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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Clinton’s DC Appearance with Latinos Interrupted

UPDATE: On Friday Clinton reportedly told Black Lives Matter leaders that she will put an end to private prisons, although articles about today’s meeting did not indicate whether her campaign would stop accepting contributions from the private prison lobby.

Focusing on growing concerns that private prison lobbyists have been collecting contributions to support the campaign of Hillary Clinton, a member of immigration rights group United We Dream Action interrupted the Democratic presidential front-runner during remarks she was making at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s gala tonight in Washington, D.C., both POLITICO and Buzzfeed reported.

Clinton was at the event to present an award to celebrity chef José Andrés. As she spoke, according to reports, Juan Carlos Ramos held a sign that read “Hillary for immigrants in prisons.” Ramos also told Buzzfeed that he chanted the following: “Hillary we’re watching. My deportation will be your funding.”

Ramos was soon escorted from the event, and POLITICO wrote that after Clinton presented the award to Andrés, emcee Roselyn Sanchez said, “That was real intense, my Puerto Rican temper would be like ‘excuse me?’” 

All reports said that Clinton did not publicly acknowledge Ramos’ chants, although about two hours later, her campaign’s Twitter profile posted the following video of a young boy asking Clinton about prisons and how her campaign would help “fix the prison problems.” The video clip did not specifically address the private prison issue Ramos was protesting. It appears to be a recorded tape that was filmed when Clinton was interviewed by the Rev. Al Sharpton in late September.

The Clinton campaign also tweeted out a photo of Andrés and Clinton before the award introduction:

Previous to that tweet, the campaign shared Clinton’s “Basta” (“Enough”) tagline, both in English and in Spanish.

In a statement, Ramos said this: “Our message to Hillary Clinton is simple: immigrant youth do not trust you. It is time to drop the prison money and stand with our community — you can’t have it both ways,” he said. “Each dollar of private prison money accepted by the Clinton campaign undermines her pro-immigrant policy promises, and our community will not be fooled.” Several tweets from the event added more details about the protest:


The United We Dream Action Twitter profile shared several tweets, including a video from Ramos:

To coincide with Ramos’ protest, United We Dream Action also launched an online campaign, where it calls for the Clinton campaign to “drop the prison money.” Part of the petition reads as follows: Hillary Clinton says she supports immigrant families yet still receives large campaign contributions from lobbyists for private prison corporations that profit off of the mass incarceration of people of color. You have to be pretty dirty to be in the kind of business that makes money by keeping people locked up. Corrections Corporation of America and the Geo Group are both THAT dirty. These companies own and operate hundreds of jails, including immigrant detention centers and lobby for tough laws that target communities of color that land them behind bars. Oh, and two of Hillary Clinton’s big funders happen to be prison company lobbyists. Other Democratic candidates had already spoken about private prisons. In September, Bernie Sanders introduced the Justice Is Not for Sale Act. When he presented that act, Sanders said this in a statement: “Study after study after study has shown private prisons are not cheaper, they are not safer, and they do not provide better outcomes for either the prisoners or the state.” 

Hours after the Ramos protest with Clinton, Martin O’Malley tweeted the following:

In July, O’Malley’s prison reform plan included a section on private prisons:

There are approximately 130 private prisons in the United States. They house nearly half of all immigrant detainees, in addition to six percent of the state and 16 percent of the federal prison population. These facilities earn the private prison industry $3.3 billion in annual revenue, backed by nearly $25 million in lobbying over the past 25 years. This includes industry lobbying to protect perverse incentives, the strict enforcement of sentencing and immigration laws, and contracts that require correctional facilities and immigration detention centers to remain full even when crime is falling.

As president, Governor O’Malley will: Phase Out Federal For-Profit Prisons. This includes closing for-profit immigration detention centers, while using alternatives to detention in the immigration context whenever possible.

A Clinton speech in April covered a lot of points for her prison reform platform, but no specific mention of private prisons.

Private prisons have been the target of immigrant rights activists for years, as this 2012 video from the now-defunct Cuéntame organization explains: The Cuéntame video led to a longer 30-minute documentary, produced by Brave New Films, new media company that focuses on progressive issues: Stories and studies from 2011 also focused on the rise of private prisons and its implications.

Featured image via United We Dream Action’s Twitter.

Marco Rubio and the New Cuban Identity

This week’s Intersection podcast from New Republic focuses on Florida senator Marco Rubio and how his presidential campaign is being viewed through the “through the lens of identity politics.” As the podcast asks: “How do race, gender, class, and other identities play into the candidate’s campaign, and the image he or she wants voters to buy into?” Host Jamil Smith had a very lively conversation with our very own Julio Ricardo VarelaAndrea Pino of End Rape on Campus and Alfredo Estrada of Latino Magazine.

When Reagan Wanted Open Borders and Clinton Didn’t

With the immigration debate continuing to be discussed during the 2016 presidential election cycle, I take a moment to provide you with a political history lesson. Here are two video clips from a 1980 Republican presidential primary debate. In the first shorter clip, candidate Ronald Reagan shares his thoughts:

Reagan’s comments came right after George H.W. Bush answered a question from the audience about whether “illegal aliens” should pay for their children’s public school education:

In 1984, Reagan reiterated his position during a national debate with Walter Mondale, his Democratic opponent:

Yes, President Reagan said this in 1984: “I believe in the idea of amnesty for those who have put down roots and lived here, even though sometime back they may have entered illegally.”

Those clips have been making the Internet rounds for a while now. In fact, the site I founded discussed this very same topic in a 2012 post (and revisited last month). Andrew Sullivan wrote a post in 2011, linking to the Reagan-Bush debate comments. In 2010, NPR produced a segment about Reagan’s immigration views and how pushed for 1986 immigration reform bill, which in today’s political climate, would more than likely never pass.

Ironically, Reagan’s “amnesty” talk was countered in the mid-90s by a Democrat: President Bill Clinton. Here is a clip of what Clinton during his 1996 the State of the Union speech:

A rare presidential ad from 1996 also featured President Clinton as being tough on immigration, while suggesting that his opponent, Bob Dole, was not:

Class is over. Time to discuss.

Tweet me your thoughts to @julito77.

Hillary Clinton’s Immigration Doublespeak?

Tonight on Telemundo, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton discussed immigration with María Celeste Arrarás. The interview, taped last Friday, was dubbed into Spanish (video below), but many outlets (CNN, The Daily Caller, Buzzfeed and Bloomberg) published several quotes in English about what Clinton told Arrarás:


When asked if she thinks Obama has done everything within his executive power to improve the current immigration system, Clinton cited the President’s increased enforcement of deportation laws as a mistake by the administration.

“I think he’s done a lot,” Clinton said, but added that Obama enforced the deportation laws “very aggressively during the last six and a half years” in part to get Republicans on board with comprehensive immigration reform.

“It was part of a strategy; I think that strategy is no longer workable,” she said. “So therefore I think we have to go back to being a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer.”


While Clinton said felons and violent people still need to be dealt with, she said she has met the wives and children of people who were deported over minor offenses. She reiterated her call for “comprehensive immigration reform” and a path to citizenship, but said, “In the meantime, I’m not gonna be breaking up families.”

“And I think that is one of the differences,” she continued. “But I totally understand why the Obama administration… did what they did under the circumstances. But I think we’ve learned that the Republicans, at least the current crop, are just not acting in good faith.”

Clinton’s remarks from the Telemundo interview are just the latest examples of a topic the Democratic candidate has struggled with over the years. As the Clinton campaign begins to proactively court the U.S. Latino votethe questions surrounding her views on immigration still linger. In the mid 1990s, for example, when Clinton was First Lady, her views reflected a much more moderate view:

Around the same time of that interview, a 1996 commercial highlighted President Bill Clinton’s enforcement-heavy immigration stance, even pointing out “a record 160,000 deported.”

Are voters 20 years later now seeing a Clinton who will be committed to comprehensive immigration reform, or are her latest comments just another example of “Hispandering?” Furthermore, will Clinton ever specifically address another issue that has weighed heavily on the U.S. Latino community: the rise of immigration detention?

Send Them Back?

Last summer, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked Clinton about what the United States should do to the growing number of unaccompanied minors who were escaping a crisis in Central America and crossing the border. This was Clinton’s answer:

“They should be sent back as soon as it can be determined who responsible adults in their families are, because – there are concerns about whether all of them can be sent back, but I think all of them that can be should be reunited with their families.”

“We have to send a clear message: Just because your child gets across the border, that doesn’t mean the child gets to stay.”

Earlier this summer, Clinton revisited the topic and said this at press conference in Las Vegas:

“Specifically with respect to children on the border, if you remember, we had an emergency, and it was very important to send a message to families in Central America: Do not let your children take this very dangerous journey.”

“Now I think we have a different problem. Because the emergency is over, we need to be moving to try to get people out of these detention centers, particularly the women and children. I think we need more resources to process them, to listen to their stories, to find out if they have family in this country, if they have a legitimate reason for staying. So I would be putting a lot of resources into doing that, but my position has been and remains the same.”

Nonetheless, the candidate’s call to “get people of out of these detention centers” is still at odds with a July 2015 article from The Intercept, which reported that “lobbyists for two major prison companies [the GEO Group and the Corrections Corporation of America] are serving as top fundraisers for Hillary Clinton.” These private prison companies have had a long history with immigration detention. A new VICE article about the private prison industry stated that “Clinton’s Ready for Hillary PAC received $133,246 from lobbying firms linked to GEO and CCA.”


The VICE article also added:

The candidates aren’t talking about it either: The campaigns for Clinton, [Jeb] Bush, [Marco] Rubio, and [Donald] Trump ignored repeated VICE inquiries about private prisons. But activists say industry lobbying may have shaped the “detention-bed mandate,” a policy that requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to keep at least 34,000 people locked up — mainly in private prisons — while they wait to appear in immigration court. It costs taxpayers $2 billion a year for ICE to meet the quota.

So which Hillary Clinton will U.S. Latino voters see when it comes to the immigration issue? The one who nows says she will be “a much less harsh and aggressive enforcer” than President Obama (‘The Deporter-in -Chief“) or the candidate who still has many more questions to answer about her own immigration positions?

What do you think? Tweet me your thoughts to @julito77.

What Bernie Sanders Told Univision’s Facebook Fans

As Hillary Clinton’s campaign starts pushing  “Latinos for Hillary” during Hispanic Heritage Month, the Bernie Sanders campaign has begun to address concerns that it has been out of touch with U.S. Latino voters. On Friday, Buzzfeed reported that the Vermont senator named activist Arturo Carmona of the campaign’s national Latino outreach director and political director for the southwest. News of the Carmona hire came just days after Sanders appeared on Noticias Univision’s Facebook page for an inaugural Q&A session that generated over 450 comments. Sanders gave answers in English, and then had the answers translated into Spanish. Here is a Storify of what he told voters:

Trump Cancels Forum with US Hispanic Chamber

Just days before he had confirmed to participate at an October 8 forum with the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), the campaign for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump announced today that Trump has canceled his appearance, NPR has reported.

In an email to NPR, the Trump campaign said the following:

Donald J. Trump today announced he will not be participating in the October 8th USHCC (United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce) Q&A, as requested by its President and CEO Javier Palomarez. Mr. Trump will be speaking to a capacity crowd at a campaign rally in Nevada on that date. Additionally, Mr. Palomarez continues to leverage the national media attention surrounding Mr. Trump to benefit his organization and exploit Mr. Trump to enlist additional support and increase interest and revenue in his coalition including asking Mr. Trump to join his chamber for a fee amounting to between $25,000 and $2 million dollars, which Mr. Trump refused to do. Mr. Trump remains committed to reaching out to the Hispanic Community in more genuine and productive ways as he continues to share his vision to Make America Great Again.

According to NPR, the USHCC said that the Trump campaign’s call for a fee was a “lie.”

Trump also told CNN that he had never really agreed to making an appearance: “This is the first time I’m hearing about this. I mean, I never agreed. He wanted me to do an event because he probably can’t sell tickets without me. Why would anybody do an event when he’s a negative person?” The New York Times also reported about the Trump cancellation, but made reference to a Fox News report where Trump had said that the October 8 forum “won’t be that easy of a meeting because you’ll have hundreds of people and they will have constituents of his and they may disagree with me, but ultimately we will all get along.”

The announcement came three days after Palomarez told Latino USA in an exclusive interview that the October 8 forum would challenge Trump for his June 16 comments about Mexican immigrants, as well as subsequent comments about Mexicans and other Latinos:

It will be my community that will be judge and jury, and what [Trump] does understand, and I made it clear to him, was: he will never see the White House without at least 47% of the Hispanic vote. It’s just ain’t going to happen. And so, I think he is in a quandary now. He’s in a quandary. He’s going to have to kind of pedal back a little bit and figure out what he’s going to do, but the bell’s been rung. Now he’s got to come and account for it.

The NPR story also shared a statement from the USHCC, which said that Trump has now changed his mind:

The USHCC refused to change the format of the forum, show any favoritism, exclude any issues or topics, or grant any immunity from objective scrutiny of his policies. As a result, despite having agreed on numerous occasions, Trump has now reversed his position and has elected to not participate in the Q&A Session — making him the only candidate from either party to do so.

The USHCC statement added: “Withdrawing from the Q&A can only suggest that Trump himself believes his views are indefensible before a Hispanic audience.”

Palomarez and the USHCC were criticized by several chamber members for taking a September 1 private September meeting with Trump, where Trump had confirmed to participate in the October 8 meeting, according to what Palomarez told Latino USA earlier this week. At that September 1 meeting, Palomarez told Latino USA that he did not ask Trump to apologize for his anti-Mexican comments, but that he would ask Trump for an apology at the October 8 forum. Palomarez also told Latino USA that no discussion of fees happened at that meeting, but when Trump offered the USHCC use of a Trump property for a future USHCC convention, Palomarez refused, according to Palomarez:

When we met, first of all we discussed the format of the program. He tried to make his point on the Hispanic vote. He talked to me about the wall. I disagreed with him on the wall. I disagreed with him on the deportation of 11-and-a-half million people. I pointed out that it would be disastrous for several of our clients and several of the industries we represent, like construction and agriculture and hospitality. He asked if I would consider using a Trump property in Miami during our convention in 2016. I said flat-out no. And we talked about the format of the program.

In his interview with Latino USA, Palomarez indicated that Trump would not get a free pass at the October 8 forum:

And we should not run from a candidate. We shouldn’t allow a candidate to get away with it. If we turn our backs on Donald Trump, we in essence are giving him a hall pass. And then the next guy can come and say whatever he wants, and there is nothing that community will do. That is not appropriate and it is also not the American way.

If you say something about my community, I’ll give you a chance to come explain yourself. And if you don’t, we’ll eat your lunch. It’s just that simple.

The reality of it is: for us to believe that by ignoring Donald Trump somehow he is damaged or that giving him the opportunity to explain himself, somehow he’s legitimized, I don’t see it. The reality of it is: he is a presidential candidate, and the commitment was to allow any presidential candidate an opportunity to talk to our community and explain him or herself. That’s the beginning and the end of it. We’re not trying to legitimize anyone. And I’d like to think that the Hispanic electorate is a little bit more sophisticated than that. I know they are.

Current polls show that 67% of U.S. Latinos have a “negative view” of Trump.

Hispanic Chamber CEO Addresses Trump Controversy

UPDATE, October 2, 2015: Trump has cancelled his October 8 appearance with the USHCC.

When CNN reported about a September 1 private meeting Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump had with Javier Palomarez, CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), it took many U.S. Latinos by surprise.

Just a few weeks before the Palomarez meeting, Trump was feeling the heat from Latino organizations calling for networks and brands to cut ties with him for the anti-Mexican comments he made on June 16. When POLITICO reported that Palomarez (once a farm worker) thought Trump was “gracious” and had gotten “high marks” for the meeting, it caused a bit of a stir, not only with Latinos online, but also with some of Palomarez’s fellow USHCC members, who were finding out about the private meeting for the first time through the political media.

Last week, Buzzfeed’s Adrian Carrasquillo reported from a USHCC Houston meeting that several members did not agree with a USHCC decision to host Trump at an October 8th presidential forum—the end result of the September 1 meeting Trump had with Palomarez. “I don’t see any reason why any credible Latino organization or leader would give Trump the time of day, much less a forum to speak to the Hispanic community,” one local chamber chairman told Carrasquillo.

The tension within the USHCC came to a full blow in the following video Buzzfeed embedded, which shows New York state chamber chairman Frank Garcia confronting Palomarez about the Trump meeting and invitation. At one point, Palomarez takes out his wallet and offers to refund Garcia his USHCC membership fee.

This week, I called Palomarez to talk about the Trump meeting and the controversy surrounding it. Here is a transcript of the conversation we had.

JRV: I wanted to focus the conversation a bit more specifically on how the press reports are focusing on your meeting and the controversy behind bringing Trump to one of your forums and not necessarily on the work that you guys have been doing to get these candidates in front of people, particularly with your series. Can you give me the history of how these candidate forums began, because it seems like that is kind of being overlooked, and I wanted to give you an opportunity to explain the timeline of it all?

Javier: I appreciate it. Thank you. First of all, the USHCC is the first organization to broker a 2016 presidential candidates Q&A series, a forum that it looks like now is being adopted by other groups. But we were the first ones, and the idea came about during a private meeting that we had with some of Mitt Romney’s allies and some of his close advisors, back in the middle of January of this year in Salt Lake City. At that get-together —and you’ll remember during that time, Romney was still weighing the possibility of running again and was thinking through whether he would run— we met with his advisors and we were told not to count on any GOP candidates to engage us or any Hispanic organization before the primaries because they were fearful that in doing so, they would alienate their conservative base.

About two months later, during our legislative summit in March, we had a great turnout. We had 75 members of Congress participate —40 were Democrats, 35 were Republicans, as usual, right down the middle, a good representation of both sides of the aisle— we [the USHCC] pride ourselves on that, in fact, [former White House Press Secretary] Robert Gibbs made the comment that this was the only truly bipartisan event that he had witnessed thus far.

But not a single one of the Republican presidential candidates was able to accept our invitation. And we really kind of refused, we refused to let our community go unheard until the general election and we publicly cautioned the Republican Party. At the time, the only announced candidate was Ted Cruz, and what we cautioned was they we hoped they [the Republicans] would not commit the fatal flaw of ignoring Hispanics through the primaries and then planning to belatedly turn on the charm when they needed us during the general election. In other words, we wouldn’t tolerate the last-minute Hispandering, as we like to say, and sure enough, it worked, because 48 hours later, Senator Ted Cruz agreed to do the first-ever presidential candidate forum of the 2016 election cycle.

In two short months, after meeting with GOP advisors, it appears that we changed their strategy and forced the Republican Party to come deal with the Hispanic community on the front end. And think about it, of all people, Senator Cruz at that time was the most outspoken candidate within the GOP and he was the first person to publicly engage us as a declared candidate. And he’s arguably the candidate with the most to lose in terms of alienating a very conservative base. So therein began the notion that you all have to come talk to us and we all need to sit down and you [the candidates] need to explain your views and unpack your philosophy in front of my constituents.

JRV: Have you invited every candidate? I know you talked to Martin O’Malley and Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, but have you’ve invited everyone and have they all accepted? What is the status of that?

JP: We have thus far have had Ted Cruz, Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders. On October 6 we will have John Kasich. Last week we had Jeb Bush with us. Then on the 8th we will have Trump. And we’re negotiating with Hillary and with Carly Fiorna’s people as we speak. Honestly, I don’t know if we will get all the forums done —they’re so many Republicans— but we want to get a good measure of the serious, those who are polling well.

JRV: So in an ideal world, you would probably have about 8–10 of these forums?

JP: Yes. That would be about right.

JRV: And the goal would be before the primaries would start or would you continue trying to have these forums during the primaries?

JP: We’re hoping to get them done before the primaries start. You can imagine that it’s difficult.

JRV: Yeah, I’m sure.

JP: Our goal is for our community to finally merge and emerge into the mainstream as Hispanics who are proud of their heritage and equally proud to be American. Our presidential candidates Q&A series is more than just about the person running for office. It’s about the process they have to go through to hold the office.

As an American Hispanic business association —which by the way, represents now 4.1 million Hispanic-owned businesses that collectively contribute over $660 billion to our American economy— our goal is to ensure that the voices of our members and our community are heard. Not only as the business leaders, but as taxpayers, as job creators, and ultimately, as voters, and those who influence votes.

That’s why we’ve asked the candidates to clearly articulate their views, away from the public spectacle and the newsroom and the debate floor, and just have a dialogue with us. This forum is really meant to set the record straight, frankly on a wide array of issues, Julio, that concern Hispanic Americans, like jobs, the economy, small business, international trade. Yes, of course, immigration, but along with that, national security issues, equal pay for women. I mean, the issues that affect all Americans.

There’s an inordinate amount of attention being paid to one candidate and to one issue, but the reality of it is—this is about the breadth of the field and the breadth of issues that this country is facing. And for Hispanic Americans to make history in 2016, we have to harness the collective economic and social and political influence that our community is coming into. That’s why the USHCC —which, by the way represents business owners from a very wide array of views— has really served as the convener across the political divide.

JRV: So let’s talk specifically about the recent news coverage of the private meeting with Donald Trump. From what I understand, seeing it happen at Trump’s office, would you think that it would have been a perception issue? I came from the corporate world before going back to journalism, it always seems that you want to pick neutral turf. Can you explain as to why you met at Trump’s office and not necessarily at another place in New York that might have signified a bit more bargaining power?

JP: First, let me talk about Trump and why Trump. I understand the initial shock that some in our community felt when they read the initial headline of us engaging not only Cruz, but now Trump. But I’d encourage people to see our Q&A series for what it truly is. Those who know me and know my personal story, know that I don’t take comfort in meeting people like Donald Trump, but it’s my responsibility and frankly, I can’t let my personal feelings get in the way of that responsibility to my association, to my community.

Whether or not we should ignore certain candidates is not the question here. Whether we should ignore Donald Trump or anyone else is not the question. The real question is: should we allow any candidate, including Donald Trump, to ignore us?

I think we can all agree that the answer should be no, and here’s an opportunity to get all the candidates, especially the most outspoken ones, to finally start talking to our community, rather than talking at our community or taking about our community or talking down to our community. It’s time for them to start talking to us.

And we’re not attempting to show favoritism to any candidate, but we also won’t grant any candidate immunity from objective scrutiny, and that’s exactly what he [Trump] and what everyone else will get. It stands to reason that really the more at odds a candidate is with our community, the more that person should be challenged in an open forum. These Q&A’s are not easy for any of the candidates—each of them has been challenged and rightfully so. And we intend to challenge Donald Trump just as we did everyone else.

That’s why rather than being at odds with the USHCC, we’d like to have our critics behind us, especially those in our own community. The USHCC would like to call all leaders to action. We want to hear what questions they think we should ask and make sure that Donald Trump, and all candidates, are hearing our concerns and heeding frankly our warning regarding the consequences of a late entry into our communities. The idea here is that we will engage all candidates, no matter how strongly we disagree or how distasteful their views are. As long as they abide by the format and agree to engage in productive discourse and a dialogue, then that is really our responsibility to the community, and we will continue to bring these candidates to our forum, where our members and our community can be the judge and the jury.

Now, as it relates to Trump himself, I happen to have been in New York, meeting with a few of our corporate partners —we have many in New York and I go to New York often, I spend most of my time traveling by the way to meet clients and advocates, we represent 257 major corporations, we have four million members and we represent over 200 chambers and business associations throughout the United States, so I spent an inordinate time on a plane— and it just so happened to be convenient to meet Trump in New York that week. By the way, I’ve met other candidates where they work before our public engagements. I’ve met Rand Paul in his office. I’ve met Jeb Bush in his office. I’ve met Ted Cruz in DC. So in that context, meeting Trump in his office was not a special circumstance at all. We’ve done that with others. But for some reason because it’s Trump, all of a sudden, a lot of stuff gets read into it.

JRV: You shared some details of the private meeting with Trump. Did you ask for an apology on behalf of the community before you met?

JP: When we met, first of all we discussed the format of the program. He tried to make his point on the Hispanic vote. He talked to me about the wall. I disagreed with him on the wall. I disagreed with him on the deportation of 11-and-a-half million people. I pointed out that it would be disastrous for several of our clients and several of the industries we represent, like construction and agriculture and hospitality. He asked if I would consider using a Trump property in Miami during our convention in 2016. I said flat-out no. And we talked about the format of the program.

JRV: So you never asked for an apology?

JP: No.

JRV: Ok.

JP: We will leave that kind of dialogue for the Q&A. For me to get an apology in private is practically useless. He pointed out to me that he believed that he had been mischaracterized by the media, and I mentioned to him is that what I saw him using some language that was amazingly offensive and there was no way to mischaracterize that. He assured me that I had listened to the entire speech or the entire engagement, that 30 seconds prior or a minute and 20 seconds later, it would have been put into context. I said, you know, you can’t put language like that into context.

JRV: So you mentioned that he offered, because one of the other charges —and I don’t want to harp on this anymore, because I do want to talk, I want to ask one more question and then talk about the event, one more question, about the event next week— but he mentioned that you could use or he offered the use of one his properties, which suggests that Trump was trying to, I mean, is that common, for candidates to offer, I mean, when I hear something like that, I want to ask: why would he be offering you use of his property for your convention? Did you find that request to be a little bit strange?

JP: It’s not common. It’s not common but most of the other candidates don’t own hotels either. He does. He owns a big hotel and big property.

JRV: That would suggest to me that he at least was trying soften the blow a little bit here, and, from what you said, you outright refused and there was no mention of remuneration or anything. It was just a straight private business meeting that said, we want you here in DC, I might not agree with you personally, but this is an important series for us. Is that the summary?

JP: It was more, if you want to participate, I’m here to hear you out. You’ve asked us to come meet with you. I was in town. This was convenient. Let me hear you out. Why do you think you should be in this forum? In terms of him offering the property, it was a simple offer and I said no. And he asked, “Is it because of the press situation?” I said, “Yes,” and he said, “I understand that and I respect that.” It was nothing more than that.

JRV: Let’s fast forward to next week then. So you’re mentioning that he might be coming into the belly of the beast, if you think about it, if you’re saying that it’s best to wait until you have him here [at the forum] so we can ask him questions and challenge him. What can you share on how will you approach this and again, will you be asking for him to publicly apologize?

JP: I’ll ask him to put his words into context and we’ll see where the dialogue goes from there. But I’ll give him an opportunity to apologize to the community which he has hurt with his language and to explain what exactly he meant because what we heard, frankly was bombastic. It was hurtful. It was erroneous. But like every other candidate, he will be given an opportunity to explain himself.

The reason why we decided to hold these sessions during the early primary season is so we can influence each candidate’s core campaign pledges with a pro-Hispanic and a pro-small business agenda. Candidates typically play to their own base during the primaries, so it’s very telling to see how much political capital any of them are willing to expend by engaging our association and considering our views. For example, during the Q&A with Governor Martin O’Malley, he made a commitment to attempt to reform the U.S. immigration system the first 100 days of his presidency.

And so a majority of his scrutiny really needs to take place before the nominee is selected because if he becomes a standard-bearer, as the standard-bearer, he’s responsible and accountable for the views and values of his party. And there are many candidates who refuse to show leadership and take responsibility, or at the very least, denounce some very hurtful language and own it. By way of example, Donald Trump just recently, he was in an event where one of his constituents publicly espoused beliefs that were not in alignment with sound thinking about a certain religion. And very, very inflammatory anti-Islamic remarks. And Donald just let it lie. In sharp contrast, you remember when Senator McCain had a similar interaction during one of his events and he demonstrated real leadership. He immediately and openly disagreed with the questioner and basically set the record straight.

And these are the instances where some would say, “Well, it’s because Trump is new at this, he doesn’t understand.” Well, if you want to be President, man, that’s what it takes. You’re not going to learn on the job. We want you prepared and ready to go by the minute you walk in, and certainly even a high school kid would have known that that was very inflammatory and very inappropriate and would have stood up and said, “Hey, listen, I don’t agree with that view.”

So I think that it’s important that these standard-bearers and these individuals who are polling well on either side be scrutinized so that their messages and their motives are consistent—their leadership is unquestionable. And that’s what we’ve done in front of us here. And Donald Trump will be treated just like everybody else has been. He will be challenged on his views. We’ll ask why he believes the things he believes. He believes he’s been mischaracterized—we’ll give him an opportunity to set the record straight.

It will be my community that will be judge and jury, and what he does understand, and I made it clear to him, was: he will never see the White House without at least 47% of the Hispanic vote. It’s just ain’t going to happen. And so, I think he is in a quandary now. He’s in a quandary. He’s going to have to kind of pedal back a little bit and figure out what he’s going to do, but the bell’s been rung. Now he’s got to come and account for it.

JRV: And on the flip side of that: I think that’s the biggest critique that I have heard, and considering that was some issue at the last [USHCC] meeting that you guys had in Houston last week, that this legitimizes comments from Trump and puts him in a higher standard within the Latino community, no matter what your politics are. How do you answer to that? How do you answer to the fact that you’re legitimizing someone? And this is not me, this is what people have told me.

JP: I would like to think that America’s Hispanic voters and Hispanic community are a lot more sophisticated than that. I would like to think that they can kind of see the difference between somebody being called to task and somebody being elevated. If anything, we’re hearing from a very, very, very, very large proponent and part of our community, and the overwhelming majority saying that this is the right thing to do.

And we should not run from a candidate. We shouldn’t allow a candidate to get away with it. If we turn our backs on Donald Trump, we in essence are giving him a hall pass. And then the next guy can come and say whatever he wants, and there is nothing that community will do. That is not appropriate and it is also not the American way.

If you say something about my community, I’ll give you a chance to come explain yourself. And if you don’t, we’ll eat your lunch. It’s just that simple.

The reality of it is: for us to believe that by ignoring Donald Trump somehow he is damaged or that giving him the opportunity to explain himself, somehow he’s legitimized, I don’t see it. The reality of it is: he is a presidential candidate, and the commitment was to allow any presidential candidate an opportunity to talk to our community and explain him or herself. That’s the beginning and the end of it. We’re not trying to legitimize anyone. And I’d like to think that the Hispanic electorate is a little bit more sophisticated than that. I know they are.

Image: Donald Trump (l), Javier Palomarez (r)

Trump Says His Deportation Plan Will Be ‘Humane’

Last night, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went on 60 Minutes and spoke with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley. The televised interview lasted about 17 minutes, but CBS also posted extra tape where Trump and Pelley discuss Trump’s immigration plan in more detail. The following is a one-minute clip showing part of that conversation, where Trump claims that he will plan to “round up” immigrants in a “very humane way, in a very nice way.”

At one point in the 60 Overtime video, Trump praised President Eisenhower (“he did this with over a million people, he did it, and it was actually very successfully done”).

For those who don’t know what Trump meant when he praised Eisenhower, the GOP frontrunner was referring to “Operation Wetback:”

The program succeeded in rounding up over 1 million people, most of them men. Just two years before Operation Wetback, the Border Patrol had deported half as many people. This new policy marked the beginning of modern deportation raids and the militarization of the border that we are familiar with today.

The U.S. Border Patrol…carried out Operation Wetback to respond to the unintended consequences of another American policy, the Emergency Farm Labor Program. During World War II, when the U.S. economy faced an acute labor shortage, the U.S. and Mexico established a binational agreement to import temporary workers to harvest American crops and maintain and repair American railroads.

Though the agreement was initially supposed to relieve the wartime labor shortage, American farmers developed a penchant for imported farm workers and had the program renewed repeatedly for 22 years. Between 1942 and 1964 the Bracero Program, as it was popularly known, brought over 4 million Mexican men to the U.S. through renewable six month contracts…

A post from the Texas State Historical Association says that on the first day of “Operation Wetback,” the government captured about 4,800 individuals. After that, about 1,100 people were rounded up on a daily basis.

A post by Richard D. Vogel for the Houston Insitute for Culture shares this about the program:

Mobile Task Force raids began in California in 1953 and moved to Texas in mid-July of 1954. From the Rio Grande Valley, the Task Force headed north to the mid-western states that had sizable Mexican populations. Though Operation Wetback officially targeted only illegal immigrants, many legal residents were caught up in the dragnet and ended up in Mexico just like during the sweeps of the Great Depression. In contrast to the depression-era deportations that dumped the immigrants at the border, during Operation Wetback the INS transported the deportees on busses, trucks, trains, and ships deep into the heart of Mexico in order to make it more difficult for them to return to the U.S. Unauthorized immigrants apprehended in the Midwest were flown to Brownsville and deported from there. Many Mexicans were transported from Port Isabel to Veracruz in crowded and filthy ships. The boatlift, however, was terminated when seven deportees jumped overboard from the Mercurio and drowned. Their tragic deaths provoked a mutiny and lead to a public outcry in Mexico. Deportations dropped off in the fall of 1954 when INS funding ran out.

It is difficult to estimate how many Mexicans were driven from the U.S. by Operation Wetback, but the INS claimed 1,300,000, five times as many immigrants as were displaced during the Great Depression. The San Antonio district of the INS, which included all of Texas outside of El Paso and the Trans-Pecos area, officially reported that it had apprehended more than 80,000 undocumented Mexicans, and officials estimated that an additional 500,000 to 700,000 immigrants in the district fled the country in fear of the Mobile Task Force. The exact toll of Operation Wetback will never be known, but the impact on the Mexican community was destructive. Again, as in the 1930s, families were uprooted and ruined and immigrant communities were destroyed. And again, as during the Great Depression, deportations to Mexico helped defuse the political time bomb of mass unemployment in the U.S. and rescue American capitalism.

What Pope Francis Said Today at the White House

Here is a video and the text (as prepared for delivery) of the speech Pope Francis gave this morning at the White House:

Mr. President,

I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.

During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.

Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.” Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.

We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home.” As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home. The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.

Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!

Read Maria Hinojosa’s Response to Hillary Clinton

Yesterday, Latino USA anchor and Futuro Media Group founder Maria Hinojosa penned a HuffPost Latino Voices response to a recent op-ed by Hillary Clinton, who wrote that “she will always stand with the Latino community.” In that op-ed, Clinton also wrote that she stands “with Maria Hinojosa, who founded the Futuro Media Group to tell stories of the overlooked and underrepresented.” Maria was one of several prominent Latinos mentioned in Clinton’s op-ed.

You can read Maria’s entire response to Clinton hereHere is an excerpt of what Maria published:

“…the real proof of Clinton’s stand with Latinos —or the commitment of any of the candidates for that matter— will be if they create access points for us to discuss the issues Latinos care about. Will they recognize that just like the rest of America, Latinos also worry about our children, our aging parents and grandparents, want access to educational opportunities, job training and healthcare, to support innovation, and we yearn for access to new technologies and new opportunities? We also care about families being torn apart, about US citizen children growing up in fear because their parents were, like me, born in another country. And we care about due process and the conditions inside immigrant detention centers.”

Read more at HuffPost Latino Voices.

Featured image of Clinton via Hillary for Iowa.




What the GOP Candidates Said About Immigration

The second Republican debate last night in California dived into several topics, but as expected, immigration was part of the discussion. Here is a Storify series of video clips that highlighted what the candidates said.

Featured image: screen grab via YouTube

‘It’s Just a Classic Immigrant Pattern’ (VIDEO)

Earlier today, Latino USA Digital Media Director Julio Ricardo Varela went on MSNBC’s The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart to discuss the recent findings from the Pew Research Center that the U.S. Latino population continues to be less foreign-born. We created a clip of Julio’s comments in the following video:

What do you think of Julio’s comments? Tweet him @julito77 and share your thoughts.

One Most Mexican Expression on MEET THE PRESS

Yesterday morning, Maria Hinojosa made another appearance at the “Meet the Press” table (her fourth in 2015). This time, during the more lighthearted Endgame segment, MTP host Chuck Todd wanted Maria’s thoughts about a new commercial from Mexican television for the upcoming Mexico-USA soccer game. The promo from TV Azteca showed clips of Donald Trump lamenting a lost America, mashed up with images of El Tri’s national players.

As she offered her explanation about the promo, Maria responded with one very Mexican expression, “Le sale el tiro por la culata.” (Literally: “The bullet came out through the opposite side of the rifle.”) Or in other words, Trump’s June comments about Mexicans and his follow-ups have backfired on the Republican candidate. The Mexican expression (common in other parts of Latin America, too) even caused Todd to say, “¡Muerto!” (“Dead!”) as the show came to a conclusion.

It is safe to say that this was very likely the first time the words “Le sale el tiro por la culata” were ever spoken on MTP. Not surprisingly, some people on Twitter noticed:

Not everyone, however, was complimentary of the culata expression:

Besides the Trump soccer ad, Maria also gave some advice to Hillary Clinton and talked about Chris Christie. The following video shows clips of Maria’s appearance yesterday:

For all you Spanish language enthusiasts out there, the expression “se le sale el tiro por la culata” is not an exclusive Mexican expression. It is also commonly used in other Latin American countries and also in Spain.

What do you think of Maria’s “Meet the Press” appearance? Share your comments below.

Maria Hinojosa on Brazilian TV: Trump Will Not Win

As part of a Globo News special about immigration, Latino USA’s Maria Hinojosa predicted that Republican presidential candidate and frontrunner Donald Trump will not become the next President of the United States.

“Donald Trump can say whatever he wants, he’s not going to be able to win this presidency,” Hinojosa told correspondent Jorge Pontual last week. “The numbers just don’t play out. And that’s part of the new America, which is, in order for you to win, you actually have to get the non-white vote.”

Hinojosa’s analysis is similar to what some Republican observers, including Karl Rove, have been saying since Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election to Barack Obama. Nonetheless, others who follow the GOP believe that Trump’s high unfavorable ratings with U.S. Latinos won’t have any impact in the end and could result in Trump winning the Republican nomination.

In addition to her prediction about Trump’s general election prospects, Hinojosa also revisited her comment that Trump’s “Go back to Univision” remark to journalist Jorge Ramos is an example of “hate speech.”  Hinojosa also told Pontual that despite Trump’s immigration rhetoric, “the Democratic party is not the salvation.”

“Neither Obama nor Hillary Clinton have said anything extraordinary, marking a line between them and Trump, and what he is saying,” Hinojosa said.

Here is a video of all the Hinojosa clips from the Globo segment.

Jeb Bush: Trump ‘Doesn’t Believe in Tolerance’

This morning, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush appeared on ABC’s Good Morning America to address comments from fellow GOP candidate Donald Trump, who said yesterday that Bush “should really set the example by speaking English while in the United States.” In the following video, Bush said that Trump “doesn’t believe in tolerance,” saying that “This is a diverse country. We should celebrate that diversity and embrace a set of shared values, and Mr. Trump doesn’t believe in those shared values. He wants to tear us down. He doesn’t believe in tolerance. He doesn’t believe in the things that have created the greatness of this country.”

When asked about Trump’s reaction to Bush answering a reporter’s question in Spanish, Bush —who speaks fluent Spanish and whose wife is of Mexican descent— said, “I laughed. I mean this is a joke. I was in a press gaggle, where people asked me a question in Spanish, and I answered it in Spanish. Bush also added that Trump’s comments were “hurtful for a lot of people.” Bush noted that Trump is “appealing to people’s angst and their fears rather than their higher hopes.”

Here is the full video of the interview:

What do you think of Bush’s comments? Tweet @LatinoUSA or me @julito77. You can also add your thoughts in the space below.


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