Dolores Huerta pulled a “Cecilia Muñoz” in an interview with VOXXI this week, defending President Obama’s decision to delay action on immigration.
“We have to look at the big picture and don’t get caught up in saying we want it now… We’ve been waiting—we are a community that can wait. And we have to have faith in our president, because the Republicans have shown their hand. We know what they want to do.”
It’s a strategically timed statement as backlash against Obama’s decision continues.
Huerta’s talking points are similar to that of Muñoz, Obama’s top immigration advisor/defender. Both blame Republicans and insist that action will happen at the “right time.” Meanwhile, those whose lives are directly affected decry the daily deportations of 1,000 immigrants, many of whom have no criminal record.
Huerta’s support of the increasingly unpopular President is not that surprising. Her characterization of Obama’s deportation record as a political “miscalculation” was a slap on the wrist. When a group of Latino organizations called out Muñoz for defending that record and flat-out lying that most deported immigrants were serious criminals, it was Huerta who jumped to her defense.
Like Huerta’s defense of Muñoz, Huerta’s defense of Obama has largely been swept under the rug by mainstream media. It did, however, strike a nerve in the bustling online Latino community. Tweets expressing disappointment in the beloved legend outnumbered posts by Latinos who agreed that the delay is the “best strategy.”
With all due respect to the history-making pasts of both women, their decision to ask the Latino community to continue to believe in Obama’s broken promises is dead wrong.
Huerta and Muñoz are feeding into the false dichotomy that Latinos only have two choices: Republicans who will destroy our basic human rights or Democrats who will fight for us if we allow ourselves to bleed just “a little” more.
Imagine the impact if Dolores Huerta, the most recognized Latina leader in the U.S., and Cecilia Muñoz, the highest-ranking Latina in the White House, would stand up to the President instead of enabling him…if they rallied the 54 million Latinos in the U.S. to say, “Ya Basta!” instead of “Si se puede…mañana.*”
If only Muñoz would resurrect her 2006 inner rebel, when she argued:
“It’s riskier not acting on immigration reform. On both sides of the aisle. And for either Republicans or Democrats to come to any community and say, we worked this issue to an impasse and now please vote for us, I think is not a good election strategy.” (Muñoz on NPR in 2006 when she worked at NCLR)
And even a year later when she said that “Democrats who hope to earn a larger percentage of the Latino vote simply because they are better than Republicans will miss an opportunity to energize the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country.”
Instead we move back even further to 13 years ago when Muñoz explained:
“This really gives President Bush an opportunity really to stand up to the pretty small but pretty vocal anti-immigrant wing of his party. That’s a wing that has been pushing Latino voters, immigrant voters into the arms of the Democrats.”
Replace “Bush” with “Obama” and “Democrats” with “third-party candidates” and Muñoz captures perfectly this moment in history. Latinos have the power to cut the two-headed dragon at the neck if we vote third-party.
But voting alone is a cop-out.
Remember who has pushed forward the immigration debate the most–undocumented activists. It is undocumented youth activists who captured the nation’s attention, transformed the immigration debate, and put enough pressure to force some action—all without the power to vote.
Latinos need to plan acts of civil disobedience. We need to march in numbers higher than in 2006, when millions of shades of brown took to the streets to demand the same thing we are still asking for so many years later. The time has been now. Don’t let any Latino tell you different.
[Credits: Huerta photo by U.S. Department of Labor; Muñoz photo by Chris Smith for White House HHS; *”Si se puede…manana is a quote by DA Morales in response to Huerta’s statement and is used with his permission.]