On Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace failed to challenge RNC chairman Michael Steele's claim that Hispanic leaders support a "secure our borders first" approach to immigration. In fact, many of the nation's leading Hispanic organizations advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, not a "secure our borders first" approach.
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During the February 1 edition of Fox News Sunday, after Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele stated that the Republican position on immigration is "secure our borders first," host Chris Wallace failed to challenge Steele's assertion that "you talk to those leaders in the Hispanic community, they will tell you the same thing: They understand the importance of making sure the United States borders are secure." In fact, many of the nation's leading Hispanic organizations advocate for comprehensive immigration reform, not a "secure our borders first" approach.
For instance, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) states: "The CHC opposes immigration enforcement measures that will only serve to push immigrants further into the shadows where they live in fear and are more likely to be exploited. We are committed to improving our national security, but see piecemeal adjustments of immigration enforcement as counterproductive if they are not included in a broad, comprehensive package overhauling the whole immigration system."
Other leading Hispanic organizations also advocate for comprehensive immigration reform that includes both enforcement and other measures:
- League of United Latin American Citizens: "LULAC opposes any legislation that threatens the rights of immigrants, criminalizes them or those who provide them assistance, and harms Latino communities. Legal residents and naturalized citizens should have the same benefits due native-born citizens. LULAC opposes the militarization of the border and vigilante attacks on immigrants, as well as the mistreatment of immigrants in the United States regardless of their status. LULAC supports comprehensive immigration reform that provides an avenue for undocumented workers to legalize their status and expands the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. to meet our needs."
Further, a September 15, 2006, LULAC press release stated:
LULAC is in favor of border security but wants a comprehensive approach to solving the problem that is reasonable and fair. Each year, more than 400 immigrants die attempting to cross into the United States from Mexico. Building a wall between Mexico and the United States will force many migrants toward even more dangerous avenues resulting in increased loss of life along the border. Any comprehensive immigration legislation passed by Congress should be designed to reduce border deaths, not increase them. The Republican controlled Congress has failed to work with Democrats in passing meaningful comprehensive immigration reform this year.
- National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials: "The NALEO Educational Fund has adopted principles on comprehensive immigration reform [click here] that provide a road map to the work that needs to be done on this important national issue, including the need for a path to U.S. citizenship for those immigrants who have played by the rules and are contributing to our society. Our principles also envision a system which promotes family reunification and reduces immigration backlogs; provides a meaningful opportunity for immigrant students to pursue a college education; protects our national security with effective and fair enforcement measures; and promotes the civic integration of newcomers. We urge members of the U.S. Senate to work toward those principles for true comprehensive immigration reform."
Further, according to a NALEO survey following the 2008 election, "[o]n the issue of specific immigration reform proposals, Latino voters, across all subgroups, strongly support a comprehensive approach that seeks to address both border security and deal with immigrants in the United States at the same time. Nearly half, 49% of Latino voters, say they support a comprehensive approach, while 24% support proposals that would deal with immigrants first and 17% who believe we should deal with border security first."
- National Council of La Raza: "NCLR supports comprehensive immigration reforms that combine reasonable enforcement with reduction in family immigration backlogs, a legal path for future immigrant workers, and a path to citizenship for those living and working in the U.S."
- National Hispanic Leadership Agenda: "NHLA stands with the strong majority of Americans in urging prompt federal action in enacting comprehensive immigration reform to restore the rule of law to the nation's immigration system and strengthen our commitment to basic fairness, opportunity for all, and equal treatment under the law."
Moreover, according to an October 26, 2006, statement, NCLR, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), NALEO, and LULAC all oppose the Secure Fence Act, which former President Bush signed into law that same day. In the statement, John Trasviña, then-interim president and general counsel of MALDEF, and Arturo Vargas, executive director of NALEO, criticized Congress and the president for passing such a bill rather than a comprehensive immigration reform bill.
From the statement:
Noting that the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border will do little to fix our broken immigration system or deal with the 12 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in this country, the leaders of the nation's leading Latino organizations made the following comments:
Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
"This law doesn't solve the immigration issue, it makes it worse. By authorizing 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border without appropriating any funding, this law reflects everything that is wrong with the immigration debate. It is a symbol of Congress's and the Administration's failure to achieve meaningful immigration reform."
John Trasviña, Interim President and General Counsel, MALDEF
"The Secure Fence Act should be called the Secure Election Act. It is a travesty that Congress utterly failed in achieving comprehensive immigration reform and could only pass in its waning days a bill for a fence that will take years to complete and does nothing to address America's immigration or labor needs. The President's signing into law of this bill simply reiterates that failure."
Arturo Vargas, Executive Director, NALEO
"The President committed himself to passing a fair and complete immigration package, but the border fence bill takes us farther away from achieving that goal. By signing the bill into law, he has clearly taken a step back from his commitment. We will continue to work with Congress and the President for effective immigration reform that recognizes the valuable contributions newcomers make to our nation's economic and civic life."
Brent Wilkes, Executive Director, LULAC
"The Latino community expected Congress to enact feasible and humane immigration policies that would restore the rule of law and enhance security, reunite families, protect workers, promote citizenship and civic participation, and help local communities. Instead, the House leadership played politics with the issue and ended up with this meaningless gesture."
From the February 1 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Well, let's talk about how you reach out. And that's part of the key to this, because, at this point, the Republicans -- if you look at the last election -- are a minority party. Let's talk about how you reach out to some of the groups that may feel alienated from the Republican Party. In November, John McCain got 31 percent of the Hispanic vote. Four years ago, President Bush did 13 points better. Does the GOP need to change its position on immigration reform -- guest worker, path to citizenship -- to reach out and say to Hispanics, "You have a home in the Republican Party"?
STEELE: No, well, I think the GOP's position on immigration is very much the position of many, many Hispanics who are in this country. We have --
WALLACE: But wait a minute. Is the GOP --
STEELE: Hold up. Hold up.
WALLACE: But is the GOP position the position of George Bush and John McCain, which is for immigration reform?
STEELE: The GOP -- the GOP's --
WALLACE: Or is it the position that was "build the fence"?
STEELE: The GOP's position is: secure our borders first. Let us know and let us make sure the American people know that we've taken care of the important business of dealing with the illegal immigration into this country. You cannot begin to address the concerns of the people who are already here unless and until you have made certain that no more are coming in behind them.
WALLACE: So no change in the position of the party?
STEELE: No change in the position on the party on that --
WALLACE: You are one of the --
STEELE: But how we message that is where we messed up the last time. We were pegged as being insensitive, anti-immigrant, and nothing could be further from the truth. Because, you talk to those leaders in the Hispanic community, they will tell you the same thing: They understand the importance of making sure the United States borders are secure.
WALLACE: You are one of the co-founders of something called the Republican Leadership Council --
WALLACE: -- which supports candidates who favor abortion and gay rights.
WALLACE: Does the GOP need to do a better job of reaching out to people who hold those views?