Summary: President Obama’s stunning reversal of his own views on deportation policy is only the most prominent example of influence enjoyed by the National Council of La Raza, which calls itself “the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.” In addition to its sway with the president, the group has seen its government revenues rise with help from a high-level White House staffer and also seen a former member be named to the Supreme Court.
A year ago Murguía seemed to turn against the president. “For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here,” Murguía said. “We consider him the deportation president, or the deporter-in-chief” (Politico, March 4, 2014).
“Deporter-in-chief” was an epithet hurled at Obama by amnesty activists throughout the year. The Obama administration frequently touted the speedy clip of enforcement action since 2009, and so the slogan was calculated to shame the president into slowing the pace.
But it wasn’t true. Deportations have actually fallen under Obama. The administration has manipulated the numbers by changing the definition of “deportation.”
“We respectfully disagree with the president on his ability to stop unnecessary deportations,” Murguía continued. “He can stop tearing families apart. He can stop throwing communities and businesses into chaos.
He can stop turning a blind eye to the harm being done. He does have the power to stop this. Failure to act will be a shameful legacy for his presidency.”
After Obama unveiled his executive action, Murguía decided to walk back the “deporter-in-chief” phrase.
|Janet Murguía, NCLR|
Brian Bennett of the Los Angeles Times debunked the left-wing claim that Obama is keen on deporting illegal aliens in an April 1, 2014 article:
“Expulsions of people who are settled and working in the United States have fallen steadily since his first year in office, and are down more than 40% since 2009. On the other side of the ledger, the number of people deported at or near the border has gone up – primarily as a result of changing who gets counted in the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency’s deportation statistics. The vast majority of those borders crossers would not have been treated as formal deportations under most previous administrations. If all removals were tallied, the total sent back to Mexico each year would have been far higher under those previous administrations than it is now.”The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) publishes an annual Yearbook of Immigration Statistics. Jessica Vaughn of the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies wrote in a December 2013 report that “because the Obama administration has blurred the lines of which agencies can take credit for deportations, the only fair way to assess their performance is to count all deportations done by all the DHS agencies.” The DHS Yearbook showed at the time that Bill Clinton’s administration holds the record for deportations. In the Clinton years, an average of 1,536,363 deportations were carried out.
Vaughn writes that “the total number of aliens ‘sent back’ under [the] first four years of the Obama administration is just over 3.2 million.” This represents an annual average of 800,863 deportations. During the presidency of George W. Bush, there were a total of 10,328,850 deportations, which works out to an average of 1,291,106 deportations per year.
Obama is clearly not hellbent on deporting illegal aliens, but the imagery is politically useful, which is why La Raza and its allies promote it.
Murguía herself was long active in Democratic politics before becoming head of La Raza in 2005. She worked in Bill Clinton’s White House, eventually serving as deputy assistant to the president. Murguía went on to be the deputy campaign manager and director of constituency outreach for the Al Gore presidential campaign in 2000.
From there, she became vice chancellor for university relations at the University of Kansas in 2001. She was an activist in 2004 against the voter-approved Proposition 200 in Arizona, which required residents to prove citizenship before registering to vote or legal immigration status before applying for public benefits.
Murguía does well for herself at La Raza. Her salary alone was $330,513 for the year ended Sept. 30, 2013, and she also received an additional $81,112 in other compensation from La Raza and its related entities. That lands Murguía well into the ranks of the much-maligned 1 percent.
Under her tenure at La Raza, the organization has advocated for speech restrictions. The organization led a campaign in 2008 against advocates of immigration law enforcement, urging that they be taken off of cable TV news networks. A “We Can Stop the Hate” campaign was initiated by La Raza, Center for American Progress, Media Matters, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF). It targeted amnesty opponents, who were described as “hate groups, nativists, and vigilantes” (Discover the Networks).
Borrowing a page from Marxist theoretician Herbert Marcuse, Murguía has also “argued that hate speech should not be tolerated, even if such censorship were a violation of First Amendment rights,” according to a New York Times report of a speech she gave at the National Press Club (Feb. 1, 2008).
Murguía hopes to continue to have the same sway with the next president, and expects Obama’s executive actions to continue in force. “I believe that the next president of the United States will have to come right through the Latino community to get to the White House, and they have to be very thoughtful of how they position themselves on immigration, and I think they have to stay away from this executive order and not try to undo it if they want to be president,” Murguía said during the December C-SPAN interview.
The historic Republican victory in 2014 congressional elections came without the GOP taking any clearly discernible position on comprehensive immigration reform. Still, Murguía said the party wouldn’t win the presidency without supporting amnesty, claiming that in 2016, “the demographics of the Electoral College will come home to roost for Republicans.”
“If they continue on this trajectory, Republicans will have elected their last president for the foreseeable future. Latino voter priorities must be reflected in Republican policy priorities,” Murguía said (Breitbart, Nov. 6, 2014).
Murguía cited the questionable Latino Decisions poll after the 2014 election that said immigration was the top issue with 45 percent of Hispanic voters, ahead of the economy, which registered just 34 percent.
“This is a call to action for both parties,” Murguía said after the Republican tsunami. “We fully expect the president to act boldly, but that action should spur Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform at long last. It’s not an either/or situation. For the good of the nation, we need both the president and Congress to act now. Latinos will expect the GOP to use its majority position to not only make inroads with our community but, most importantly, do what’s in the best interest of our country.” (TheBlaze, Nov. 11, 2014)
La Raza takes part in sophisticated get-out-the-vote operations. Part of that voter-mobilization has come through the “ya es hora ¡VE Y VOTA!” (“It’s Time, Go Vote!”) project, which describes itself as “an historic non-partisan Latino civic participation campaign launched as the Latino community’s action-oriented follow-up to the immigrant mobilizations of 2006. The campaign represents the largest and most comprehensive effort to incorporate Latinos as full participants in the American political process. Unlike past approaches which focused on one component of civic engagement, this multi-layered campaign takes a comprehensive approach that links naturalization to voter participation and Census enumeration under a single message: ‘it’s time.’”
This project is the child of multiple “national Latino organizations including Mi Familia Vota, the NALEO [National Association of Latino Elected and appointed Officials] Educational Fund, the National Council of La Raza and Spanish language media companies Entravision Communications, ImpreMedia and Univision Communications.”
In January 2014, La Raza teamed with the Mi Familia Vota Education Fund for the “Mobilize to Vote 2014” campaign. The goal was to register more than 250,000 new Hispanic voters by mail for that year’s midterm elections. The effort involved three targets:
18-year-olds, registered voters who moved, and the broader Hispanic voting-age public in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Florida, and California (Discover the Networks).
As it turned out, this didn’t help Democrats stay in power. In many cases, Republicans did well with Latino voters. But La Raza’s influence lies in bending policymakers on Capitol Hill and—especially—the White House.
Capital Research Center reached out to National Council of La Raza providing the group opportunities to respond to this article. At press time no response had been received.
Conservatives may not be enthusiastic about La Raza’s political activities, but supporters say it does perform some good works. In a July 23, 2013 speech at La Raza’s annual conference, First Lady Michelle Obama called La Raza a “great American organization” that for more than four decades “has served as a powerful voice on the most important issues of our time — from voting rights to health care, from education to immigration.
Because of all of you, your steadfast work, we have seen such great progress for the Latino community and for our country.”
NCLR boasts that it “conducts applied research, policy analysis, and advocacy, providing a Latino perspective in five key areas — assets/investments, civil rights/immigration, education, employment and economic status, and health. In addition, it provides capacity-building assistance to its Affiliates who work at the state and local level to advance opportunities for individuals and families.”