This congressional primary campaign going on in New York City between incumbent Rep. Charles Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat, his main challenger, is officially ugly. Last week, the debate focused on race and ethnicity. Today, as reported by The New York Observer, Dominican-born Espaillat told supporters that President Obama could do more to end the record number of deportations. This caused Rangel’s campaign to defend the president.
Here is what Espaillat told East Harlem’s El Barrio Mexican Chamber of Commerce:
The executive could issue an executive order calling to end deportations. We are seeing more deportations. They are ripping families apart. For a small infraction, people can be stopped and be on the road to deportation.
The story added:
Mr. Espaillat, who represents Washington Heights, also recalled how he and his family overstayed their visas when they first arrived in the country from the Dominican Republic.
“I can tell you firsthand what it is to be a child and not have your papers. To further aggravate that by taking away a parent is not good for America,” Mr. Espaillat said.
Then there was this from the Rangel camp:
“First State Senator Espaillat attacked President Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton as ‘not on the side of change,’ then he said the Obama Administration was an ‘absentee landlord’ that ‘has abandoned our neighborhoods,’ and now he’s attacking President Obama again?” a Rangel spokesman said.
“Unlike Senator Espaillat whose Republican allies have killed the Dream Act in Albany, we need leaders like Congressman Rangel who will work with the President to pass comprehensive immigration reform, not attack him over and over again,” he added.
Those comments already got criticized by City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, who released the following statement this afternoon:
The Rangel campaign’s statement today on deportations shows just how out of touch Congressman Rangel has become with the 13th District. Over the last five years, nearly 2 million individuals have been deported from the United States—breaking up families and disrupting communities. This is yet another example of why we need change.
Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa (Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill) also issued a statement:
“As a mother and an immigrant myself I am insulted by Congressman Rangel’s insensitive remarks about the millions of families that have been ripped apart through deportations. His shocking comments prove that he does not consider immigration reform a priority and cannot be a credible advocate for this district.”
Here is a statement from State Senator Jose Peralta:
“It is unconscionable that the representative for one of most diverse districts in the country apparently supports the heart-breaking deportation of more than 2 million people. How can you claim to be a champion for immigration reform when you are unwilling to stand up to this injustice? I would expect this position from a Tea Party Republican, not from a lifelong Democrat in the middle of a primary. Coming on the heels of a week of divisive rhetoric, this latest statement is an even more profound insult to New York’s immigrant community. Congressman Rangel should apologize immediately.”