Gutiérrez Says Meeting with Rubio About Alternative DREAM Act Went “Great”

Is the shift in the immigration debate starting to happen between Democrats and Republicans?

Both Univision News and Puerto Rico's El Nuevo Día are reporting that a meeting between Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Democratic leaders received praise by Democratic Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (IL), a vocal critic of recent Republican immigration policies as well as the policies of President Obama's administration.

The meeting, according to both outlets, was called by Rubio and included Rep. Gutiérrez, Rep. Bob Menéndez (D-NJ), and Rep. Charles González (D-TX). This is what Gutiérrez had to say to Univision News:

“It was a great meeting. Look, I am going to meet with anyone independent of their political party or what perceived or real political benefit my association [provides] as long as it does one thing: stop the deportations,” Gutiérrez told Univision News in an interview Wednesday evening.

The congressman, who’s known as a champion for immigration reform, said the three members who met with Rubio aren’t yet willing to announce their support for the plan since the final language has not yet been drafted, although they did discuss some details.

“He said it and we agreed with him; today was not a day for us to come together because there is no proposal to agree on. It was simply a conversation opening dialogue,” said Gutiérrez.

Rubio has begun to promote an alternative version of The DREAM Act, which would begin to address the citizenship status of undocumented youth who came to this country with their parents, but are not American citizens. Rubio's plan is in sharp contrast to what the GOP front-runner Mitt Romney has been promoting for months, which follows a more extreme view of immigration enforcement. Recently Romney was open to Rubio's plan, although he has yet to truly distance himself from "informal adviser" Kris Kobach, the architect of Arizona's SB 1070 immigrant law. Rubio is still being mentioned as a possible running mate for Romney.

Univision News provided some additional background about the history of The DREAM Act, which has overwhelming support with US Latino voters:

Rubio’s proposal is styled after the current version of the DREAM Act, which would provide a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children who are seeking a higher education or want to enlist in the military. The proposal, which is widely popular with Latinos and non-Latinos alike, passed the House in 2010 but failed to clear a 60-vote hurdle in the Senate to break a filibuster.

The DREAM Act has been stalled in Congress since then under near-universal Republican opposition, including from Rubio, who describes it as an “amnesty” bill that could lead to “chain migration.” The presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney said said he would veto the current version, though he has said recently he is open to Rubio’s plan. Rubio says that under his proposal, certain undocumented minors would receive legal status, but not a special pathway to citizenship.

That has been a main point of contention of several immigration-reform advocates and Democrats, who have described it as a half measure, an indication that it’s far from certain Democrats will endorse it. Indeed, earlier this month, Gutierrez labeled the plan the “Stolen Dreams Act.”

But he pledged to hold his fire until Rubio comes out with more details regarding the plan. “I also have concerns. I don’t want to speak to the details of a bill that he hasn’t fully elaborated. He gave us some good indications about different components of the bill, but those components could change,” he said. “Let’s give him a chance. He asked me to give him a chance, and I’m going to wait.”

As for other reaction to Rubio's plan, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was quoted in a Washington Post blog that Rubio's plan would have trouble being passed in Congress:

Asked by a reporter whether he thought the House could pass an immigration measure this year that focused on more than just border security, Boehner said: “There’s always hope.”

The speaker said he has spoken to Rubio about his plan. “I found it of interest, but the problem with this issue is that we’re operating in a very hostile political environment. To deal with a very difficult issue like this, I think it would be difficult at best.”

Boehner also added the following:

"Where’s the president’s immigration plan? Where does the president stand on this issue? Instead of campaigning all the time, maybe he ought to come back to Washington and go back to work,” Boehner said.

The Post's blog quoted President Obama's comments to Telemundo earlier this month about the Rubio plan:

“This notion that somehow Republicans want to have it both ways, they want to vote against these laws and appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment . . . and then they come and say, ‘But we really care about these kids and we want to do something about it’ — that looks like hypocrisy to me,” Obama said.

Al Jazeera Features Tony Diaz of @librotraficante in Extended “Losing the Latino Vote” Segment

Tony Diaz, the leader of the Librotraficantes group, made an appearance this week on Al Jazeera in an extended segment called "Losing the Latino Vote." The segment tried to answer following: With each passing US election the Hispanic vote becomes more crucial to clinching the presidency. But does the Republican party risk alienating that constituency with its increasingly hostile rhetoric and policy?

"They've really got to reach out and I want to remind people that the Latinos will be a big swing vote… Offensive things like our ethnic studies being denied and banned in states like Arizona to us represent the Republican party. Right now Obama has got to capture our hearts and imagination with good old-fashioned American values that we children of the American dream believe in."

- Tony Diaz, novelist and leader of the activist group Librotraficantes

Our favorite Librotaricante held his own and got his point across, one that we tend to side on. The Republican Party missed a huge opportunity to capitalize on the dissatisfaction and disappointment many Latino voters had with President Obama. However, when their main candidates continue to harp on short-sighted immigration rhetoric (and this means you too, Speaker Gingrich), it is no surprise that right now, Obama 2012 is going to still take a large chunk of the US Latino vote. It is a long election cycle, but we don't see any indications that Mitt Romney will change his tune. He is still stuck on pushing a self-deportation policy that was actually a joke initiated in 1990s by an activist group in California.

Diaz was part of a panel that include Israel Ortega, the editor of, a conservative Spanish language website, and Brent Wilkes, the executive director of the League of United Latino American Citizens.

Open Letter to Governor Mitt Romney from Latino GOP Leaders

January 26, 2012

Dear Governor Romney:

We are a group of Latino Republicans invested in the growth of the economy and the support of Hispanic communities. Some of us have supported Newt Gingrich from the beginning of his campaign, and others of us have supported you. Our purpose here is to advise you that those of us who have stood by you are now withdrawing our backing in favor of Newt Gingrich. We've come to our decision based on our belief that your support of the Hispanic community is not a clear representation of what we need.

For example, in Iowa you stated that you would immediately veto the Dream Act. Mr. Gingrich proposes to push an essential part of the Dream Act which offers citizenship to those young men and women who serve in military. Last Tuesday in Florida, you openly agreed with Newt on a partial acceptance of the Dream Act, reversing your original stance on the matter.

It appears you find it "dishonest" to consider yourself Mexican-American, even though your father was born in Mexico. Under that same pretense, would those of us born in the United States, but have parental ancestry from Mexico, Venezuela, Columbia, Cuba, and other Latin American countries, be dishonest in claiming ourselves as Americans?

It is clear to us that you have not provided a real solution on behalf of the 12+ million immigrants who live in the shadows of the American communities. You fail to dignify the economic refugees who reside, work, pay taxes, and are otherwise productive citizens in this country. In stark contrast, Mr. Gingrich has a true history of supporting our community. He says we he means, and means what he says.

As examples:

  • As Speaker, he pushed through the Cuban LIBERTAD Act, which codified the embargo on Cuba, authorized aid to dissidents, and set the framework for principled engagement to support a genuine transition to democracy.
  • Newt Gingrich pushed humane immigration laws, including the NACARA act (authored by former Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart) to ensure that we kept our pledge to those who fled the Sandinistas in the 1970's.
  • Newt Gingrich is the only candidate that has offered a humane approach to our immigration problem. He understands how inhumane and unrealistic it is to deport 12 million undocumented immigrants. He proposes to secure the border, deport criminals, and recognize the remainder through temporary work permits, and through establishing legal status for those with American sponsorship and deep ties to their communities.
  • Newt Gingrich proposes to push an essential part of the Dream Act which offers citizenship to those young men and women who serve in the military.
  • Newt supports a referendum for the people of Puerto Rico to decide between independence, statehood and continued commonwealth status.
  • Newt Gingrich has for years shown active support by reaching out to us, our organizations and our community to better understand the real concerns of American Hispanics. His interest in us did not begin last Tuesday in a Florida debate.
  • Mr. Gingrich has showed active support for the Hispanic community by reaching out to us, our organizations, and our communities to better understand the real concerns of American Hispanics. This is a quality that we respect, value, and appreciate.

Mr. Romney, without an open dialogue with us you are unable to understand issues important to the Latino community. Due to this absence, we are unable to support you. 


Rosario Marin – Former US Treasurer, California

Mario Rodriguez – Hispanic 100 Chair, California

Massey Villarreal – Former National Chair of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, Texas

Vinicio Madrigal, MD – Former Chair Louisiana Republican Hispanic Assembly, Louisiana

Theresa Speake – Former National Secretary of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, Virginia

Al Zapanta – President & CEO, U.S.-Mexico Chamber of Commerce, Texas

Lionel Sosa – President of Bromley Communications, Texas

Miguel Orozco – Immigration lawyer, California; Outstanding Americans by Choice Recipient; Actor & Producer

Elizabeth Orozco – Business Executive

Eduardo Verástegui – Pro-life activist, actor, singer. California

Joe Galvan – Former regional director HUD, Former chair RNHA. Illinois    

Teresa Hernandez – Restaurateur

Saul Delgado – President of Caboraca

Fortino Rivera – CEO

Bertha Rivera – Business Executive

Nancy C. Acevedo – Chair National Republican Hispanic Alliance Florida

Robbie G. Munoz – Hispanic 100 Youth Chair, California

Julio Gudino – President, Gudino Financial & Insurance Services, Inc.

KV Kumar – Nat'l Vice Chairman, Asian American & Pacific Islanders Nat'l Republican Assembly

The Marco Rubio Speech (with DREAM Act Interruptions) from the Hispanic Leadership Network

Here is the full video of what Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio had to say about immigration and the GOP at Friday's Hispanic Leadership Network conference in Miami.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio

This first video shows NO SOMOS RUBIOS members interrupting Senator Rubio's speech. The other two clips show his entire speech.



No Somos Rubios

Is the US Latino community going to educate the rest of the nation that Florida Senator Marco Rubio does NOT represent the views of Latino voters?

The Miami Herald reported that the NO SOMOS RUBIOS campaign protested Rubio's appearance today in Miami. Here is an excerpt:


In the lead-up to Rubio's speech, critics from a group called Presente Action had a propeller plane circling the Doral Golf Resort & Spa with a banner reading, Hey Marco: No Somos Rubios, which translates to "We aren't Rubios." It's a play on words on the word rubio, which in Spanish means blond or fair. The group is attacking Rubio largely over immigration, protesting that the senator doesn't support the pro-immigrant DREAM Act.

For updates on Rubio's speech once it begins, refresh this blog post.

After saying a few words in Spanish, Rubio, who was greeted by a standing ovation, said he got a text message froma friend telling him about the airplane banner. "Marco, we're not blond," he said, translating the banner. "Which, by coincidence, neither am I — although if I'm in the Senate for another year, I may start being a little bit more gray."

The crowd laughed. Then Rubio immediately went into the issue of immigration — and a couple of suit-clad protesters stood up, raised signs that said "Marco Rubio — Latino or Tea-Partino" and asked Rubio why he isn't helping them. "You're an immigrant yourself!" they yelled.

Rubio appeared unfazed. Security approached the protesters while Rubio said, "I ask that you guys let them stay, because I think that they're going to be interested in what I'm going to say." Rubio got a standing ovation. "I don't want them to leave," he repeated. "I want them to stay."

"Let them stay!" chanted the crowd. 

But the protesters were escorted out.

"They came here to a crowd that they know may not be friendly," Rubio said. "I think God that I'm in a country where they can do that.

"I'm not who they think I am," he said. "I don't stand for what they claim I stand for."

Then, speaking without notes, an energized Rubio launched into a 20-minute speech his supporters said afterwards was one of the best they have heard throughout the presidential campaign.

"Our country has a broken legal immigration system," he began. "The status quo is unsustainable."

Rubio spoke of bipartisan support for a guest worker system and making it easier for people to obtain U.S. visas. But the policies haven't moved forward, he said, because of politics.

"We must admit that there are those among us that have used rhetoric that is harsh and intolerable and inexcusable," Rubio said. "And we must admit — myself included — that sometimes we've been too slow to condemn that language for what it is."

On the left of the political spectrum, politicians too have been guilty, Rubio said, of setting "unrealistic expectations" to appeal to Hispanic voters.

"It's not realistic to expect that you're going to deport 11 million people," he acknowledged. He added later, "No, we cannot legalize 11 million people."

Read more here:

Is the GOP even going to listen? Only time will tell. Here is what Act.Presente.Org produced:

In Florida GOP Race, Puerto Rican Voters Matter

They are one of the fastest-growing voting groups in Florida, and while GOP candidates make their mandatory visit to Café Versailles in Little Havana, they might also consider stopping in Orlando since the Latino vote in the Sunshine State is no longer dominated by Cuban Americans.

The Puerto Rican population in Florida is on the upswing. One of the factors is attributed to the migration of Puerto Ricans from the island who are leaving for better opportunities on the mainland. As US citizens who can move freely (although a group that understands what it means to be a second-class citizens), this new vote does not follow the traditional views of the Cuban American community. Unlike Miami's reactionary stance towards the government of the Castro brothers, Puerto Ricans' concerns and connections to their homeland focus more on the island's double-digit unemployment, high crime rates, a growing and dangerous drug trade, and a political status question that has kept Puerto Rico in limbo for generations.

Today in, Justin Velez-Hagan of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, offers an excellent political analysis about Puerto Ricans and the Florida vote:


Puerto Ricans already account for the second largest group of Hispanics in the U.S. (they make up 10% of all Hispanics), but are growing at an increasingly rapid pace, especially in Florida.  More importantly, so is their voting power.

As natural-born citizens of the U.S., Puerto Ricans are the only group of Hispanics that can move between their place of origin and anywhere in the country at any time for any reason, without government approval.  Given this unique advantage, combined with a poor economy on the island, Puerto Ricans have left their homeland for greener economic pastures, making the group among the fastest growing stateside Hispanics.

Velez-Hagan makes some salient points that matters to GOP candidates who are interested in gaining support:

Being the next stop on the Republican Party’s rollercoaster ride of a primary, and the first with a significant Hispanic population, Florida Hispanics have the opportunity to meaningfully impact primary results.  Within that heavily-Hispanic demography, Puerto Ricans specifically are demanding more and more respect, growing more than 75% in the last decade to 32% of the state’s Hispanic vote.  At the same time, the total number of Florida voters has dropped, making Puerto Rican growth have an even greater impact.

Cubans, who have long been considered the political powerhouse of the Florida Hispanic vote, slimly beat out Puerto Ricans with 36% of Florida’s Hispanic vote.  But if the Puerto Rican and Cuban populations maintain their respective growth rates, Florida voters will be sipping a Café Puertorriqueño before hitting the polls in 2016.

This final point is the key:

The Puerto Rican vote in Florida may also have the greatest opportunity for growth in voter participation within its existing population.  Although Puerto Ricans have been known to have a lower voter turnout than the rest of the population, some analysts suggest this means they have nowhere to go but up.  After all, while in the “motherland,” Puerto Ricans have astounding voter turnout rates.  With rates as high as 90% (averaging in the mid-80s), islanders don’t joke around when it comes to their right to influence the process.

The problem is, however, that candidates have a problem transferring the political parties and ideals represented by Puerto Ricans on the island to the traditional electoral process in the U.S.  While average Americans are used to traditional dual-party politics, Puerto Rico has three dominant political parties, whose platforms generally cater to status issue politics (i.e., whether it should remain a commonwealth, become a state, or go independent).

Whatever the reason for the lack of a lockdown on Florida-Ricans, the next political powerhouse continues to stand by, waiting for a leader.

Candidates looking for an edge in Florida, have an inimitable opportunity to gain the loyalty of a previously untapped demographic, while swaying the Florida Hispanic vote, wooing a valuable swing state, and enlightening political analysts and media pundits everywhere that spending a little more time in Orlando, and a little less time in Miami, may just be the key to the White House.

The Latinization of Newt Gingrich: Don’t Believe the Hype

With recent news that a Latino GOP group has endorsed Newt Gingrich for the Republican nomination as the race heads down to Florida (where the demographic US Latino voter is complex and not monolithic), the Latinization of Gingrich is moving in full force. Before Latino Republicans jump on the Gingrich Train, a more detailed discussion of his record should be considered. Here are just a few issues that they might want to consider:


Gingrich Supports Controversial South Carolina Immigration Law

and Will Address “Birth Tourism” if Elected

We ran that piece in December and it is a theme that Gingrich repeated during the last GOP Debate last Thursday. In addition, even though Gingrich might be perceived as the most "moderate" of GOP candidates when it comes to immigration reform, his stance to stop the federal lawsuits towards Arizona, South Carolina, and Alabama immigration laws seems to send a double message. As Gingrich said in December:

Gingrich told a gathering of business and community leaders that on the day he’s inaugurated, he will sign an executive order dropping lawsuits against South Carolina, Alabama and Arizona “because I think the federal government should be stopping illegal immigration, not stopping the states from enforcing the laws.”

Gingrich also said U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from Seneca, will introduce a measure, possibly as a constitutional amendment, to address “birth tourism,” referring to people who come to the U.S. on a tourist visa to have children, who then can be considered Americans.

“That’s clearly not what the 14th Amendment (to the U.S. Constitution) implied, and I think it’s inaccurate to interpret that way,” Gingrich said, referring to the provision that persons born or naturalized in the United States are U.S. citizens.

A spokesman confirmed Graham is examining two approaches, including a constitutional amendment. The other would seek a new Supreme Court interpretation of a century-old case.

Another story that we reported in November, 2011 is also an issue that Latino Republicans should consider.


Gingrich’s 2007 Comment About Spanish

as the “Language of Living in a Ghetto” Resurfaces

Last Thursday at the GOP debate, Gingrich's push for moderate immigration reform was also mixed with his call to make English the official language of the United States. In a country that many think will become the LARGEST Spanish-speaking country in the world by 2050, Gingrich's seems to be missing the point. His stance on language and culture reeks of neo-nativism. Instead of promoting diversity and change, and respecting Spanish-speaking US Latino voters (side note: Gingrich needs a better translator), Gingrich is basically saying that they don't matter because they don't speak English. That is not the way to gain votes, Mr. Speaker.

We did reach out to Somos Republicans for this piece to ask why they would continue to endorse Gingrich. We asked them three questions on their Facebook wall, but as of this post getting published, we have received no comment from them. We seriously question an organization that claims to support candidates that speak against Arizona, South Carolina, and Alabama laws, especially when the candidate they are endorsing has already gone on record twice to say that he supports those laws.

The GOP’s Mixed Message to the US Latino Voter



When Rick Santorum made his statement about Blacks on welfare, he touched a familiar nerve among its traditional voting base.  In a room of largely white voters in a State with an African-American population of virtually zero, Santorum said, “I do not want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money, I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.” 

With heads nodding in approval, applause even, Santorum appealed to a stereotype long perpetuated and successfully applied to win over white voters throughout the South, where it would be difficult to find an institution more despised than the GOP.

By Veronica Bravo, USA TODAY

Yet the growing demographic power of Latinos in key states, particularly Texas, makes it obvious to anyone who can see beyond their nose that the GOP cannot sustain this tactic for much longer. Meg Whitman ran for governor of California as a centrist and it wasn’t until her campaign ran into the issue of immigration that she was derailed.  In an election season ripe for her ascendance, and in a stunning example of political tone-deafness by her advisers, Whitman turned to Pete Wilson for help on the issue.  Its not necessary to go through the Prop 187 episode here, but asking Pete Wilson for advice on immigration in California is like asking Dina Lohan for advice on parenting.

Similarly, Sharon Angle ran for Senate in Nevada in an election she had no business losing, but once again, the potency of white angst was too much for her clueless advisors to resist, not to mention her clearly deficient leadership capabilities.

The Republicans are still stuck in the past, and if they are to expand their appeal the GOP will have to own up to its past.  Latinos have been waiting for some coherent message from the GOP and this week there was an indicator that message would come.  The Republican Party announced that Bettina Inclán would head the Hispanic outreach effort of the Republican National Committee.  However, on that same day, Mitt Romney boasted about the endorsement of Kris Kobach, one of the main architects of the waves of anti-immigrant legislation around the country, including Arizona’s infamous SB1070. 

While Inclán has some experience within the Party structure there’s no evidence they will listen to her. The mixed messaging coming from the Party with the announcement of Kobach’s endorsement demonstrates a decided lack of consciousness about the sentiments of Latinos. Perhaps Inclán can change that. She will need to work hard to gain the trust of Hispanics rather than just repeat the Party line.  Whether or not the GOP will allow her to do that is another question.

Professor Stephen A. Nuño is an Assistant Professor at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach in the Latino community. You can visit his page at

Meet Mitt Romney’s Mexican Primos from Casas Grandes in Chihuahua

UnivisionNews posted this video on their YouTube site that presents us with GOP Republican candidate Mitt Romney's primos.

What do you think? Pandering or authentic?

Estimado Señor @NewtGringrich: Your Spanish Translations Are Awful

So with the Iowa caucus tonight, GOP candidate New Gingrich and his campaign are reaching out to Latinos in Iowa, who constitute about 5% of the state's total population. On January 2, the Newt con Nosotros email sent out a bilingual email to its database. While we applaud the Gingrich campaign for trying to reach voters in both English and Spanish, we would like to offer Newt a little advice: GET A BETTER TRANSLATOR IN SPANISH. The clunkiness of the Spanish text and its literal voice only confirm that the Gingrich campaign should benefit from actually hiring native Spanish speakers who can actually WRITE in Spanish.

The translation, to put it mildly, reads like a bad Google Translate. If Newt were in an college-level Spanish class, we would give him a solid C-. The result is an email that sounds unnatural and forced in Spanish. Here is the email below, without comments in red.

There is nothing more awful than reading a literal Spanish translation that makes you cringe as you read it. Communication in Spanish is an editorial skill, and bad translation only kills your intent and makes most Spanish speakers we know shake their heads.


Estamos a unas horas de la votación en Iowa y Newt le necesita! (the "leísmo" is so archaic and so continental Spanish, it ia wrong. And the last time we checked, Spanish exclamations start with an inverted exclamation point)

Es importante que el mensaje de Newt llegue a todos los ciudadanos de Iowa. La comunidad hispana es importante para el éxito de esta campaña y usted puede marcar la diferencia realizando llamadas y empujando a los ciudadanos de Iowa a votar el 3 de enero. (Newt is literally telling Latino voters in Iowa to physically push their fellow citizens. That could get dangerous. Does he have the health insurance to cover that? Also phrases like "realizando llamadas" just sound clunky. Keep it simple, Newt: "haciendo llamadas" is a better choice.)

Lo mejor es que usted puede ser parte importante de esto desde la comodidad de su propia casa. (Clunky, literal and hard to understand. It's like they inserted the English into an automatic translation machine and clicked on SUBMIT.)

Siga estas instrucciones simples por favor: ("Simples" can mean idiotic like a simpleton. "Sencillas" is a better choice here.)

1.       Vaya a y cree su cuenta. ("Crear" connotes creation. Newt could have used clearer words like "iniciar," "establecer," even "abrir" works here!)


2.        Una vez creada la cuenta vaya a 
(Why why why use the formation, it reeks of literal translation.)

3.       Eso le llevará a la página de llamadas telefónicas. Seleccione español o inglés. (Starting a phrase like this with "Eso" is too literal.)


4.       Tome nota de los e-mails de personas que quieran ayudar. (It's ok to not use Anglicisms like "e-mails," there is no real reason to not use "direcciones electrónicas" or something clearer and in Spanish.)

5.       Use Notes si las personas le dicen en qué quieren ayudar. (Ah, yes the whole issue that we give you instructions in Spanish but we use tabs in English. Explain that more. Also, the whole "en qué" construction is clunky as well.)


6.       Por favor, consiga cuantos más posibles voluntarios, familiares y amigos!

Sólo unos minutos de su día pueden marcar una gran diferencia en Iowa. Newt quiere que estemos con él y no para él a fin de devolver a este país a la senda correcta. 

Feliz Año Nuevo a todos. Gracias por su ayuda. Juntos podemos reconstruir los Estados Unidos que amamos. 

(Another bad use of Spanish punctuation and the whole "cuántos más posible" phrase is another bad literal example. Second sentence reads like an English sentence, and what does the third sentence mean in Spanish? Semantically it is awful. And the last sentence is even more literal and even more clunky)