Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarette, CNN Contributor
(CNN) - The scoreboard was clear.
Winner: 11-year-old Sebastien De La Cruz, "El Charro de Oro" (the golden horseman) who became a national story after he sang the national anthem at Game 3 of the NBA playoff series between the San Antonio Spurs and Miami Heat and showed a lot of a talent, heart and class.
Losers: The haters and racists who - displaying a lot of ignorance - hid behind the anonymity of Twitter to spew venom and attack the little guy because they thought that no one dressed in a mariachi outfit was certified American enough to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner."
ere's a sample:
"This lil Mexican snuck in the country like 4 hours ago now he's singing the anthem" - Francois@A2daO
"Who dat lil #Wetback sangin the national anthem at the #Heat game????" - TJ THA DJ@Tj_Tha_Dj
"Can't believe they had the nerve to have a beaner sing the national anthem of AMERICA #smh" - THE_GREAT_WHITE@bdub597
"Is this the American National Anthem or the Mexican Hat Dance? Get this lil kid out of here" - StevenDavid@A1R_STEVEN
"So illegal aliens can sing The National Anthem @ games now?" - Mr.CheckYaDm@DJ_BMONEY
What does it mean to be an American anyway?
By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) - Former Wyoming Sen. Al Simpson knows a thing or two about passing landmark immigration reform. My friend and former graduate school professor did it in 1986 with the Immigration Reform and Control Act, which he co-authored with former Rep. Romano Mazzoli.
Simpson knows that the endeavor is not for the faint of heart, or the thin-skinned or the easily disillusioned. It means navigating one of the wackiest and wickedest debates in our public discourse. The immigration debate, he likes to say, is filled with "emotion, fear, guilt and racism."
It is no wonder that most lawmakers won't go anywhere near the immigration issue. For those who grab the bull by the horns and wrestle it to the ground, things can get frustrating.
So began the education of Marco Rubio. The Florida senator is the de-facto leader of the Gang of Eight, the bipartisan group of senators pushing for immigration reform. Rubio has become the face of immigration reform. He is the most articulate advocate and the game's most valuable player in large part because he is charged with rounding up Republican votes.
Meanwhile, if Rubio were to withdraw support for the bill, it wouldn't just be a game changer. It would be game over.
(CNN) - You wouldn't think that gay rights would be on a collision course with immigration reform. After all, what does one of these things have to do with another?
Not all that much. Yet, the fact is, these two worthwhile causes are about to collide, running right into one another at high speed. All for the sake of politics.
Here's why: The Gang of Eight's bipartisan immigration reform compromise bill - "The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Modernization Act of 2013"– combines border security and temporary guest workers with a pathway to green cards and U.S. citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.
You've probably heard about how there are many on the right who want to kill the bill to please anti-Latino nativists. The weapon of choice seems to be the amendment process; more than 300 changes were proposed.
By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) - Every gang needs a leader. And what has become undeniably clear in recent days is that the de facto leader of the Gang of Eight is Marco Rubio.
The Florida lawmaker, and potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate, appeared on seven Sunday talk shows, discussing - in English and Spanish - the specifics of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that he hammered out with three other Senate Republicans and four Senate Democrats. The legislation is expected to be formally unveiled on Tuesday.
This means that, by Wednesday, just about everyone will be angry. Conservatives will declare the provisions of the bill too lenient, while Hispanics will condemn them as too punitive. Welcome to the immigration debate.
Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group. Follow him on Twitter: @rubennavarrette.
By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
(CNN) - "It's about time!"
That was how a friend and fellow Mexican-American Catholic responded to the news that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina had been elected the first Latino pope in the nearly 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church. It was one of those spontaneous utterances that, while not politically correct, was at least honest and heartfelt.
It's about time.
By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor
San Diego (CNN) - Did you think the Republican Party had cornered the market on racism, nativism and ethnic demagoguery? If so, think again.
That is the GOP's modus operandi when it comes to the immigration issue. In an ugly trend that started in the Southwest in the 1990s but has now moved on to the South and Midwest, Republicans have learned to scare up votes by exploiting fear of changing demographics and the anxiety that many Americans have about an "invasion" of illegal immigrants across the U.S.-Mexico border.
But this fear of foreigners has proven just effective enough that Democrats are now borrowing the GOP's playbook to advance their own causes.
Here's the difference: The voters who fear-mongering Democrats want to manipulate aren't so much afraid of what worries many conservatives - that immigrants are supposedly lowering our standard of living, changing the country's complexion and weakening our sense of national identity. They're more afraid that foreign workers - either here in the United States or even in their home countries - are going to take their jobs, lower wages, or prove so attractive to companies and factories that jobs go overseas.
In other words, the fears aren't cultural; they're economic. But the way that Democrats exploit those fears is still the same: racism, nativism and ethnic demagoguery.
San Diego (CNN) - It never occurred to me that the chant "U.S.A, U.S.A!" - something you might hear from enthusiastic sports fans at the World Cup or the Olympics - could be used as an insult. That is, until I saw (and heard) it for myself.
Before I tell that story, let's be clear. Chanting "U.S.A, U.S.A!" is fine; what matters is the context, the intent behind the chant. And that isn't always easy to discern.
It's great if the people chanting are just trying to celebrate a magnificent country. Part of what makes the United States so special in the first place is that we're also an extremely diverse country. The national motto may be "e pluribus unum" (of many, one), but Americans should always strive to cherish and celebrate those cultural differences that make us unique. This means respecting one another as equals.
So it's not so great if the idea of raising one's voice in a group display is to try to put another group of Americans in its place by implying - solely because of race, ethnicity, heritage or skin color - that they're not real Americans or "not American enough." Whatever that means.
That is when the chanting can become really offensive. Patriotism is one thing, racial or ethnic putdowns are another. In recent years, we've seen far too many examples of the latter.
In fact, recently, a group of students at Camarillo High School, northwest of Los Angeles, were ejected after leading a rally at a basketball game against a rival school. The students first showed up at the game wearing American flag bandanas, but school officials asked that they remove them. When they refused, they were told to leave the auditorium. They did, but defiantly returned soon after still wearing the bandanas. Then they whipped the crowd into a frenzy by chanting "U.S.A, U.S.A!" That's when they were asked to leave the premises, and report to the principal the next day.
(CNN) - All those who are hoping that comprehensive immigration reform is going to happen this year - Latinos, businesses, churches, agriculture industry, law enforcement and others - are in for a rude awakening.
The trick for politicians will be to look as if they're doing something, when really they're doing nothing. But, regardless of how it looks, it's a long shot that Congress will pass immigration reform this year.
That's bad news for those who want to give the undocumented a chance to get right with the law and develop a sensible, fair and efficient policy for future immigrants. But it's good news for those who resist legalizing the undocumented because they're afraid of foreigners - either because of competition with their work ethic, or that they're changing the culture and complexion of the country.
The problem isn't just Republicans, who can't get on the same page about whether they want to be reformers. It's also Democrats, who seem to be playing the immigration reform camp for chumps.
The signs are everywhere, if you know where to look. For instance, a few days ago, a draft of President Obama's immigration reform plan was leaked. It took four years to write, and yet its key points fit on a cocktail napkin with room to spare.
(CNN) - Sen. Marco Rubio was ready for his close-up, and he got it. Now you know what all the fuss is about.
Rubio, a rising star and possible 2016 GOP presidential hopeful, was picked to deliver the official Republican response to President Obama's State of the Union Address.
The selection tells you a lot about what the Republican Party has in store for Rubio, and what this 41-year-old son of Cuban immigrants can do for a party that needs to become more user-friendly for Latinos. His remarks were also delivered in Spanish.
Rubio's delivery was solid, his voice strong, and his passion unmistakable. The senator from Florida is an excellent communicator whose life experience - as the son of a bartender and hotel maid who worked hard so their children could get ahead - is easy for many Americans to connect with. In the Republican Party, there are the multimillionaires - and then there is Marco.
And the message that Rubio sought to communicate Tuesday night - about how making America prosperous comes from growing the middle class, expanding opportunity and protecting economic freedom, and not from increasing the footprint of government - came through loud and clear.
(CNN) - Being native-born means never having to think about citizenship. Those concerns are for immigrants, either those who are in the U.S. illegally and want a chance to get legal status or those who already have legal status and would like to upgrade to full citizenship and all the perks that come with it, including voting.
The deeper your roots go, the less likely you are to think about citizenship. Both my parents, three of my four grandparents and half my great-grandparents were all born in the United States. So I've hardly given it a thought.
Until now. I have written about immigration for nearly a quarter-century. I want an end to the deportation frenzy caused by the Obama administration and a chance for the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants to have a shot at legal status. Solutions to these pressing problems pivot on citizenship and what it should cost. More than border security, temporary workers, employer sanctions or reforms to the process for admitting legal immigrants, citizenship has emerged as the linchpin of immigration reform.
If you pulled together 100 undocumented immigrants and asked them how they feel about citizenship, you'd probably get 100 different answers. Some value the chance to become citizens, while others couldn't care less and would settle for a driver's license and the right to travel freely across borders.
Those diverse opinions make it difficult for reformers to know what they should demand in negotiations, what they should hold out for and what they should be willing to ditch if necessary for a deal.
What defines you? Maybe it’s the shade of your skin, the place you grew up, the accent in your words, the make up of your family, the gender you were born with, the intimate relationships you chose to have or your generation? As the American identity changes we will be there to report it. In America is a venue for creative and timely sharing of news that explores who we are. Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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