Hispanics are tired of Obama’s lip service on immigration reform

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By Kay Bárbaro

For Borderzine from Hispanic Link

WASHINGTON – WE’RE STILL WAITINGCecilia Muñoz, longtime vice president of the National Council of La Raza whose appointment in Jan. 20, 2009, to President Obama’s initial cabinet was seen as a payoff to the Hispanic community for its huge role in Obama’s winning a front-door key to the White House.

Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council. (www.whitehouse.gov)

Cecilia Muñoz, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council. (www.whitehouse.gov)

This, we and many others innocently believed, would ensure that el presidente nuevo would move quickly to make good on his repeated promises to end our undocumented immigrant agony by delivering genuine immigration reform legislation.

Did he?

Of course not.

Back then and frequently thereafter, we heard that Obama’s key non-Hispanic inner brain trust, including current Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, insisted that political expediency required him to reduce his reform priorities to one. Choose it:  a decent, legitimate immigration bill or healthcare reform.

For obvious reasons, health care won. The Latino community’s welfare was reverted to its accustomed position at the tag-end of the line.

Could both goals have been achieved? We’ll never know.

As consolation prize, 53 million U.S. Latinos and Latinas have been awarded more Obama lip service and a basically nativist Senate immigration bill.

An increasing number of Latino ex-believers now have figured out that the White House has betrayed them.

The Obama administration continues by the hour to add to its record of deporting more refugees ­– predominantly Hispanic ones – than has any past president in our “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free” history.

The President’s current diabolic catch-and-ship-out strategy tore nearly two million productive immigrant families to shreds in 2012. He would like us to believe that his “racist” Republican adversaries are the real cause of his inhumane inaction.

Now he has lateraled the initiative to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who wants to spend billions more to lock shut our border with Mexico and piece-meal immigration reform to death. He has shown zero interest in permitting the 11 million undocumented immigrants drawn here ever to become U.S. citizens with a right to vote.

On cue, Cecilia Muñoz, now promoted to Obama’s domestic policy director, gushes the Administration’s joy. She tells the press, “It’s a very big deal.”

Over time, Cecilia’s Casa Blanca position calls on her to do little more than appease fellow Hispanics. She covers Obama’s tracks as his lack of ganas or cojones even drives innocent, born-in-the-USA children “back” to countries where they’ve never been as he imprisons and deports their already exploited parents.  He allows our desert floors to be carpeted with refugees’ bones.

Muñoz’s familial roots trail back to La Paz, Bolivia. Does her fealty to her boss and her White House title, with its $172,000 paycheck, trumps that?

In politics yes, it’s an absolute.  On that one, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and I pretty much agree.

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SO WHO IS KAY BÁRBARO? Every Monday from here forward Hispanic Link DC will include classic historical as well as fresh, often irreverent insights penned by Kay Bárbaro.

Kay contributed her first regular commentary more than 30 years ago, on Sept. 5, 1983. It ran in Hispanic Link’s Vol. 1, No. 1, in her weekly column aptly titled Sin Pelos en La Lengua. Literally translated, that’s “Without hairs on the tongue.” Less literally, “Telling it like it is.”

Following are a few other samples, slightly edited for context, of Kay’s reportage from our very first 1983 edition, when Ronald Reagan was president:

 #1. ENCHILADAS, ANYONE? President Reagan timed his entrance into a hall full of American GI Forumeers in El Paso perfectly this month. With TV cameras rolling, he walked in just as the audience of 2,000 was offering a standing ovation to our gallant hispano Medal of Honor winners.

“Gracías, my amigos,” Reagan said, depleting his Spanglish vocabulary.

His timing had been less perfect days earlier, on meeting Miguel de la Madrid in La Paz when, smiling for the news photographers, he attempted to lay an abrazo on Mexico’s newly elected president. With his own political image to protect, de la Madrid deftly sidestepped Reagan.

Here are two more of Kay barbs that introductory week:

#2.  WHAT I DID ON MY VACATION: …When San Diego Asst. District Attorney Dick Hoffman headed off on a Mexico trip, colleagues chipped in on a cake bidding him, “Hasta la vista y buen viaje.” But the culturally deprived baker goofed and wished him a “buen vieja.”

#3. CLOSE YOUR EYES BEFORE YOU READ THIS ONE: Aurora Flores’ editorial in Latin New York magazine rails against New York Mayor Ed Koch’s trail of broken promises, no-show appointments, and general failure to respond to the support he’s received from N.Y. Latinos. The editorial’s heading, we blushingly report: “Don’t Be a Koch-Sucker!

So who is, or isn’t, this brash Kay Bárbaro?

Charlie Ericksen (Zita Arocha/Borderzine.com)

Charlie Ericksen (Zita Arocha/Borderzine.com)

Kay isn’t. A few of our early staff members, including Steve Padilla, Elaine Rivera, Antonio Mejías Rentas, and Link publisher Charlie Ericksen, all of whom went on to path-finding careers in the media, regularly contributed items to Sin Pelos using Kay’s praenomen. They agreed that “¡Qué bárbaro!” would be an appropriate nom de plume for the gossip column’s author, and thus Kay Bárbaro was born.

Which ghostwriter contributed Kay’s caustic comments about President Obama and Cecilia Muñoz?

It is Hispanic Link publisher Charlie Ericksen, who with his late wife Sebastiana Mendoza and their eldest son Héctor founded the news service. Charlie, a journalist since age 18, celebrates his 84th birthday in the month of February, along with Washington and Lincoln, he points out.

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  1. Love Kay Barbaro! When I have tried to suggest as much, people turn off. But Kay Barbaro has found allies in Falkenberg at the Houston Chronicle and Floyd at the
    Dallas Morning News. The “leaders” running Texas promote themselves, and they
    don’t care about the problems of Texas and the about the pain and suffering they are inflicting on the younger generations. They want an alternate Texas that demographically does not exist, and they need to be educated until they learn that problems have to be dealt with, not avoided. Please keep writing, Kay.

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