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Cecilia Muñoz is not just the public face of President Barack Obama’s immigration policy. She has served as his body double, receiving verbal blows from some Latinos for his Administration’s record deportations and for failing to deliver a promise he made as a candidate to reform the system. But is the Hispanic community’s disappointment and anger misplaced?
Muñoz, the White House Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, passionately defends the Administration’s immigration enforcement policies which have resulted in more than one million undocumented immigrants being deported since President Obama took office.
In a White House blog post, Muñoz, who spent the majority of her career advocating for immigration reform, including as a Vice President at the advocacy group the National Council of La Raza, insists the increased deportations are a result of using existing resources in a more “strategic” way to target and privilege the removal of undocumented immigrants who have committed serious crimes:
■ A 70% increase from 2008 to 2010 in the deportation of those with criminal records and a decrease of those without.
■ More than half of all removals are people with criminal records.
■ Among those deported without criminal records, more than two-thirds were either caught as they crossed the border, had recently arrived, or had been repeatedly removed.
In the PBS Frontline documentary, Lost in Detention reported by María Hinojosa this Fall, Muñoz continues to focus on enforcement, specifically the numbers--and not the human toll of Obama’s immigration policy, including countless American citizen children left without a parent or orphaned:
“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….”
Muñoz’s unwavering loyalty to President Obama may help her land a plum assignment; she is rumored to be on the short list to replace Melody Barnes as chief of White House Domestic Policy at the end of the year. But it has also earned her disdain from many Latinos who see her as a modern day traitor--a Malinche, a vendida who has sold out to her powers-that-be.
Progressive Blogger Mario Solís-Marich has asked Muñoz to resign:
“The best hope of Latinos is that the President is being ill advised. Latinos had hoped he would have the internal instinct to know not to harm those that historically supported him but that has not proven to be the case. The President can remedy this but in order to do so he must start anew. Ms. Muñoz has not served her community or her President well. The President must accept Ms. Muñoz’s resignation.”
What would this accomplish?
Will it stop the President from exclusively blaming Republicans for obstructionism in Congress as the obstacle to passing immigration reform?
Will it keep him from denying he can exercise executive authority to halt the deportation proceedings of non-violent undocumented immigrants when he addresses Latinos then talk tough to a mainstream audience by touting his enforcement numbers?
Will Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Immigration, Customs Enforcement Director John Morton--the federal agencies tasked with enforcing immigration laws--order field agents to follow an evolving, yet clearly defined policy?
Forcing out Muñoz won’t change the President’s or his deputies’ rhetoric and practice.
It also won’t take away the sting of disrespect felt by a politically and economically emerging community that helped him win the Presidency.
Casting ballots on Election Day will be important because voters--especially Latinos--giveth and taketh away. No sacrificial lamb can send this powerful message: don’t take any voting group for granted.
Viviana Hurtado’s blog The Wise Latina Club has won "Best Politics Blogger" awards by LATISM and Blogs by Latinas. She is a regular columnist for Fox News Latino. You can follow her on twitter at: @vivianahurtado