Republicans do the immigration limbo

30 Nov

Published at 17h35


Here they go again! After having their hats handed to them on Election Day, the GOP has clustered behind closed doors for some serious navel staring. After much discussion, they appear to have discovered what everyone knew all along: It wasn’t just the economy, stupid!

Women didn’t like being talked down to and treated like objects with men deciding what they can and cannot do with their bodies. Gays and lesbians didn’t like paranoid conservatives deciding the nature and legality of their relationships. Hispanics didn’t like being treated like second-class invaders rushing in to steal all the jobs all the Anglos apparently wanted picking tomatoes, plucking chickens in squalid poultry factories, topping onions, or, working the vineyards by hand under the hot sun.

In short, the Republicans discovered that when you craft your policies and your rhetoric to favor rich, old and xenophobic non-Hispanic whites, you become the party of rich, old and xenophobic non-Hispanic whites, which just happens to be a rapidly dwindling demographic.

Everybody knows how the Republicans ran off Latinos. They insisted throughout the entire campaign that the number one issue was the economy and job creation. It was. But it wasn’t the only issue. That’s where they went wrong.

So, throughout the primaries, the Republican candidates tried to out-right each other. With the exceptions of Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry, the field of candidates seem to revel in promoting a “boot-’em-out” immigration philosophy. They took turns supporting Arizona’s anti-immigrant crackdown, in all of its disgustingly obvious racial profiling glory. Mitt Romney came up with his now infamous “self-deportation” theory of making life so miserable for undocumented immigrants in the country that you want to, or be forced to if they want to eat, go back to where they came from.

And, just in case anyone was unclear on where the Party stood, the architect of the Arizona law, Kris Kobach, got much of the same harsh anti-immigrant policies codified in the party’s platform.


Apparently treating people like dirt, doesn’t make them want to vote for you. And — shocker! — there’s enough Hispanics now that you can’t win without them.

Worse, the Pew Research Center just came out with a study that shows that Latinos making babies. Babies grow up. And some of them vote. Enough, in fact, that the Hispanic voting population will double by 2030.

If they can’t win without them now, what will the Republicans do then — if the party even exists by then?

Well, survival is an important instinct, even for political parties. As much as they stuck their head in the sand, and try to work their way through this election in denial of the demographics, the turnout and the vote on November 6 was proof that none of them can deny anymore. So now, the Republicans want to change their tune on immigration.

“Just kidding! We didn’t really mean we want to kick you out. We want you to stay. But…”

The “but” is the challenge. The Republicans want to seem like they’re really trying to change their thinking and their philosophy about immigration, i.e. Hispanics, but what they’re offering up is, at best, a joke. At worst, it’s an insult. Most likely, it’s somewhere in between — either an unintentional racist faux pas, or a sloppily and thinly veiled political sleight of hand.

The Republicans have brought forward two proposals. One is called the ACHIEVE Act, which is their variation of the DREAM Act. The other is the STEM Jobs Act of 2012.

Naturally, the GOP is trotting out some of its prominent players to tell everybody what a wonderful bill it is. Including, of course, Hispanic House Republicans like Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart from Florida.

“I applaud Majority Leader Cantor for the effort he is making to keep families together through H.R. 6429, STEM Jobs Act of 2012,” Diaz-Balart said in an email statement. “The bill will make up to 55,000 visas available to qualified immigrants who have a doctorate degree in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Current law provides a visa only for the qualified individual. This version of the bill expedites the visa authorization process for their spouses and children, and facilitates the reunification of these families.

“By extending visas to the family members, we can ensure that these families stay together, simply because it is the right thing to do. This bill not only keeps these families together, but promotes innovation, investment, and research in the United States. STEM graduates create the new businesses that promote economic growth and job creation.”

Sounds great.

It’s not.

What the act really offers is a legal limbo for what amounts to less than a handful of highly qualified and educated immigrants in fields vital to the nation’s strength and growth.

What it offers is:

– legal residency, but no way of becoming a citizen.

– 55,000 visas, which is barely a drop in the bucket of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. It’s barely a drop in the bucket for the estimated 800,000 young undocumented immigrants whose deportations were halted by President Barack Obama in June.

– and Democrats insist it takes away 50,000 visas from people who don’t have PhD’s and master’s degrees.

So, cutting through Diaz-Balart’s biased partisan self-promotion, what it offers is little more than a feel-good snow job to make it look like the Republicans are embracing immigration reform.

The ACHIEVE Act is no better. Some of called it the DREAM Act Lite. But it’s really more of a DREAM Act Snipe.

Where the DREAM Act offers those young immigrants brought here as children a path to citizenship if they go to college or serve in the military, the ACHIEVE Act repeats the STEM Act’s limbo dance. they can have residency, but not become citizens.

Small wonder, then, that the Democrats are up in arms, and that the Hispanic Caucus on Capitol Hill has repudiated the bill.

“The problem with the ACHIEVE Act is it does not achieve the dream,” Senator Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) said during a news conference Wednesday morning.

Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez’s reaction to the STEM Act was even more vitriolic. He accused the Republicans of “loading up the measure with provisions that are a slap in the face to the core values of the United States.

“If you support this bill, you are saying that one group of immigrants is better than another and one type of educated, degree-holding person and their work is more important than another’s.”

If this is really the best that our political leaders can do, then they’re not very good at leading or in knowing what their constituents really want. It’s time to end the political games, and accept the political reality. It’s time to listen to the nation’s Hispanics and to understand that we believe in the American dream. And we want to make this country great, too, if you let us.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Obama’s Mexico meeting: Drug wars and border security

26 Nov

Published at 16h03


Most eyes are on Syria. It’s important. They’re watching Egypt. It’s important. They’re watching Israel and Gaza. It’s important. But while most folks are focused on the Middle East, a meeting at the White House on Tuesday has a much more direct and immediate impact on the people of the United States.

President Barack Obama and the President-elect of Mexico, Enrique Peña Nieto, are scheduled to discuss “broad range of bilateral and regional issues,” according to a statement released by the White House last week.

Translation: They’ll be talking about trade. They’ll be talking about immigration. They’ll be talking about turning the border into something a little more solid than the sieve it is now. And they’ll be talking about drugs.

All are interrelated. And, as pressing and overwhelmingly important as the tensions in the Middle East are, U.S.-Mexico relations and the challenges they face together are a critical national security issue hiding in plain view right now.

Undoubtedly, the Middle East is a tinderbox. And vitally important. The flare-ups there have global implications for a variety of reasons. There’s the oil, of course. There’s the Holy Land. And there’s the ever present danger that fighting there will spread to other nations and fan the flames of war far beyond the region.

But policy changes on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico threaten to upset the delicate and difficult balance that has kept the rampant drug violence in Mexico from exploding in the United States.

Yet, most Americans who don’t live directly along the Rio Grande or who can’t see the lights of Mexican houses from their own backyards think that the problems confronting our neighbor to the south aren’t worth worrying about.

Narcoviolence has killed an estimated 60,000 Mexicans since the country’s soon-to-be former president, Felipe Calderon, sent the military to battle the powerful drug cartels in 2006. But for most Americans, that’s Mexico’s problem.

They ignore the fact that bullets are flying across the border. They ignore the fact that drug smugglers are believed responsible for the murder of Americans on both sides of the dividing line between the two countries. They ignore the fact the bulk of the drugs — marijuana, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine — are intended for customers in the United States.They ignore the fact that the narcoviolence is one of the reasons Mexican immigrants sneak across the border with their entire families. To them, a better life means a safer life. One in which they don’t risk losing their children to kidnappings, murder, or accidental deaths from stray bullets or bombs.

And they ignore the fact that Peña Nieto was elected, at least in part, because of his promise to end the violence.

That sounds like a good thing. And it is. For Mexico.

But the means Peña Nieto proposes may pose more of a risk for the United States.

The White House knows it. So the statement Press Secretary Jay Carney issued last week, included tons of diplomatic code:

“President Obama will host President-elect Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico at the White House on Tuesday, November 27. The President looks forward to meeting President-elect Peña Nieto and hearing about his vision for leading Mexico over the next six years. They plan to discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues during their Oval Office meeting. The President welcomes the opportunity to underscore the shared values and strong bonds of friendship between the United States and Mexico. The United States remains committed to work in partnership with Mexico to increase economic competitiveness in both countries, promote regional development, advance bilateral efforts to develop a secure and efficient 21st Century Border, and address our common security challenges.”

Not a single mention of the drug. Not a single mention of narcoviolence or the cartels. And not a single mention of the concerns that Peña Nieto is turning back the clock to a time and a policy in which Mexico bought relative safety for its citizens by giving the drug lords free reign.

Which is why Tuesday’s meeting is so important. Free reign there means more drugs — and, very likely, more violence — here. Obama knows it. The challenge both leaders face is finding a way to stop the traffickers and end the violence, not just one or the other.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Mitt’s 47 percent “poetic justice”

21 Nov

Published at 15h22


We all know one guy who’ll be crying in his cranberry sauce this year. And there’s bound to be plenty of discussion around the Romney Thanksgiving table about “gifts” and “entitlements” and those darn “Latinos.” (Do they even celebrate Thanksgiving?)

But as the final counts of the Election Day vote totals continue to roll in, it’s becoming increasingly clear that, as Washington Post “Plum Line” blogger Greg Sargent put it, there’s some “poetic justice” coming Mitt’s way.

His final vote count could be 47 percent of the popular vote.

How’s that for irony? That’s the exact number of Americans he said weren’t worth caring about.

You may recall a video that leaked shortly before the election showing Mitt famously (infamously?) moaning about why 47 percent of Americans weren’t worth his time. They were moochers who just wanted government handouts – you know, welfare checks and food stamps, education grants and healthcare – because they were too lazy to work.

After it got out, people called it a “gaffe.” It wasn’t. A gaffe is when someone says, “Corporations are people, too.” (Romney again.) Or, to be fair – or, at least, even-handed – “You didn’t build that.” (Obama.)

A gaffe is an off-the-cuff slip-of-the-tongue which, in today’s frantically Twitter-speed world of journalism and pseudo-journalism, the media and the candidate’s opponents seize upon to embarrass and attack him with.

Mitt’s “47 percent” wasn’t a gaffe.

It wasn’t even a Freudian slip, where someone means to say one thing and inadvertently says something that reveals what they’re really thinking about. George H.W. Bush’s tongue-fumble about Ronald Reagan before a crowd of listeners is frequently cited as a classic.

“For seven and a half years I’ve worked alongside President Reagan,” Papa Bush said, “and I’m proud to have been his partner. We’ve had some triumphs. We’ve made some mistakes. We’ve had some sex – setbacks.”

(You can see it for yourself here.)

That’s funny.

That’s a slip.

That’s not what Mitt did.

He thought he was just talking to a bunch of similar-minded fat cat donors, so he could just open up and tell them what he really thought.

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what,” he said. “All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to healthcare, to food, to housing, to you name it.”

That’s what he really thinks.

And what does he think he should do about it?

“My job is not to worry about those people,” he continued. “I’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.”

So here’s the poetic justice part:

Believe it or not, more than two weeks after the election, only about 10 states have actually finished counting all the votes cast. Part of the problem is what are known as “provisional ballots.” Those are the ones people cast, but there’s a question about the person’s eligibility or something that puts them in doubt. The local elections office has to determine whether it should really be counted or not.

Well, the provisional ballots, it turns out, tend to be heavily Democratic. That could be more irony for Romney since one of the reasons there are so many provisional ballots is because Republican officials around the country tried to impose a bunch of new rules to prevent minorities they thought would vote for Obama from being able to.

They’re also still being counted in heavily Democratic states, like New York, which had its election process thrown into chaos by Hurricane Sandy.

So as more are being added to the final total, Mitt Romney’s percentage of the popular vote is slipping ever closer to 47 percent.

Tuesday, it stood at 64,185,237 votes for Obama, 60,099,431 for Romney and 2,136,965 for “Other,” according to Dave Wasserman’s “Popular Vote Tracker” for the Cook Political Report. That comes to 50.77 percent for Obama and 47.54 percent for Romney.

And Wasserman told Sargent that because of the way the count is trending, he’s absolutely certain Romney will finish below 47.5.

The blatantly biased Daily Kos has launched a “Romney 47 percent watch” based on Wasserman’s tracker, and is savoring Mitt’s slide with regular updates.

“If Romney hits 47.49 percent, his totals will round down to 47 percent,” the “Kos,” Markos Moulitsas, wrote. “It doesn’t matter of course, but it would be delicious irony to see him finish the election at that very famous 47 percent mark.”


The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

Hey, Mitt! Here’s a “gift” for you

16 Nov

Published at 15h24


Delusional? Maybe. Rationalizing? Probably. In denial? Definitely.

Mitt Romney needs a mirror.

He’s looking for answers to how he lost – and how he lost so badly.

But instead of looking in the mirror for answers, he has a new theory. Naturally, he doesn’t think he’s to blame. No. He says President Barack Obama bought the election, with “gifts” for Latinos, blacks, and the young.

Apparently he doesn’t remember how he flip-flopped more than a freshly landed fish. Or how he insulted people’s intelligence by trying to “Etch-A-Sketch” his way into the White House. Or how he tried to use his “magic math” and “just trust me” non-explanations on Medicare and taxes.

Instead, he said Obama used the “old playbook” of targeting policy plums as handouts for specific groups, “especially the African-American community, the Hispanic community and young people.”

Just like his infamous “47 percent” gaffe, his comments came to a group of fund-raisers and donors. This time, though, it was on a conference call with them, and with two reporters, from the New York Times and L.A. Times, invited to listen in.

“What the president, president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,” Romney said.

Then, over the course of the 20-minute call, he gave examples:

“With regards to the young people, for instance, a forgiveness of college loan interest was a big gift,” he said. “Free contraceptives were very big with young, college-aged women. And then, finally, Obamacare also made a difference for them, because as you know, anybody now 26 years of age and younger was now going to be part of their parents’ plan, and that was a big gift to young people. They turned out in large numbers, a larger share in this election even than in 2008.”

Obamacare also helped boost turnout of blacks and Hispanics for the president, Romney said.

So, in other words, Romney still doesn’t get that health insurance for everyone might be a good thing. That the plan he

gave to the people of Massachusetts when he was governor, which was – and is – immensely popular there and served as the blueprint for the president’s federal health care act, might be something people in other places want too.

“You can imagine for somebody making $25,000 or $30,000 or $35,000 a year, being told you’re now going to get free health care, particularly if you don’t have it, getting free health care worth, what, $10,000 per family, in perpetuity — I mean, this is huge,” he said. “Likewise with Hispanic voters, free health care was a big plus. But in addition with regards to
Hispanic voters, the amnesty for children of illegals, the so-called Dream Act kids, was a huge plus for that voting group.”

You caught that, right?


Not “undocumented immigrants.” Not even “illegal immigrants.”


Gee, Mitt, why didn’t Latinos vote for you?

Now here’s a surprise: Mitt’s catching hell for his comments. OK, it’s not a surprise that he’s catching hell. It’s who he’s catching hell from that is. It’s his own party.

Some of the most stinging rebukes have come from prominent rising stars in the GOP, who also happen to be minorities.

“I absolutely reject that notion,” Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said at the Republican Governors Association conference in Las Vegas. “I think that’s absolutely wrong.”

This, from a guy who was a surrogate for Romney during the campaign.

“I don’t think that represents where we are as a party and where we’re going as a party,” Jindal added. “That has got to be one of the most fundamental takeaways from this election.”

For good measure, Jindal also made what seemed to be a swipe at Romney’s “47 percent” comment. For the GOP to be “competitive,” Jindal said, it has to “go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent. We need to go after every single vote.”

Jindal wasn’t alone.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez also blasted Romney for his “gifts” comment.

“That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party—our comments that are not thought through carefully,” she told Politico and Yahoo, outside the governor’s conference.

So Mitt lost the election. Now he’s losing the love. Important members of his party are telling him to get lost.

But here’s a parting gift for you, Mitt. A thought. Something to remember.

Giving the American people what they ask for is not a “gift.” It’s their right.

The opinions expressed here are those of the bloggers and celebrity guest writers and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Terra, Terra’s affiliates, subsidiaries, parent companies, clients and partners. They should not be attributed thereto.

O-MG! Obama talks tough

15 Nov

Published at 17h39


OK, it wasn’t exactly a “mandate,” you know. Yes, the president won re-election, and if you check the Electoral College tally it was pretty decisive. But the popular vote was actually pretty close.

That’s not stopping O, though.

He’s diving into the congressional mosh pit like a guy with nothing to lose – which he doesn’t. This is it. No matter what happens this term, this is Barack Obama’s last time as president.

So he’s throwing down challenges right and left, puffin’ up his chest and trash-talking like he’s stepping into the cage for an MMA match.

Take yesterday’s news conference.

The president comes out swinging. He lays out what by anybody’s measure – even his own, probably – is a pretty ambitious agenda.

First up: Immigration. He’s doing it this time, he says. He’s already talking to legislative leaders, getting them started.

“My expectation is that we … begin the process in Congress, very soon after my inauguration,” Obama told reporters.

You could almost hear him saying, “Take that, Mitt Romney! You’ve been self-deported!”

Of course, it helps that the Republicans kind of have their tails tucked between their legs right now, after the thumping they got on Election Day. Those isolated voices in the GOP wilderness that talked about softening the immigration rhetoric seem to have finally gained an audience. Even House Speaker John Boehner says immigration reform is “long overdue.”


But Big O didn’t stop there.

He’s facing the “fiscal cliff” and saying, “Make my day.”

He’s got the advantage, again, because he knows that the Republicans know that recent polls show they’re the ones that will be blamed if the budget goes off the rails and over the edge.

So, that taxation talk – the “raise ‘em for the wealthy” thing – he’s sticking to it.

The Republicans offered up a possible compromise. They said they’d be willing to close some loopholes for the rich. But O said no.

“But when it comes to the top 2 percent, what I’m not going to do is to extend further a tax cut for folks who don’t need it, which would cost close to a trillion dollars. And it’s very difficult to see how you make up that trillion dollars, if we’re serious about deficit reduction, just by closing loopholes and deductions,” he told the reporters at the news conference. “The math tends not to work.”

And then, the gauntlet.

“The only question now is, are we going to hold the middle class hostage in order to go ahead and let that happen?” he said.

Oh, and the trash talk?

“If there was one thing that everybody understood, that was a big difference between myself and Mr. Romney, it was when it comes to how we reduce our deficit, I argued for a balanced, responsible approach — and part of that included making sure that the wealthiest Americans pay a little bit more,” he said. “By the way, more voters agreed with me on this issue than voted for me.”

Boom goes the dynamite!

Believe it or not, he wasn’t done. Not yet.

O is pushing U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state. Wednesday morning, a few hours before Obama’s presser, the man he beat to become president, Sen. John McCain, held a news conference of his own. South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain’s closest ally, joined him.

Together, they blasted Rice over her statements blaming an anti-Muslim film for the Benghazi attack that killed four Americans.

McCain vowed that he and Graham “will do whatever’s necessary to block the nomination that’s within our power as far as Susan Rice is concerned.”
O puffed up like an angry big brother defending his kid sister from the neighborhood bullies.

“If Sen. McCain and Sen. Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”

That was just the wind-up.

“When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she’s an easy target, then they’ve got a problem with me,” he said.

Rice must have been grinning ear to ear when she heard it.

O wasn’t.

Of course, it’s all a calculated political dance. The truth is, Obama has to move fast. The president knows he’s got a little political capital to spend, but that runs out quickly. And he knows the Republicans are smarting from the election and trying to figure out what they should be doing if they want to keep their party from becoming a historical footnote.

But they’re not going to roll over forever.

So O may be talking tough now, but if he doesn’t get the things he wants done in short order, he’ll be remembered as the first black president – who squandered his second term.

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Carlos Harrison

Carlos Harrison is an award-winning journalist, editor and writer of 14 books in English and Spanish. Born in Panama, he has covered national and international events for more than 20 years.

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