Latino Orgs Defend Cecilia Muñoz, Amid Calls for Her Resignation

Latino Orgs Defend Cecilia Muñoz, Amid Calls for Her Resignation

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A Latino radio host and blogger is calling for Cecilia Muñoz to resign from the White House for her defense of the administration’s deportation policies. Presente.org, the immigrant rights group that led the petition to get CNN’s Lou Dobbs off the air, is demanding that Muñoz denounce the Secure Communities program.

In response, a group of some of the nation’s leading immigrant advocacy organizations released a statement Monday in support of Muñoz.

The controversy may reveal a difference of opinion within the immigrant rights movement over which strategy to take when advocating for the rights of immigrants in the United States.

At the center of the storm is Muñoz, a longtime immigrant rights organizer who now works for an administration that has overseen the deportation of a record number of undocumented immigrants.

Before joining the White House, Muñoz worked for the National Council of La Raza, where she was known as an advocate for immigrants’ rights. Muñoz was appointed Director of Intergovernmental Affairs in 2009, and has since gotten flak from some immigration advocates for her statements defending the Obama administration’s policies. Among the most controversial is Secure Communities, the program that requires municipal police to share the fingerprints of all arrestees with federal immigration authorities. The administration claims that the program focuses on deporting criminals, but critics argue that many of those deported under the program have been undocumented immigrants with no criminal record.

Mario Solis-Marich, senior editor of Mario Wire and host of the Mario Solis-Marich Show on 760 AM in Denver, called for Muñoz to resign in August after reading her defense of the Secure Communities program on the White House blog.

“Not only were they (the federal government) implementing a policy in an inhumane fashion, but they were trying to triangulate the community,” said Solis-Marich, who wrote in his own blog: “Since Ms. Munoz can’t seem to move the internal White House dialogue into a more humane position on immigration she should resign with honor.”

According to Solis-Marich, others joined in the call for Muñoz to resign after she appeared in a Frontline documentary about federal immigration detention centers that aired on public television on Oct. 18. On that program, Muñoz said this about the record number of deportations under the Obama administration:

"At the end of the day, when you have immigration law that’s broken and you have a community of 10 million, 11 million people living and working in the United States illegally, some of these things are going to happen. Even if the law is executed with perfection, there will be parents separated from their children. They don’t have to like it, but it is a result of having a broken system of laws. And the answer to that problem is reforming the law...."

“Being Latina does not give you a license to advocate for, and spin around, policies that devastate Latinas,” said Presente.org co-founder Roberto Lovato. “Presente.org has attacked right-wing people like Lou Dobbs,” Lovato said. “Muñoz is out there talking about immigrants like she’s a Republican white man. The messenger has changed, but the message is the same.”

In response to the call for Muñoz’s resignation, some of the nation’s leading immigrant rights groups released a joint statement Monday in defense of Muñoz. The statement was signed by 18 organizations including the Center for Community Change, National Council of La Raza, Asian American Justice Center, National Immigration Forum, America’s Voice and National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

“A lot of leaders in the immigrant rights community wanted to make sure that the debate (over Cecilia Muñoz) does not become a distraction from the real issues at hand: the way the administration is enforcing the law,” explained Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change.

“The administration’s policies are causing real harm and suffering and they need to be changed,” said Bhargava. “Cecilia is not the cause of those bad policies, and we are confident that she is doing everything she can to improve them.”

Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), one of the organizations that signed the letter, explained, “We have known Cecilia Muñoz for many years and although we disagree with her statements as of late defending the indefensible, we believe her to be a woman of integrity, compassion, and deep commitment to work on behalf of all immigrants. While it is unfortunate she has to be one of the spokespersons for the failed Obama administration’s immigration policy, we are not going to lump everyone together and lose the few allies we have in the White House.”

The Department of Homeland Security announced last month that it had deported 396,000 individuals in the last year – the largest number in the agency’s history. The deportations were carried out in fiscal year 2011, which ended Sept. 30. Forty-five percent of deportees had not been convicted of any crime.

But the White House also touts several “dramatic improvements” to the U.S. immigration system under the Obama administration.

Luis Miranda, the White House’s director of Hispanic media, said the Obama administration has developed “clear immigration enforcement priorities for the first time ever that include focusing on those with criminal records, a smarter approach from a law enforcement perspective that also better reflects our nation’s values.” Among these changes are reforms to the immigration detention system to prioritize the safety of detainees, the launch of a case-by-case review process to focus federal enforcement resources on the highest priority individuals, and improvements to the Secure Communities program to more effectively target criminals.

“Arguments that suggest nothing has been done, even while we continue to try to make progress in Congress, are flat out wrong,” said Miranda, who noted that the president has faced opposition from Republicans in Congress on key proposals that would have benefited immigrant communities, including comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.

For Solis-Marich, the controversy over Cecilia Muñoz reveals a “real difference of opinion about what our position is as Latinos in the political make-up of the Democratic Party.”

“We no longer have to be grateful (to have a Latino in the White House) or protect somebody while they’re there,” said Solis-Marich. “There’s no use of having somebody in the White House if she’s not protecting the community.”

“Even immigrant rights advocates have given the green light to the administration’s use of ‘get-tough’ language,” added Lovato of Presente.org.

In 2008, reporter Sam Stein broke a story on a confidential study that encouraged Democrats to use harsher language to discuss immigration by emphasizing “requiring immigrants to become legal” rather than stressing a path to legalization for the undocumented.

The study, called “Winning The Immigration Debate,” was put together by the Center for American Progress and the Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform, of which Cecilia Muñoz, who was with the National Council of La Raza at the time, was a board member.

Looming behind the controversy over Cecilia Muñoz is the approaching 2012 presidential election, when the Latino voter turnout could be key to Obama’s re-election.

Solis-Marich acknowledged that no Republican presidential candidate would “be any better” for immigrants and the Latino community than Obama has been, but added that, “If I come to believe that (staying home on Election Day) would get the administration to move, that’s what I would advocate.”


 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Nov 2 2011

Since she worked for the racist organization "LaRaza", she should not have any position in a tax-payer funded institution, let alone the White House.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 2 2011

La Raza is a term used to describe the Latino Community, Now your comment is racist because she is of Latino Descent.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 2 2011

“There’s no use of having somebody in the White House if she’s not protecting the community.”
I think that means that some Latinos think they can break immigration laws as long as they have someone like Muñoz working behind the scenes. That is not the way justice should work. We are still a nation of laws.

TheseAreTheDays

Posted Nov 2 2011

When you become a Judas (traitor), such as Muñoz has done for a fistful of dollars and some power and prestige, you are likely to wind up being held accountable to both sides of the issue. This appears to have happened to Muñoz, and it couldn't happen to a more deserving, two-timing, selfish, egocentric, self-agrandizing individual. I hope she resigns; her defense by those organizations is an obvious orchestration of the Obama White House. The whole thing is sickening.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 2 2011

It's her job to deport illegal aliens right? I think the supporters of illegal aliens are just pissed off that they can't get their own way.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 2 2011

The Latinos deportation it is not a democrat or republican issue,but both party has betray their people therefore, we must abstain to vote for neither .on this election we must restrain and stay together to punish those responsible at the White House.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 3 2011

LA RAZA is a term invented by Latinos to indicate that they are "the only race". Americans perceive that as "the master race" just like Hitler used. But since Mexico did not send a single soldier to fight Nazi Germany during WW2, most Americans realize that Mexico was an ally to Hitler.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 3 2011

A quote from a LaRaza website "That two-sentence motto is chilling to everyone who values equal rights for all. It says: "For The Race everything. Outside The Race, nothing."

Anonymous

Posted Nov 4 2011

She is the person appointed by the President. If you don't like Obama's approach to immigrantion, then you can always vote for Cain. If you can't vote, then speak all you want (because America works like that) but understand that it doesn't count towards government priorities. If you want to vote so bad, then apply for citizenship so you can.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 8 2011

covering her behind by playing the latino card and felling as though because she is latina she can get with towing the official white house line. with people like her who needs enemies. we need someone who will stand behind immigrants not make excuses for seperating and tearing families apart. whose side is she on. when you have someone who can make a difference from the inside, then they should do exactly that. la raza is not a racist organization but pride in our race. i like being a hyphenated american, but first and foremost i am an american. how many republican lawmakers are living off the public tit.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 17 2011

Funny how the law doesn't apply to Wall St crooks who have stolen trilions of dollars.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 17 2011

Mexico was not a German ally you ignorant racist. In fact, Mexicans took in thousands of Jews during WWII, and a Mexican diplomat named Gilberto Bosques Saldivar, also known as the Mexican Schindler, rescued thousands of Jews by issuing them visas to Mexico. He was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo for one year.

People who accuse Mexicans of being racist, or who accuse NCLR of being racist are really just engaging in projection.


Anonymous

Posted Nov 17 2011

Mexico was not a German ally you ignorant racist. In fact, Mexicans took in thousands of Jews during WWII, and a Mexican diplomat named Gilberto Bosques Saldivar, also known as the Mexican Schindler, rescued thousands of Jews by issuing them visas to Mexico. He was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo for one year.

People who accuse Mexicans of being racist, or who accuse NCLR of being racist are really just engaging in projection.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 17 2011

Mexico was not a German ally you ignorant racist. In fact, Mexicans took in thousands of Jews during WWII, and a Mexican diplomat named Gilberto Bosques Saldivar, also known as the Mexican Schindler, rescued thousands of Jews by issuing them visas to Mexico. He was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo for one year.

People who accuse Mexicans of being racist, or who accuse NCLR of being racist are really just engaging in projection.

Anonymous

Posted Nov 17 2011

Mexico was not a German ally you ignorant racist. In fact, Mexicans took in thousands of Jws during WWII, and a Mexican diplomat named Gilberto Bosques Saldivar, also known as the Mexican Schindler, rescued thousands by issuing them visas to Mexico. He was captured and imprisoned by the Gestapo for one year.

People who accuse Mexicans of being racist, or who accuse NCLR of being racist are really just engaging in projection.

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