the “Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,” merit doesn’t mean having white skin. And in depressed areas like the Rust Belt, merit doesn’t mean letting yourself off the hook for bad choices by claiming that you’re the victim of bad companies, bad trade and bad policies.

As the grandson of a legal immigrant from Mexico, I’d say merit is something along the lines of a monster work ethic, passion, optimism, determination, perseverance, fresh thinking, and the unquenchable desire to be the best at whatever you do.

Luckily for America, this kind of merit is transferable to the next generation. It’s time for Americans to quit our whining — and count our blessings.

The private sector gets it. A poignant 60-second commercial about the heritage of Olympic athletes deserves its own gold medal. The spot — for the online genealogy site ancestry.com — recalls the 1980 upset victory of the U.S. hockey team over the Russians in Lake Placid, New York. As it points out, the American players came from all sorts of ethnic backgrounds.

At a time when Americans have been infected by their leaders with the absurd idea that immigrants are ruining this land of immigrants, the commercial — titled “America’s Greatness Comes from Everywhere” — is a dose of penicillin.

Are we blind? The U.S. team at the Winter Olympics looks like a miniature United Nations. It’s the genius of America that it takes in throwaways and runaways from what Trump calls “shithole countries” and — in a generation or two — turns their offspring into the pride of the world.

You can see them honored in the days to come during the medal ceremonies in PyeongChang. You can’t miss them. They’ll be all decked out in red, white and blue.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation,” is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

Media makes political fog even thicker

SAN DIEGO — It’s hard to remember a time when a simple four-page memo caused so much trouble.

Depending on how you feel about President Trump, the memo in question — which was compiled by staffers in the office of Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee — is either a smoking gun showing misbehavior by agencies during the Obama administration, or a giant “nothing burger.” The truth is probably somewhere in between.

For me, the memo — and the frenzied reaction to it by all sides — provides a chance to reflect on how broken our public discourse has become and how the media helped break it.

As an opinion journalist, it’s not my job to persuade people to my line of thinking or act as a mouthpiece for either political party. Frankly, both political parties are driven by self-interest and appear to be filled with people willing to lie to cover up wrongdoing.

My role is to simplify the complicated, put the news in context, and help explain a crazy world. Yet I can’t even begin that task until I help clear the air by taking in piles of information from a variety of sources, and sifting through them to separate the helpful from the hogwash.

In recent months, I’ve met many smart people who want to be good citizens and stay informed, but they find the process of sifting to be so exhausting that they’ve turned off their TV. They tell me that they don’t know whom — or what — to trust. They just want the facts. And all they see is fog.

I get it. Taking in too much media can be harmful — to your sanity. We live in strange times where, the more newspaper articles and TV news you consume, the more confused you become.

Now we have something else to sift through: hundreds of texts between Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, those lovestruck and loquacious FBI employees who were chatting about the investigations of both Hillary Clinton’s private email server and alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.

The fog is unbelievably thick. And every day, there is more. What there isn’t a lot of is answers, only questions.

Like this one: Did the FBI and the Justice Department mislead judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court by relegating to a footnote in a surveillance request the fact that an intelligence dossier was paid for by political opposition to Trump? If so, wouldn’t it have been better to say outright in the requests — which started under the Obama administration — that the funding came from the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee?

Legal commentators — from across the spectrum — insist that this distinction matters and that the agencies should have divulged more information.

And on the other side, shouldn’t Trump supporters – even if they believe there was no collusion – be asking themselves why, in all the Trump-related scandals, so many roads lead to Russia? There are other countries on the globe, you know. Meanwhile, beware of all the misinformation that is out there. When law firms, public relations agencies, and political operatives start manipulating language, the goal isn’t to inform but to muddy the waters.

And the media only makes things muddier. Try this at home. Spend 30 minutes flipping between CNN and Fox News, spending a few minutes on each channel. Not only will you hear radically different perspectives on the same issue, but you’ll also see that the networks — who have chosen sides between the political parties — will often downplay stories that hurt their team and play up stories that hurt the opposing team.

Of course, media bias is nothing new. But, somehow, in the Trump era, it seems uglier and more sinister in both directions. The new norm — especially in broadcast media — is agenda-driven lobbying that gets disguised as journalism.

As a citizen of the republic, I have to ask: What happened to reporting? Why can’t news people just tell us what happened — the “who, what, when, where, why” litany that they used to teach in journalism school — and let us decide for ourselves what it all means? Why are they constantly trying to force feed us their point of view? And, if they are really after the facts — like they’re supposed to be — why not try to open doors rather than shut them?

Here’s a friendly reminder for my colleagues: We don’t work for the parties. We work for the people. And the best way to fulfill our duty is to serve the truth — straight up.

Ruben Navarrette’s email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, “Navarrette Nation,” is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2018, The Washington Post Writers Group

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

The immigration debate: Five things to keep in mind and keep you sane

As a journalist in the Trump era, I spend my days trying to drink from a fire hydrant that is spitting out news. For the last several weeks, much of the news has been about immigrants and the immigration debate.

1. As atrociously as President Trump and the Republican Party have behaved by flirting with the “-isms” — racism, nativism, elitism, classism — Democrats are not the good guys in this drama. Not even close.

When they’re in power, they deport, deceive and deflect. Over the years, they’ve militarized the border, built walls and conceived of a sinister program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) that offered undocumented youths (read “the desperate”) a two-year reprieve in exchange for turning themselves in to authorities.

They could have saved the Dreamers when they had the chance — and controlled both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue. But they didn’t want to adopt them, when they could exploit them.

 

2. Trump’s deal isn’t half bad. The president is offering permanent legal status and a path to citizenship 12 years down the road to 1.8 million “Dreamers” in exchange for $25 billion in border funding, an end to the diversity visa lottery and the elimination of so-called “chain migration” (read family reunification).

Citizenship was unexpected, and it was likely added as a sweetener that would make the deal irresistible to some immigrant advocates. It worked. The deal split the Left, between pragmatists and purists.

Meanwhile, Democrats are squabbling among themselves; some have rejected the deal because it came from Trump, while others see it as a starting point and welcome the opportunity to negotiate something better.

 

3. Republicans are also fractured. We see the nativists launching a backlash against Trump, slamming him as “Amnesty Don” for daring to propose a plan that not only legalizes the undocumented but also offers them — gasp! — citizenship.

When much of the GOP hears that word, what it hears is “voting.” Those Republicans fear the electoral spanking from newly minted voters that they so richly deserve after years of cynically portraying immigrants as dangerous and destructive to society.

But there is also a competing faction of the GOP that wants to put the immigration issue behind it, and it sees the Trump proposal as a relatively painless way to achieve that. How this tug-of-war turns out is anyone’s guess.

 

4. If there is one good thing about the Trump deal, it’s this: It clears the fog. Politicians will often say one thing but do another. But now, thanks to the deal, we see that some Democrats don’t really care about helping “Dreamers” get legalized and obtain citizenship; they’d rather weaponize the undocumented against the GOP.

We also see that some Republicans don’t want a single “Dreamer” to stay in this country; no matter the details of any accommodation, they’ll blast it as “amnesty.” And, by the way, they’ll be wrong about that. The a-word literally means forgiveness of wrongdoing. With “Dreamers,” who were brought to the United States without consent as children, there is no wrongdoing to forgive.

 

5. Both political parties need to put aside politics, give a little and work toward a reasonable compromise. Neither side will get everything it wants, but each side will get something. Each will have to share the credit, but then again neither will be alone in shouldering the blame from those who oppose the deal.

It’s easy for lawmakers in Washington — most of whom were born in the country — to minimize the life-changing effect of what it means to offer 1.8 million undocumented young people permanent legal status and a shot at citizenship. That elusive reality is finally within reach, and now members of Congress must seize it.

 

That’s a quick rundown. Trump drives a hard bargain, but at least this is a fair one.

Besides, Trump is entitled to dictate the terms of an immigration agreement. It comes with the office.

After all, as Barack Obama never got tired of reminding Republicans who came to him with demands over the eight years he was president, elections have consequences.

If Democrats want a better deal, they’ll have to reclaim the White House in 2020. Of course, professional politicians — who get paid whether or not they get results — have no problem waiting and rolling the dice.

You’ll have to excuse the “Dreamers” if they don’t feel the same way.

Ruben Navarrette — a contributing editor to Angelus News — is a syndicated columnist with The Washington Post Writers Group, a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors, a Daily Beast columnist, author of “A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano” and host of the podcast “Navarrette Nation.”


 

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

Dreamers neutralize the ‘a-word’

SAN DIEGO — Dreamers may have done the immigration debate a big favor by killing the ‘a-word.’

As they try to shoot down plans to legalize the undocumented, immigration restrictionists in both parties love using a certain term. For many of these folks, anything that allows illegal immigrants to lawfully remain in the United States — by giving them permanent legal status, with or without a path to citizenship — amounts to amnesty. Pure and simple.

So when President Trump recently unveiled a plan that would legalize 1.8 million undocumented young people known as Dreamers, it should have come as no surprise that right-wing media site Breitbart reflexively labeled the commander in chief ‘Amnesty Don.’

On the left, writer Mickey Kaus tweeted disapprovingly that Trump was offering ‘a big, immediate amnesty’ for the Dreamers in exchange for promised changes to legal immigration that might not materialize for many years.

On the right, conservative writer Ann Coulter wrote that the headline about Trump’s immigration plan could have read: ‘TRUMP ANNOUNCES SAME FAILED AMNESTY DEAL WE HAD 30 YEARS AGO.’

Coulter was referring to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act, which was signed into law by President Reagan and which ultimately gave permanent legal status and a path to citizenship to nearly 3 million people.

It still sticks in the craw of many conservatives that Reagan gave away so much to the pro-amnesty crowd — and appeared to get so little in return.

Today, a new generation of conservatives worries that Trump is likewise being taken to the cleaners — and offering a full-fledged amnesty.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, it’s worth asking: What does the ‘a-word’ really mean, anyway? According to Merriam-Webster, amnesty is ‘the act of an authority (such as a government) by which pardon is granted to a large group of individuals.’ Collins Dictionary of Law defines it as ‘an act of a sovereign power waiving liability for a past offense.’ And Black’s Law Dictionary defines amnesty as ‘a sovereign act of pardon and oblivion for past acts, granted by a government to all persons (or to certain persons) who have been guilty of crime or delict, generally political offenses.’

Do you know to whom much of this doesn’t apply? Dreamers…

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

Trump should stop enabling American “victims”

SAN DIEGO — I must be a bad American. At the very least, I’m a tad heartless and running a quart low on empathy. After all, until Donald Trump came along, I just had no idea that so many of my fellow Americans had it so tough.

That’s one of the takeaways from President Trump’s economic message, which has gone from a frown to a smile and then back to a frown.

First, Trump got elected by convincing Americans that they were in bad shape and that – due to trade deals, lost jobs, falling wages, excessive immigration and other afflictions — they were hurting and hopeless. Then, after one year in office, the president pivoted and used the State of the Union address to list the ways in which Americans are better off now than they were before he took office. Yet in the same speech, when he laid out his plans for the years ahead, Trump reverted back to his earlier gloomy mood as he talked about how government should come to the rescue because ‘Americans are dreamers, too.’

This is how bad it has gotten in this country: Native-born U.S. citizens seem to envy illegal immigrants for having lives that appear much easier than theirs. In fact, the grass is so much greener on the immigrants’ side of the fence that Americans want in on the action and a share of the attention. And, to get it, they won’t hesitate to co-opt a cool nickname.
We’ve taken a curious turn all right. For years, the undocumented aspired to be like Americans. Now, Americans want to be like the undocumented.

It’s easy to see how everyone got confused. Consider the false and malicious narratives that politicians advance about those who don’t have their paperwork in order. Supposedly, these people don’t have to follow the rules, either when they come into the country unlawfully or once they get here if they seek ‘sanctuary.’ They either don’t work, collect welfare and get tons of freebies — or they take jobs from U.S. workers, don’t pay taxes and steal what they need because, like all foreigners, they’re prone to commit crimes.
Democrats paint illegal immigrants as helpless children who are totally dependent on liberals and government for a shot at the American Dream. Republicans portray them as parasites and predators who take what they need from the allegedly better educated and more skilled native-born.

Either way, we are told, illegal immigrants are living on Easy Street while native-born Americans drag themselves to work every day like suckers.

Poor us. It really is quite a gantlet that Americans have to run from birth to death.
Sure, we get a free education. But we’re stuck in mediocre public schools without the luxury of a voucher that would allow us to transfer our kids to an elite private school at taxpayer expense.

Sure, for those interested in higher education, there are affordable options and financial aid available. But we can’t always get into the college of our choice — especially if we must overcome ‘reverse discrimination’ because we’re white.

Sure, there are jobs aplenty and ‘Help Wanted’ signs as far as the eye can see. But we have to compete for our employment — including against illegal immigrants.

And sure, we live in a constitutional republic where the people come first, and that’s something that a lot people around the globe would fight — and die – for. But we get upset now and then with elected officials and frustrated with our government.

Is this really as bad as it gets, folks?

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

Despite many errors, Trump has a fair immigration plan

SAN DIEGO — Judging from the most memorable line in President Trump’s first State of the Union address, it turns out that “Americans are dreamers, too.”

As Trump sees it, it’s his duty — and that of Congress — to “defend Americans, to protect their safety, their families, their communities, and their right to the American Dream.” All by keeping out immigrants.

Co-opting the phrase “dreamer” and applying it to Americans was a slick move. It was also a cheap pandering pitch to folks who think that those undocumented young people — who pop up on television and get invited to attend the State of the Union — are having all the fun. In fact, you might say that they’re living the dream.

Here I thought that many Americans were free to live their own version of the American Dream because they rely on illegal immigrants to do their household chores at cut rates. When people hire illegal immigrants, or use goods and services produced by companies that hire them, they owe part of their standard of living to illegal immigration.

The president doesn’t agree. Yet he has repeatedly shown that — while immigration is his signature issue — he doesn’t understand the subject.

Trump proved that again Tuesday night when he demanded an end to what he calls “chain migration” — a policy that worries many on the cultural right who think there are too many Latinos in the United States. As Trump put it — to groans from lawmakers — “under the current broken system, a single immigrant can bring in virtually unlimited numbers of distant relatives.”

That’s a lie. Over the years, I’ve spoken to many immigration lawyers who have assured me that there are only two viable categories for immigrants who have become U.S. citizens to bring in relatives. The first is spouses and children. The second is siblings and parents. And that’s about it. So much for “distant relatives.”

The president is also wrong that the main purpose of the U.S. immigration system is to serve “the best interests of American workers and American families.” The current setup, according to the president, allows for “millions of low-wage workers to compete for jobs and wages against the poorest Americans.”

Not so. American workers shouldn’t look to government to protect them from competition just because they’re afraid that — without government intervention — they would lose a head-to-head contest. Besides, those jobs don’t belong to the “poorest Americans” but rather to anyone who can claim them.

The president also incorrectly believes that America’s borders are “open” and that this allows “drugs and gangs to pour into our most vulnerable communities.” Maybe the U.S.-Canadian border is open, but the U.S.-Mexico border is militarized and fortified. There are walls, fences, sensors, armed guards, checkpoints, cameras, even drones. Is this what Trump means by “open”?

Finally, what would a Trump speech be without a gratuitous reference to MS-13? The Salvadoran street gang is the Trump era’s version of Willie Horton, the African-American rapist and murderer who entered the political lexicon in the 1988 presidential race when Republicans used Horton to bludgeon Democratic nominee Michael Dukakis. Trump’s default to MS-13 as a symbol of the crimes committed by Latino immigrants is just another cynical call out to fear.

Yet Trump has done one thing right with regard to immigration: He has come up with a fair and generous deal that deserved more of a hearing than it was given by the Democratic leaders who quickly came out against it.

And why did that happen?

It’s all politics. It’s because the deal comes from Trump, and Democrats don’t want to help his agenda along, give him any wins, or help him get the credit for giving 1.8 million Dreamers a path to citizenship. It’s because Democrats never really cared about Dreamers as much as they claimed. And it’s because Trump’s accommodation for the undocumented gets in the way of Democratic attempts to demonize the president, and the GOP, as “racist” and anti-immigrant.

You see, Democrats also have a dream. They aspire to get something for nothing. They want the votes of Latinos without the nuisance of actually earning them.

Trump challenges all that — and, in the process, upends the entire immigration debate.

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

Not all Dreamers should be granted legal status

SAN DIEGO — The entire immigration debate — over who comes, who goes, and who should stay — has funneled down to one thing: ending the legal and bureaucratic nightmare caused by Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

The White House is poised to reveal the details of what it claims will be an immigration reform plan that can win support from both political parties, and one element of the proposal reportedly will be a permanent fix to DACA.

This boils down to essentially creating a legal “safe space” for undocumented young people who are DACA recipients, whose personal information went into a government database, and who are at risk of being deported when the program expires in March.

So it’s time to make clear that there is a big difference between the nearly 700,000 DACA recipients and the estimated 2.9 million Dreamers who don’t have DACA protection — because they did not apply, or applied but didn’t qualify.

All of these undocumented people have at least one thing in common: They were brought to the United States as children through no fault of their own. Thus Democrats want them all treated the same and given the same benefit: permanent legal status with a quick and automatic pathway to citizenship.

No such luck. The White House isn’t offering what the Democrats were looking for. That can’t be a surprise. The very fact that President Trump is considering any accommodations for Dreamers has already caused a firestorm from the nativist wing of the GOP. That’s where you’ll find simpletons arguing that anything that lets an undocumented person remain in the United States is — gasp! — “amnesty.” In fact, Breitbart is calling the president “Amnesty Don.”

Someone needs a dictionary. Amnesty means escaping accountability. And — whatever the final legislative remedy for DACA recipients — you can bet it’ll be saturated with accountability. Besides, DACA has always been all about holding recipients accountable: requiring them to turn themselves in, get fingerprinted and photographed, hand over their home address and other personal information, etc.

The furthest the White House appears willing to go is to offer 1.8 million Dreamers — or about half of the 3.6 million total undocumented immigrants who arrived under age 18 — permanent legal status and a long road to “earned” citizenship. Trump is said to be offering citizenship after 10-12 years. In exchange, the president wants an end to so-called chain migration, the elimination of the diversity lottery, and $25 billion to build his “big beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border.

To buy into this plan, Republicans will need to have faith that 10-12 years is enough time for young people to get over their hatred of the GOP so these newly minted citizens will not simply vote Democratic in perpetuity.

That gamble could pay off, given how badly Democrats have disappointed the Dreamers by overpromising and underdelivering.

The more delicate question is who should get legalized. And here again, the Democrats ask for too much by proposing an across-the-board accommodation for all undocumented young people.

I’m all for giving DACA recipients legal status and a pathway to citizenship – which should not be automatic, but earned. It means something to be a U.S. citizen, and it should be worked toward.

But, for me, that’s where it ends. I’m not in favor of giving legal status to the entire universe of Dreamers — all 3.6 million of them.

It’s not fair to legalize hundreds of thousands of people who didn’t go through background checks, didn’t take a risk in coming forward, and didn’t lose sleep over whether they were going to be deported by the Trump administration. Those folks just hung back, and let this tense drama play out. Now that a resolution may be in sight, they can’t just ride the coattails of those who went the extra mile and put their trust in America to do the right thing.

And speaking of America, the concept of risk-taking is in the DNA of this place. It’s what immigrants do. It’s what the parents of these people did in coming here — even if it was illegally. We ought to honor those who stiffen their spine and take risks. And we should not go out of our way to accommodate those who play it safe — and then have the gall to come around and expect a share of the bounty.

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

Dreamers wake up to reality that Democrats stand for nothing

What ended the government shutdown after only two-and-a-half days?

My vote goes to a devastating 30-second ad that arrived on the scene with the subtlety of an airstrike.

“Democrats.” “Murder.” “Illegal immigrants.”

Those radioactive buzzwords — which were featured in the spot released by President Trump’s re-election campaign just a few hours into the stalemate and echoed by Republican operatives elsewhere — likely brought the shutdown to a screeching halt.

The video — titled “Complicit” — only appeared online. But with social media, that’s good enough. Besides, Republican sources said the ad was slated to hit TV airwaves in the coming days. This prospect must have terrified Democrats.

It’s easy to see why. Against the backdrop of the U.S.-Mexico border and illegal immigrants led away in handcuffs, we see footage of undocumented immigrant Luis Bracamontes, the unrepentant killer of two police officers in 2014, whom the ad labels “pure evil.” The voiceover spells out Trump’s overly simplistic approach to combating such evil — which includes building the border wall. At the moment, Trump is fixated on border enforcement and ending so-called “chain migration.” Then we see images of three prominent Democrats — House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois. Finally, the narrator delivers the knockout punch: “Democrats who stand in our way will be complicit in every murder committed by illegal immigrants.”

The ad — which was the subject of chatter on conservative radio shows and cable TV — was unfair and untrue.

There is no guarantee that building a border wall and stopping the policy of family reunification will keep out immigrants who are “pure evil.” And what about people who come with honorable intentions, but then turn to crime after many years of living in the United States? Should we keep them out, too?

The ad was also cynical to the point of being sinister.

It’s ridiculous to blame Democrats for the evil acts of some of the undocumented just because lawmakers insist on having a say about who should come to the United States legally and what sort of border enforcement will stop those who come illegally.

That’s not called complicity. It’s called democracy.

If we play that game, I could submit that Republicans are to blame for murders committed by illegal immigrants because many GOP lawmakers accept campaign contributions from individuals and companies that put out the “Help Wanted” signs that lure illegal immigrants to this country in the first place. At that suggestion, conservatives would yell “foul.”

But boy, was the ad effective. Democrats seem to have quickly decided they wanted no part of any suggestion that they condoned or contributed to murders committed by illegal immigrants. So they caved. And the shutdown was over.

The poster boy for both the shutdown and the cave-in was Schumer, who is a hot mess on the immigration issue.

One minute, he’s vowing to protect recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) from being deported when the program expires in March by giving them legal status.

The next minute, Schumer is trying to seem reasonable to mainstream voters by telling reporters that he agreed to the funding that Trump asked for to build his “big beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border; while the senator wouldn’t reveal the actual figure, two Republican senators said Trump and Schumer considered a $25 billion package.

The minute after that, Schumer gives in and walks away with nothing — except a promise by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that the Senate will address DACA down the line.

A promise, eh? Former President Obama promised to prioritize comprehensive immigration reform. How did that turn out?

And then, after Schumer was hammered by progressives and immigrant rights groups for folding under pressure, he makes an abrupt U-turn and insists that the funding for the wall is off the table. He may have just sunk the chances for DACA relief.

All this back-and-forth tells you everything you need to know about where Democrats like Schumer really stand on the immigration debate — as opposed to where they want various groups to think they stand.

They stand on the defensive. They stand with their own interests. They stand in fear of being perceived as weak on border security. They stand several steps behind the Dreamers, as the followers have become the leaders. They stand conflicted, trying to please everyone and anger no one. And so they stand on the periphery of this national dialogue, somewhere between incompetence and irrelevance.

Given that, why in the world would the DACA recipients — or anyone else — want to stand with them?

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns

Big media fails

SAN DIEGO — The last few weeks of wall-to-wall coverage of the immigration debate by newspapers, talk radio and TV news convinced me of three things:

  • The ignorance about immigrants in the East Coast media capitals of New York and Washington D.C. is widespread and profound;
  • The debate is crying out for more honesty, nuance and common sense, and less partisan cheerleading; and
  • Latinos, most notably Mexicans and Mexican-Americans, often have a deeper understanding of the immigration issue than non-Latinos.

Let’s kick around that last one for a bit. And before you take offense, maybe you’d also like to argue that women don’t have a better grasp than men of sexual harassment and other issues involved in the #MeToo movement. While we’re at it, anyone want to suggest that African-Americans don’t have special insight into the #BlackLivesMatter crusade?

Now that we’ve settled that, why do you suppose Latinos have such a firm grasp of the realities in the immigration debate?

According to research by the Pew Hispanic Center, we’re more likely to know — and, in some cases, even be related to — individuals who are undocumented or who have been deported. We know firsthand how hard immigrants work, and we have no illusions as to how grueling these jobs can be — either because we’ve done them ourselves or we saw our parents do them. We also know that — when it comes to racism, nativism and anti-Latino bigotry, both subtle and overt — the struggle is real.

Which raises an obvious question: If the media really values “experts” as much as it claims, why aren’t more Latino journalists, pundits and policymakers invited onto talk radio, TV shows or newspaper op-ed pages to discuss immigration?

I’ve lost count of how many roundtable discussions I’ve seen on television news programs where immigration is being discussed and there is not a single Latino at the table.

I get calls every week from frustrated Latino professionals who have noticed the same thing. They say much of the media is either blind or engaged in something more malicious: a “brownout.”

Oh, here and there, you’ll find a few Latino faces on television — Fox News contributor Steve Cortes and CNN contributors Ana Navarro and Maria Cardona among them. But their views are often predictable, and fall in line with what producers are expecting when they book them.

Believe it or not, the nation’s 58 million Latinos — representing America’s largest minority — are complicated. They’re not as one-dimensional as you would think from hearing the extreme views of a handful of pundits on cable news.

It may make for good television to have Fox News host Tucker Carlson — who has abandoned what used to be moderate views and morphed into one of the most openly anti-immigrant voices on television — bicker with Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, an activist impersonating a journalist who seems comfortable with the idea of an open border and zero deportations. But the debate — and the nation — gain nothing.

A Latino policy analyst, and former television commentator, told me the media brownout is a result of producers, bookers and editors not having enough colors in their crayon boxes.

“This is a black-and-white world,” he said. “There is no room for us. I blame white liberals for that, because they’re the ones who run the media. It’s to the black community that they feel their strongest connection because that’s where they feel their greatest guilt — over how blacks have been treated.”

It doesn’t help that Latinos, he said, are used to being ignored, neglected and passed over. So we don’t make a fuss.

“We were taught growing up to go along to get along,” he said. “We’re a quiet, hardworking group that you don’t notice when you walk into a room. We’re cleaning up, and serving drinks. But guess what? They’ll sure notice us when we’re gone.”

That’s not bad. But I have another theory: When it comes to the media, Latinos are trapped in a Catch-22. A lot of the people who decide who goes on the air, or onto newspaper op-ed pages, think that Latinos can only talk about immigration. Of course, they also think we’re not so good at talking about immigration because we’re too close to the subject, too emotional and too biased. We can’t win either way.

Thus, Americans can expect the brownout to continue for a while longer, along with traditional media’s gradual descent into the darkness of total irrelevance.

Posted by Ruben Navarrette in Columns