.
January 17th, 2013
10:35 AM ET

Opinion: Solve immigration without a quick path to citizenship

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) - What is President Obama up to? When it comes to immigration, it's usually no good.

After all, this is the same president who ran for re-election packaged as a kinder and gentler alternative to cold-hearted Republicans who wanted illegal immigrants to "self deport" while, back at the ranch, the Department of Homeland Security was removing illegal immigrants 24/7 at a record pace. In the 2012 fiscal year that ended September 30, an unprecedented 409,849 people were deported. This was an increase from the previous year and it occurred despite policy changes - i.e., those spelled out in the March 2011 memo by Immigration and Customs Enforcement Director John Morton urging prosecutorial discretion - that were supposedly going to limit removals to hardened criminals.

In four years, the administration has removed a record 1.5 million illegal immigrants. And while administration officials may insist that many of them were guilty of felonies and thus less sympathetic, they leave out that under current law, a nanny or gardener who is deported and simply re-enters the country is a felon.

But there are two bright spots in Obama's immigration record. Last summer, the White House announced a policy change that lets undocumented young people avoid deportation by applying for deferred action and two-year work permits. And last month, in a much more obscure change, the administration said it would ease requirements to help undocumented immigrants who seek permanent residency and must return to their home countries to do so.

These folks currently have to wait up to 10 years outside the United States before being able to legally re-enter. But there is a waiver that gives them permission to return to the United States sooner if their U.S.-based families would suffer an extreme hardship from the separation. Under the change, immigrants can remain in the United States while applying for that waiver.

Now Obama wants to go further.

Read Navarette's full column

Opinion: Latino should have played lead in 'Argo'
Ben Affleck plays the lead role of Tony Mendez in "Argo," which he also directed.
January 9th, 2013
06:33 PM ET

Opinion: Latino should have played lead in 'Argo'

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

San Diego, California (CNN) - The upcoming Oscars are no stranger to causes or controversy. And this year, there is a strong dose of both surrounding the film "Argo" - and its star and director, Ben Affleck.

This controversy bubbled up when the buzz started that Affleck could get an Academy Award nomination for best director when the announcements are made Thursday.

"Argo" tells how an ingenious and daring CIA agent helped orchestrate the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-1980. In November 1979, about 300 Islamic students stormed the U.S. Embassy and 66 Americans were taken hostage. But six U.S. diplomats escaped and were hidden at the Canadian Embassy by the Canadian ambassador and his wife.

The CIA agent - Antonio "Tony" Mendez, played by Affleck - successfully led the mission to evacuate the Americans, which involved Mendez and his associates posing as a Canadian film crew that was eager to make a movie in Iran.

The real Tony Mendez was awarded the Intelligence Star for Valor, and other honors, for leading the rescue. He later wrote a memoir, detailing the events in Tehran

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr's full column
Opinion: DREAMers are pushing their luck
Ruben Navarrette says a sense of entitlement has crept into the demands of DREAM Act aspirants.. But they should tread lightly.
December 19th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Opinion: DREAMers are pushing their luck

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) - I know just what a lot of those so-called DREAMers deserve to get for Christmas: a scolding. There are good and bad actors in every movement, and the bad ones - if not kept in check - can drag the good ones down with them.

The term DREAMers refers to the estimated 1.4 million to 2 million young illegal immigrants who might have gotten some relief if the DREAM Act, which offered legal status in return for attending college or joining the military, hadn't been torpedoed in the Senate in December 2010.

Having declared their intention to better themselves, some in the DREAMer movement now insist that they're entitled to better treatment than run-of-the-mill illegal immigrants. You know, like the hardworking and humble folks who cut your lawn, clean your house or care for your kids. In fact, the DREAMers seem to suggest they're due a reward for good behavior.

At times, these young people act like spoiled brats. They don caps and gowns and disrupt committee hearings and occupy the offices of members of Congress. They dare police to arrest them, and then act surprised when it happens. They're not realistic, or respectful. They don't ask. They demand.

Read Ruben Navarrette's full column
Opinion: My Mexican-American identity crisis
The Zócalo plaza in Mexico City.
November 30th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Opinion: My Mexican-American identity crisis

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist.

By Ruben Navarrette, CNN Contributor

San Diego, California (CNN) - On a recent trip to Mexico City, I had barely made my way down the concourse and arrived at the immigration processing area when I got stumped.

Signs pointed the way to two lines: one for "Mexicanos" ("Mexicans"), another for "Extranjeros" ("Foreigners.")

I stood there for a few seconds, unsure of where to go. Growing up in Central California, I had been called a "Mexican" my entire life. It's ethnic shorthand in the same way that my friends in Boston refer to themselves as "Irish" or my friends in New York describe themselves as "Italian." Later, I settled on "Mexican-American."

But, this was Mexico. And, in the homeland of my grandfather, there was no need for shorthand or hyphens. I was simply an American. I speak Spanish, good enough to handle either end of an interview in that language. But I don't have the vocabulary of a native, and I can't shake my American accent.

So I took my U.S. passport and got in the line for Extranjeros.

Read Ruben Navarrette's full column
Opinion: In Mexico, racism hides in plain view
Ruben Navarrette says life in Mexico comes with more challenges for darker-skinned people.
November 20th, 2012
11:53 AM ET

Opinion: In Mexico, racism hides in plain view

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) - Mexico City, home to 20 million people, represents the paradox of the modern Mexico, the side-by-side juxtaposition - in everything from politics to architecture - of old and new.

Turn a corner, and you'll see a church that is 300 years old. Turn another, and you can get Wi-Fi in a Starbucks.

The Distrito Federal, also known as Mexico City, serves as a constant reminder that Mexicans are about maintaining tradition, except when they're sidestepping it. They're about moving forward, except when they are unable to let go of the past. They're about preserving memory, except when they have amnesia.

For example, when it comes to forgiving the corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party (also known by its initials, PRI), whose leaders brutalized the Mexican people and plundered the country for much of the 20th century, they have short memories; they recently returned the PRI to power by electing Enrique Pena Nieto to the presidency. He takes office December 1.

But when it comes to the aftermath of the U.S.-Mexican war, which lasted from 1846 to 1848 and resulted in the United States seizing half of Mexico's territory - the modern-day U.S. Southwest - Mexicans' memories are long, and forgiveness isn't easy to find. Even after all these years, in diplomatic circles, you still hear talk of the "sovereignty" issue - which, loosely defined, means the constant effort by Mexico to keep the United States from meddling in its domestic affairs and the need for the U.S. to tread lightly.

Read Ruben Navarrette's full column
November 6th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Opinion: For Latino voters, an unhappy choice

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

San Diego (CNN) - In this election, Latinos were supposed to play kingmakers. Instead they got crowned. No matter who wins on Tuesday, America's largest minority will be the loser.

As a Latino voter, and part of one of the country's fastest growing demographics, I was supposed to choose the next president. No, really, it was all arranged. This was going to be my year, along with the other 10 million or so Latino voters expected to cast ballots Tuesday.

Everyone said so - the pundits, the media, and the strategists. In February, Time Magazine had a cover story, with the eye-catching title, "Yo Decido" (I decide) - explaining how Latinos were going to pick the next president. Newspapers, websites, and television networks - supported financially by advertisers who wanted to tap into Latino consumers and the $1.2 trillion they spend annually - did special reports on the power of the Latino vote.

The concept of Latino voting power was easy to sell. Latinos bought it so they could feel powerful, and non-Latinos bought it because many of them already feel powerless anyway due to changing demographics.

There's only one problem with the storyline: It may not be true. Latino voters could wind up with very little power at all.

I don't mean that their votes won't count, or that they might not help decide the outcome in a few close states - namely Colorado, Florida and Nevada. That might well happen.

What I mean is that, in a broader sense, Latinos can be forgiven for feeling utterly powerless this year. It's been a tough campaign for them. They've been insulted, treated like fools, lied to, told they weren't really promised what they thought they had been, talked about behind their backs, and assured the administration is "breaking its neck" to achieve immigration reform - an issue that, in reality, was put so far on the back burner that it fell off the stove.

So, regardless of what happens on Tuesday, Latinos are limping into the polling booth having been accorded no respect, no influence, no power - not because of what happens that day, but because of what happened for weeks leading up to that day.

FULL STORY
Opinion: Why isn't Disney's Princess Sofia Latino?
Disney's new character, Sofia, was said to be Latino -- turns out, the company says, producers "misspoke."
October 26th, 2012
04:00 AM ET

Opinion: Why isn't Disney's Princess Sofia Latino?

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

San Diego (CNN) - The breathtakingly incompetent way that Disney handled the introduction of what was thought to be the Magic Kingdom's first Hispanic princess has me wondering: What kind of Mickey Mouse operation is this?

Given that Hispanics spending power is worth $1.2 trillion, it's not surprising the media and entertainment behemoth wants a slice of it. But Disney's attempt has turned into a case study of how not to market a product to any group, let alone Hispanics.

Talk about magic. Apparently, Disney has the power to take Hispanics and "de-Hispanicize" them. You start off chocolate, or cafe con leche. Then, suddenly, abracadabra, you're vanilla!

The first casualty is Princess Sofia.

Read Navarette's full column

Opinion: Kennedy Center Honors snub Latinos
Since 1978, the Kennedy Center has chosen only two Hispanics among more than 170 honorees.
October 2nd, 2012
02:30 PM ET

Opinion: Kennedy Center Honors snub Latinos

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) - Normally, you might think that a controversy over whether the Kennedy Center, one of the nation's leading performing arts organizations, is overlooking the contributions of Latino artists, actors and musicians would be a real sleeper.

Until you heard that, during a recent telephone conversation between one lover of the arts and another, one claims the other told him to "F- yourself."

Ok, gentlemen, you have my attention.

It all happened very quickly. On Sept. 14, Felix Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, and Michael M. Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts talked. In multiple media reports, Sanchez said that Kaiser took none too kindly to him expressing his concern over the constant omission of Latinos from the annual list of Kennedy Center Honors recipients.

Since 1978, the Kennedy Center has chosen only two Hispanics among more than 170 honorees: Spanish tenor Placido Domingo and U.S.-born performer Chita Rivera, who is of Puerto Rican descent. Both these breakthroughs happened during Michael Kaiser's tenure, which has lasted nearly 12 years.

In 2012, Latinos are nearly ubiquitous. You'll find them in corporate America, professional sports, music, entertainment, politics and the media. At 50 million people, America's largest minority is everywhere. Except, for some reason, on the annual list of Kennedy Center Honorees.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: Why Latinos are key in election
Latinos take the oath of citizenship during naturalization ceremonies at the Los Angeles Convention Center in 2008. Their numbers growing, Latino voters have growing influence in U.S. elections.
October 1st, 2012
08:17 AM ET

Opinion: Why Latinos are key in election

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
San Diego (CNN) - We start with the obvious question: Why do the media, political observers and presidential campaigns spend so much time talking about the Latino vote?

Many Americans resent the implication that some votes are more important or have more impact than others. (No one is saying that's the case.)

Still, why don't we talk with equal enthusiasm about voting by African-Americans or white evangelicals or left-handed senior citizens who live in Rhode Island?

Here are four reasons:

1. The number of Hispanic voters has been increasing steadily - by 2 million since the last presidential election.An estimated 12 million Latinos are expected to cast ballots in November, up from 10 million in 2008. That could account for as much as 10% of the total number of ballots cast across all demographic groups.

2. Latino voters live in swing states that pick presidents.They are a major presence in four battlegrounds: Colorado, Florida, Nevada and New Mexico. While they are also a force in blue states such as California and New York and red states such as Texas and Arizona, their real influence is in the purple states.

Read Ruben Navarette's full column

Opinion:'Dreamers' deal a roll of the dice
Bolivian Diego Mariaca, center, with his mother, fills out Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals paperwork in Washington, D.C.
September 26th, 2012
09:00 AM ET

Opinion:'Dreamers' deal a roll of the dice

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) - Imagine what it must be like to be born in one country but only know another, to be labeled "illegal" but feel 100% American, and to be asking for special dispensation from a government that has shown a flair for arresting and deporting people just like you.

"Samuel" doesn't have to imagine this life. He's too busy living it.

The recent high school graduate is one of about 82,000 Dreamers who opted to roll the dice on a new government program that promises temporary relief for young illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, have no criminal record and are pursuing higher education.

They're called Dreamers because they might have qualified for legal status under the Dream Act if the bill hadn't died in the Senate in December 2010 when 36 Republicans and 5 Democrats voted against cloture.

Read Ruben Navarrette's full column

« older posts
newer posts »