To judge Clin­ton on im­mi­gra­tion, look at the com­pany she’s kept

Cecil Whig - - OPINION - Ruben Navarette Jr.

— Dur­ing a re­cent speech to a largely His­panic au­di­ence in Reno, Ne­vada, Hil­lary Clin­ton skew­ered Don­ald Trump for spread­ing “prej­u­dice and para­noia.” The Demo­cratic nom­i­nee seized upon a pop­u­lar Mex­i­can re­frain that es­sen­tially amounts to guilt by as­so­ci­a­tion.

“There’s an old Mex­i­can proverb that says, ‘Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are,” she told sup­port­ers.

In Span­ish: “Dime con quien an­das y te dire quien eres.”

Trump’s goal, Clin­ton said, is to “make Amer­ica hate again.” Af­ter all, she added,


look at the Repub­li­can’s spite­ful han­dling of the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue.

All true. But the prob­lem is that Clin­ton is the wrong per­son to judge oth­ers by the com­pany they keep — es­pe­cially on the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue, where her hands are far from clean. Just look at some of her clos­est associates:

— Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a long­time friend, and he was a top ad­viser to Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. Emanuel en­dorsed Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign back in 2014, be­fore it was even launched. It’s no won­der that CNN ear­lier this year that “few peo­ple are closer to the Clin­tons than Emanuel.”

In the 1990s, while work­ing in the White House, Emanuel urged Bill Clin­ton to be as tough on im­mi­gra­tion en­force­ment as Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon was on crime — with the same ob­jec­tive of at­tract­ing white vot­ers. In 2006, while serv­ing in Congress, Emanuel helped Democrats take back the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives. All Democrats had to do to keep it, he con­vinced him­self, was to push im­mi­gra­tion re­form so far onto the back burner than it fell off the stove. He told His­panic law­mak­ers that the is­sue was “the third rail.” You touch it, you die.

One of those law­mak­ers, Rep. Luis Gu­tier­rez, D-Ill., later en­dorsed one of Emanuel’s op­po­nents in Chicago’s 2011 may­oral race, and even cut a com­mer­cial where he blamed his for­mer col­league for the fact that Congress never achieved im­mi­gra­tion re­form.

If we were to hand out grades on how one han­dled the im­mi­gra­tion is­sue, Emanuel would get a “D.”

— Then there is Hil­lary’s hus­band, the for­mer pres­i­dent who adopted Emanuel’s cyn­i­cal ad­vice to ratchet up de­por­ta­tions in or­der to ap­peal to white vot­ers.

Bill Clin­ton also mil­i­ta­rized the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der by in­creas­ing the amount of fenc­ing and Bor­der Pa­trol agents at three dif­fer­ent points — in Cal­i­for­nia, Ari­zona and Texas. Hu­man rights ac­tivists who work on the bor­der say the crack­down led to count­less deaths since im­mi­grants were fun­neled into cross­ing through moun­tains and deserts.

Fi­nally, Clin­ton signed into law the Il­le­gal Im­mi­gra­tion Re­form and Im­mi­grant Re­spon­si­bil­ity Act of 1996. IIRIRA made it eas­ier to de­port peo­ple and harder for them to come back legally be­cause it bars re-en­try for 10 years fol­low­ing a de­por­ta­tion. This dread­ful piece of leg­is­la­tion is some­thing that im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­neys have to bat­tle against ev­ery sin­gle day.

Bill Clin­ton’s grade: “D-.”

— Fi­nally, there is Pres­i­dent Obama, in whose ad­min­is­tra­tion Hil­lary Clin­ton served as sec­re­tary of state. Obama quickly broke his cam­paign prom­ise to make im­mi­gra­tion re­form a top pri­or­ity and, in his two terms, has de­ported nearly 3 mil­lion peo­ple, de­stroyed hundreds of thou­sands of fam­i­lies, and ban­ished to foster care tens of thou­sands of U.S.-born chil­dren whose par­ents were de­ported. He pushed back for three years against im­mi­gra­tion re­form­ers who pleaded with him to use ex­ec­u­tive power to halt de­por­ta­tions by deny­ing that he had such power. Obama mirac­u­lously dis­cov­ered this au­thor­ity in 2012 when he ran for re-elec­tion and needed to re-en­er­gize Latino vot­ers, and made a sim­i­lar dis­cov­ery in 2014 when he tried to help Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress in the midterms.

The pres­i­dent also claimed un­truth­fully that his ad­min­is­tra­tion was largely de­port­ing crim­i­nals and “gang­bangers” when a re­view of the data showed other­wise. Fi­nally, Obama re­moved tens of thou­sands of Cen­tral Amer­i­can refugees — mostly women and chil­dren — and im­pris­oned thou­sands more in­def­i­nitely in bleak de­ten­tion fa­cil­i­ties, most with­out due process. And Obama tried to cover up his crimes against hu­man­ity by blam­ing Repub­li­cans for the evil that his ad­min­is­tra­tion car­ried out. Obama’s grade: “F.” These char­la­tans are Hil­lary Clin­ton’s peeps. She walks with them. And so — ac­cord­ing to that Mex­i­can proverb she likes so much — this should tell us ex­actly who she is.

Ruben Navarette Jr. is a syn­di­cated colum­nist from the Washington Post. His email is reuben@ruben­

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