Nice catch by the lefties at Mother Jones, delivering a hammer blow to the wedge of suspicion that already separates the GOP base from its congressional leadership on amnesty. There’s no immigration passage in Joni Ernst’s speech; there is one in Carlos Curbelo’s version, written and inserted by Curbelo himself — with the approval of GOP leaders.
In an interview after the speech, Curbelo said he chose to focus on immigration as well as other issues personally important to him – such as education and Cuba – aside from the party’s broader economic message that was reflected in Ernst’s rebuttal.
He had asked for a copy of Ernst’s prepared remarks a few days in advance of Tuesday’s address, and then made his own additions, including the references to immigration. Leadership saw the remarks beforehand and were fine with them, Curbelo said. “I did not get any pushback whatsoever.”
If they wanted an immigration section, okay, but it was awfully stupid to greenlight it for Curbelo without insisting that Ernst include it too. Given conservatives’ well-founded fears that the GOP is prepared to sell out their concerns on amnesty in order to ingratiate themselves with Latino voters, having Ernst and Curbelo deliver different messages for English and Spanish speakers is far dumber than having each of them deliver the same few anodyne platitudes on the subject. And for cripes sake, if you’re going to pander on immigration reform, couldn’t you at least compensate a bit by emphasizing that executive action isn’t the way to go about it? Ernst’s speech contains one brief allusion to that, in all of six words: “We’ll work to correct executive overreach.” If you asked 100 Americans on the street to define “executive overreach,” maybe five could do it. She might as well not have mentioned it at all.
Incidentally, here’s how Politico translates the immigration section of Curbelo’s speech:
“We should also work through the appropriate channels to create permanent solutions for our immigration system, to secure our borders, modernize legal immigration, and strengthen our economy,” said Curbelo in Spanish. “In the past, the president has expressed support for ideas like these. Now we ask him to cooperate with us to get it done.”
The translation in the clip below, from American Bridge, doesn’t mention the part about securing the borders. Neither does Mother Jones’s translation. I think Politico is right, though: I can understand only bits and pieces of Spanish but it sounds like he says “asegurar nuestras fronteras” just before he mentions “modernizing” the immigration system. It’d be more of a scandal if Curbelo omitted border security when addressing a Spanish-language audience. He didn’t.
Speaking of which, the House GOP’s new “security first” bill is “security first” in the sense that they’re going to pass it before they pass an amnesty bill, not that it’ll actually be implemented before they pass a security bill. That’s worth … not much, huh?