Why do media outlets label Republican Latinos as key players in the Immigration reform dialogue? I am sick of seeing the likes of Marco Rubio (R) Florida and Raul Labrador (R) Idaho advanced as somehow representative of Latinos throughout the United States.
Not only are Rubio and Labrador not representative of the Latinos in the U.S., they certainly are not representative of the Immigrants in America. Rubio with Cuban roots and Labrador born in Puerto Rico have no idea what it’s like to suffer in the United States. I would best be represented by a white man with a good grasp on the complexity of Latino issues than two politicians that have been placed at the forefront of this Immigration debate because of their affiliation to communities that have been labeled by some as being Hispanic or Latino, such as the Cuban and Puerto Rican communities have been. Rubio and Labrador represent and understand the necessities of today’s Immigrants about as much as Black politicians understand the needs and the plight of the current Haitian or African Immigrant. Just because the pigment of their skin is identical, that doesn’t mean the modern day black politician can remember or relate to what their ancestors felt when they were brought here as Immigrant slaves in the seventeenth century.
Rubio and Labrador are so far removed from the day to day struggle of the modern Immigrant and Latino, that they couldn’t possibly understand the needs or the intricacies involved with today’s Immigrant community. That detachment and their insistence on utilizing code words floated by Republican politicians and pundits creates a credibility problem for Rubio and Labrador. Your average Latino, and most definitely today’s Immigrant doesn’t recognize Rubio or Labrador as politicians looking to serve the best interest of the Latino community.
As an Immigrant from Mexico and as an active member of the Immigrant community in Arizona, I find it truly offensive every time I see a news story referencing either of these two politicians as key players. Why does the Republican party feel a need to pick someone who at best shares the same pigmentation I do to take the lead on an issue that affects my community?
Here’s where we can separate Rubio and Labrador and define them by lack of knowledge and extreme hypocrisy. Rubio is riding the political wave, and after years of trying to blend in to Anglo communities and political mixers with a name like “Marco Rubio”, he’s willing to be labeled the key Latino of the Republican party. It’s all about political opportunism and advancement for Rubio, who I’m sure aspires to be the first Latino POTUS. Rubio’s willing to take one for the team as long as he is accepted as “one of them” in the Republican party.
As for Labrador, we can go one further. Labrador is a blatant hypocrite. After working for years as an Immigration attorney representing clients who yearn to adjust their legal status in the United States, Labrador pleads ignorance when it comes to understanding the Immigration process. What else can I deduce when Labrador utilizes rhetoric like “get at the back of the line” and his comments during the 2012 campaign in which Labrador indicated that the Republican party needed to be an inclusive party, a “party of legal immigration.”
On his congressional page he states his position in this manner:
In order for us to have real immigration reform, our top priority needs to be to first secure our nation’s borders and start enforcing the immigration laws already enacted. To do so we must give our law enforcement officials the resources they need to enforce the laws on the books and secure our borders. I also believe that undocumented immigrants must return to their country of origin and then reapply to legally come to the United States. Finally, I believe that we need a guest worker program that actually works because guest workers play an important role in the American economy and more specifically in the state of Idaho. This guest worker program will not include a pathway to citizenship or amnesty.
Why is Labrador’s hard stance on Immigration hypocritical you might ask? Well, primarily because as an Immigration attorney for 15 years, Labrador claims to have had undocumented workers as clients. One has to assume that if in fact these workers were undocumented, they either stole someone’s identity, invented a social security number or borrowed a friend or relatives identity. In any event that would mean that Labrador was assisting people he knew to be in the country unlawfully in requesting a pardon (amnesty in Republican rhetoric) from a Federal Immigration Judge. I can’t think of a more hypocritical situation, one in which you claim to want legal Immigration, yet you are part and parcel to filing paperwork for undocumented workers to request a pardon for what many call criminal behavior. Can we assume then that Labrador feels that undocumented workers that can afford to pay an attorney like him are exempt from prosecution and do not in fact have to get at the “back of the line”, wherever that may be?
Fact: The Republican party is replete with hypocrites, and Rubio and Labrador are simply part of that same system. The difference is, the rest of the party is comprised primarily of old white men that don’t hide their disdain for Immigrants, legal or otherwise, Rubio and Labrador on the other hand lend themselves to being the brown skinned snake oil salesmen for the GOP.
If I haven’t made it clear enough yet, as an Immigrant, a Latino, a U.S. Citizen, and current President of the Immigrant Advocacy Foundation, Inc., I will repeat it, Marco Rubio and Raul Labrador do not represent us.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on Rafael “Ted” Cruz (R) Texas. That’s a blog in itself.
Carlos E. Galindo is a radio talk show host & political analyst conducting radio shows in both English and Spanish on four radio stations in Arizona. Mr. Galindo is a weekly contributor to KPFK 98.7 FM Los Angeles and has appeared on CNN, Univision and Telemundo as a political analyst. Mr. Galindo is also an Op-Ed columnist on Prensa Hispana Arizona. Carlos Galindo is a founding member and President of the Immigrant Advocacy Foundation, Inc.