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Opinion: Will Castro win over Latino skeptics?
San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro gives the keynote address Tuesday night at the Democratic National Convention
September 5th, 2012
05:33 PM ET

Opinion: Will Castro win over Latino skeptics?

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

Charlotte, North Carolina (CNN) - As you probably heard, Julian Castro's keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention was historic.

It marked the first time that a Latino had ever delivered the signature address at that event, and the fact that the 37-year-old mayor of San Antonio was invited to do so by the Democratic Party - and his twin brother, Texas state Rep. and congressional candidate Joaquin Castro, was chosen to introduce him - was a show of respect for America's largest minority.

As we Latinos might say: "Ya era tiempo" - "It was about time." A majority of Latinos have voted for the Democratic candidate in every presidential election dating back to 1960. That's 13 elections, loyally casting votes for strong candidates and weak ones. Over the last half-century, a lot of Democrats have owed their political careers to voters with names such as Gutierrez, Rodriguez or Morales.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: GOP, big tent or big mess?
Republicans gather for their convention in Tampa, Florida, as a party with deep divisions, says Ruben Navarrette.
August 28th, 2012
02:18 PM ET

Opinion: GOP, big tent or big mess?

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) - Now that delegates have converged on Tampa, Florida, for the Republican National Convention, one has to wonder whether there is enough room in the arena for all the conflicting and contradictory elements of the modern Republican Party.

There is the camp that claims it wants to be more inclusive, broader in its appeal and more welcoming to women, gays and minorities. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush recently warned that, because of changing demographics, the GOP has to "reach out to a much broader audience than we do today."

But then there is the camp that ensured that the Republican platform included language rejecting not just same-sex marriage but also the watered-down alternative that many elected officials find more palatable: civil unions.

The GOP platform committee also defeated a proposed amendment that said all Americans should be treated "equally under the law" as long as they're not hurting anyone else.

Read Ruben Navarette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: Is Paul Ryan an immigration pragmatist?
Rep. Paul Ryan, campaigning last week in Florida, has complicated views on immigration, Ruben Navarrette Jr. says.
August 24th, 2012
11:45 AM ET

Opinion: Is Paul Ryan an immigration pragmatist?

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) - Immigration groups, Obama surrogates, the media and the Democratic Party have a message for Latino voters, who some say could swing the election because they are heavily represented in four battleground states - Colorado, Nevada, Florida and New Mexico.

Here's the message: Vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan is anti-Latino, and his immigration views are simplistic, intolerant and punitive.

Really? Someone should tell that to the anti-immigrant group NumbersUSA, which advocates not only an end to illegal immigration (and there is nothing wrong with that) but also a dramatic reduction in legal immigration to pre-1965 levels (there is a lot wrong with that). It is the views of groups such as this - which sadly have a lot of influence on the Republican Party - that can genuinely be called simplistic, intolerant and punitive.

So why does NumbersUSA list Ryan's "career grade" in Congress as a "C"? Ryan's grade puts him in the bottom 10% of all current Republican members of Congress, according to Roy Beck, the group's founder and CEO.

The nicest thing that Beck could find to say about Ryan after the congressman from Wisconsin joined the GOP ticket was that Ryan "doesn't seem to have put a lot of thought into immigration policy and doesn't seem to have deep ideological reasons for his poor immigration record."

Wow. That's a ringing endorsement, isn't it? If someone like Beck thinks you have a "poor" record on immigration, it means you have both a heart and a brain.

Read Ruben Navarette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: 'Illegal immigrant' is the uncomfortable truth
Ruben Navarrette says it doesn't help the cause of immigration reform to downplay the fact that millions of people crossed US borders illegally.
July 6th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Opinion: 'Illegal immigrant' is the uncomfortable truth

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) - What's in a name? For my friends and simpaticos in the immigration reform community, enough to go ballistic at the mere mention of the phrase: "illegal immigrant."

First, there's enough to be afraid of in this world - from big government to monsters under the bed. We shouldn't be afraid of words. And when it comes time to declare a word or phrase offensive, we should be careful to do so judiciously and not go overboard.

That's my advice to my very good friend and business partner, Charles Garcia, for whom I have great affection and tremendous respect. He's my brother from another mother. That's true even on the rare occasion when he's wrong. And that's the case this week now that Charlie has written, in a thought-provoking column for CNN.com, that the phrase "illegal immigrant" is "biased" and "racially offensive." He also implied that it's a "slur" and - borrowing language from George Orwell - a "worn-out and useless phrase."

Opinion: Why 'illegal immigrant' is a slur

Actually, it's none of the above. The phrase is accurate. It's the shoe that fits. It's reality. And, as is often the case with reality, it's hard for some people to accept.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr's full column

Opinion: How Arizona law hurts Hispanic citizens
Residents listen as immigrant activists speak about Arizona's law last July.
June 26th, 2012
07:30 PM ET

Opinion: How Arizona law hurts Hispanic citizens

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) - First, here's what Arizona got wrong: Once upon a time, some lawmakers there decided that the state had a problem with illegal immigrants - most of whom are Hispanic. So they drafted a sweeping law that wound up inconveniencing, singling out and foisting second-class citizenship upon all Hispanics, including those who were born in the United States.

They are the real injured party in the Arizona drama. In its decision on Arizona's immigration law this week, the Supreme Court almost set things right. In a split decision, it struck down three parts of the law, but unfortunately it let stand the worst part, and it is U.S.-born Hispanics who could bear the brunt of the law for many years to come.

For one thing, there are more of them than there are illegal immigrants. Many of the state's illegal immigrants have already left - gone to New Mexico, Colorado, Texas, Arkansas and other more welcoming locales. Besides, U.S.-born Hispanics are not in hiding. They're out and about, living their lives as they have every right to do - and coming into contact with police,

How ironic is this situation? These are the people who, in many cases it is often said, didn't cross the border as much as the border crossed them. Some of my friends in Arizona come from families whose roots in that region go back six or seven generations.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: Romney too timid on immigration
Mitt Romney speaks at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Florida on Thursday.
June 22nd, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Opinion: Romney too timid on immigration

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) - Now that President Obama has put the immigration issue front and center, Mitt Romney can't avoid the subject any longer.

Romney needs to answer two simple questions: "What specifically are you going to do about the estimated 800,000 "DREAM'ers" at the center of President Obama's announcement last week - those young illegal immigrants under age 31 who, because they've graduated from high school or served in the military, are being told they'll be spared deportation? Would you deport them or let them stay in the United States?"

And during his speech Thursday to the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, here is the closest that Romney came to an answer:

"Some people have asked if I will let stand the president's executive action," he told the organization. "The answer is that I will put in place my own long-term solution that will replace and supersede the president's temporary measure. As president, I won't settle for a stop-gap measure. I will work with Republicans and Democrats to find a long-term solution."

Surely, Romney must have an idea of what he thinks the proper solution should be. Why not share it?

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: Not all Latinos are illegals
Not all Latinos in the United States arrived here five minutes ago, says Ruben Navarrette.
June 8th, 2012
09:11 AM ET

Opinion: Not all Latinos are illegals

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

By Ruben Navarrette Jr. , CNN Contributor

San Diego (CNN) - In my CNN.com column last week, I wrote that the first thing a candidate running for office needs to know about Latino voters is that they value nothing more than respect.

Here's the second thing: It's not respectful to lump together Latino U.S. citizens with Latino illegal immigrants.

Not all Latinos in the United States arrived here five minutes ago. In fact, some of us come from families who have been here for five generations. And there are those in the state of New Mexico who can trace their roots in the Southwest back several hundred years.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: Minorities are not looking for 'payback'
The U.S. population is becoming less white, according to new census data.
May 24th, 2012
12:00 PM ET

Opinion: Minorities are not looking for 'payback'

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

By Ruben Navarrette Jr. , CNN Contributor

San Diego (CNN) - You've probably read those articles about how, in the United States, minorities are becoming the majority. That's a polite way of describing what is really going on. Namely, that the U.S. population is becoming more Latino and less white. More than any other group, it is Latinos who are driving demographic changes.

Last week, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that, of all the babies born in the United States in 2011, more than half were members of minority groups. Latinos, Asians, African-Americans and other minorities accounted for 50.4% of births last year, marking the first time in U.S. history this has happened.

Immigration is a driving force. So is the fact that Latinos have higher birthrates because they tend to be younger and starting families. According to the report, Latinos have a median age of 27; with whites, it's 42.

When I read these kinds of stories, I wince. Some people assume that making lawmakers, media and corporations aware of population trends will persuade them to see the value in diversity and cause them to reach out to nonwhite populations. In my experience, it doesn't have that effect at all. People tend to do what they want to do the way they've always done it.

But what you can set your watch by is the backlash to these stories. It's rooted in fear, but also in human nature. No one likes being told they're being displaced or pushed aside, or that they're not going to be as relevant as time goes on.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column

Opinion: The truth about Arizona's immigration law
Visitors wait to enter the U.S. in Nogales, Arizona. Thousands of Mexicans have work permits and commute daily.
April 24th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Opinion: The truth about Arizona's immigration law

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor

San Diego (CNN) - With the Supreme Court poised this week to hear arguments in the legal challenge to Arizona's immigration law, it's a good time to explain what this law and the ruckus surrounding it are really about.

The left says it's about racism and political extremism; the right claims the issues are border security and public safety.

Wrong. In the two years since Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law, it's become clear that this law, and the debate over it, are really about three things: fear, power and freedom.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column 

Opinion: Latino, Hispanic labels don't matter - issues do
Protesters wave American flags and flags of their nations of origin at an immigration rally in Dallas in 2009.
April 20th, 2012
03:22 PM ET

Opinion: Latino, Hispanic labels don't matter - issues do

Editor's note: Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a CNN.com contributor and a nationally syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.

By Ruben Navarrette Jr., CNN Contributor

(CNN) - What's in a nombre?

Apparently, for some Latinos, er, I mean Hispanics, it matters a lot. When researchers asked a group of people with roots in Latin America what they wanted to be called, they got a variety of responses.

According to a new survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, the preferred term for many is "Hispanic." People prefer that word over "Latino" by a two-to-one margin, 33% to 14%.

But the study also revealed that most Latinos/Hispanics (51%) don't use either term and couldn't care less what they're called.

Also, in a fascinating trend, the survey found that for those who want to affix their own label, the first preference is tied to an individual's country of origin or that of their parents. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed said they describe their identity by using country of origin.

Read Ruben Navarrette Jr.'s full column

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