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Fernando Espuelas

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An Open Letter to Self-Proclaimed Immigrants' Champion, Congressman Luis Gutierrez

Posted: 05/ 2/11 11:47 AM ET

Dear Congressman Gutierrez,

Are you a secret Republican? Are you now actively engaged in making sure that Obama is a one-term president? Are you trying to destroy any chance for comprehensive immigration reform for the next 10 years?

Based on your words and actions over the last two years, it sure seems that the answer to all three questions is "yes."

You have become a familiar face in the media, purporting to speak for all 52 million American Latinos. You tell the world of our collective pain, our supposed victimization at the hands of the unjust U.S. immigration system.

You remind us, over and over again, that Obama "broke his promise" to push for immigration reform in the first year of his administration -- a political absurdity when the country was undergoing the most devastating economic crisis in 70 years.

You decry the president's enforcement of existing immigration law -- never acknowledging that under our Constitution that is exactly what the president must do.

You leave out of your drama-queen performances the inconvenient truth -- President George Bush was lambasted by his own party for his supposed lackadaisical enforcement of immigration law. The party eventually forced Bush to abandon immigration reform, leaving him humiliated by his own party and frustrating Karl Rove's plan to capture the Latino vote for the GOP.

And now, Congressman, you tour the country giving histrionic speeches and making emotional statements to the media. "Obama broke his promise," you tell people ad nauseum -- as if the president of the United States can enact laws without Congress actually passing them.

But that's not how it works, right? Congress passes laws and the president signs them. You know that. So why the fiction that Obama is fully and uniquely responsible for our joke of an immigration "system"? In fact, you lay all the blame on the president.

And in an act of pure political nihilism -- and strategic folly -- you have even advised that Latinos not vote in elections if immigration reform is not passed. You've hinted that you want to create a new "movement" outside of the Democratic Party.

Do you actually believe all this nonsense? Or has this absurd message merely become a handy platform from which to launch your media vanity tour, now taking you to 20 cities across the country in which you blame your lack of success in passing immigration reform in the Democratic-Party-controlled House of Representatives in 2008 and 2009 on Obama?

If memory serves, you never managed to pass a bill. Yet you were the point person in Congress for immigration reform -- you were even made the chair of the Democratic Caucus Immigration Task Force.

Why were you unable to convince your own House Democratic colleagues to, at the very least, approve a bill in the House and put pressure on the Senate to do the same? President Obama has said over and over that he will sign an immigration reform bill -- why didn't you send him one?

In the Latino community we all speak about the need to come together, to "unify." But unify around what? Your bizarre idea that we can reform America's laws by not voting?

You seem enthralled by the transcendence of Martin Luther King Jr.'s accomplishments -- yet you ignore the fact that Dr. King was principally fighting for the right of people of color to vote. Get it? Dr. King believed in America, he believed in the values of our country -- and the institutions that, once reformed, would serve all Americans.

He never advocated not voting. He never advocated "sitting it out" -- Dr. King spurred a whole nation into action. And opened the door for millions of people -- including Latinos in the South -- to vote and be able to participate in the democratic system.

And here's the irony: you were born in America. You are not an immigrant. You were educated in our schools. Surely you must know how our system works -- how it has worked for every immigrant group in this country.

You vote, you have power. If you sit home on election day, you let others choose your leaders and therefore the laws that govern our nation. The Arizona anti-Latino laws, now ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, are proof of what happens when Latinos fail to show up at the voting booth.

Recently you told the media -- your new constituency, I suppose -- that you had not decided whether to support Obama for reelection. Does that mean that you will support a GOP candidate? With the exceptions of Newt Gingrich and former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, all other presumptive GOP candidates have come out squarely against immigration reform.

So let's see, you encourage Latinos to blame Obama for your own legislative failure -- and then you encourage Hispanics not to vote, even though a critical part of the Obama coalition is Latino voters. Meanwhile, the Republican Party stands firmly against immigration reform. Effectively you attack the supporters of reform while strengthening its opponents. If there's a strategy here for achieving immigration reform it is as opaque as it is risible.

But you, sir, are the Nativists' best asset. With your high-profile campaign suggesting that Latinos not participate in the mainstream political process, encouraging our community to abandon the ballot box for more useless, even counterproductive marches, you retard immigration reform with every speech you give.

If there ever is a successful reform of immigration policies you will have nothing to talk about. Your burgeoning career as the Latino-whiner-in-Chief will be over and you will have to go back to the mundane job of actually getting laws passed.

As you well know, and as the new census proves, Latinos have the numbers to be the kingmakers in 2012. We will be the determinate voting block for both the presidency and control of Congress.

But unless we get our act together and register millions of citizens who are now hypnotized by your dis-empowering message of non-participation in the democratic process, there is a very real possibility that the next administration and the next Congress elected in 2012 will be in complete opposition to immigration reform -- pushing it back years, if not decades.

So unless you are in fact a double-agent, a tool of the Nativist extremists who are feverishly working to duplicate Arizona's experiment in institutionalized racism across the nation, go back to Congress, roll up your sleeves and get back to work on building an effective coalition to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

Your emotional speeches must give you a huge adrenalin rush -- but America needs less of your made-for-TV drama and and more of a real focus on a smart, strategic reform of our immigration laws so that we can effectively compete in the 21st century.

Your MLK fantasies aside, that means passing new laws. And guess what -- that's your job.

Sincerely,

Fernando Espuelas

 

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