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Stay the Course, Rick Perry

There is only one Republican running for president who is dealing with the immigration issue honestly.

by
Ruben Navarrette Jr.

Bio

September 28, 2011 - 12:00 am
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No sooner had the administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security would, under pressure from the left, review 300,000 deportation cases in the queue to see if any of those people should remain in the United States than Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced at a Washington breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor that — even with the changes — the administration would maintain a “very robust” deportation policy.

How did this get so confusing?

Let’s start at the beginning. Obama is sworn in as president but must immediately contend with a segment of the American people who believes he is foreign-born and thus naturally sympathetic to foreigners. Determined to prove them wrong, Obama appoints Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano — an immigration hardliner who once declared a “state of emergency” along the U.S-Mexico border — as Homeland Security secretary. Napolitano proceeds to deport 1 million illegal immigrants by bending the rules, roping local police into the Arizona-style enforcement of immigration law through the Secure Communities program, and — according to a report by the National Immigration Law Center — allegedly violating the due process rights of apprehended immigrants.

Activists on the Left catch wind of this and begin to stage public protests; Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-IL, an outspoken immigration reform advocate, is twice arrested outside the White House. The administration responds by promising to review active deportation cases, while not saying anything about how future cases will be handled. Then, while the activists are still celebrating, Napolitano throws cold water on any hopes that it is some sort of dramatic sea change by promising to maintain a “very robust” deportation policy.

All of this confusion on the Left creates an opportunity on the Right. As damaged as the GOP brand is with Latinos, it can be repaired — but only if Republicans put forward candidates who do something the Obama administration has had trouble doing with the immigration issue: deal with it honestly.

Right now, there is only one Republican running for president who is doing that.

Stay the course, Rick Perry. The future of your party depends on it.

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Ruben Navarrette Jr. is a member of the editorial board of the San Diego Union Tribune, a nationally syndicated columnist, a frequent lecturer, and a regular contributor to CNN.com.
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