Serrano calls Arizona decision 'troubling,' predicts G.O.P. will say something 'stupid' to offend Latinos
12:26 pm Jun. 25, 2012
Representative Jose Serrano, liberal Bronx Democrat and former chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was still trying to make sense of the Supreme Court's decision on Arizona's controversial immigration law when I spoke to him this morning, first calling the ruling a "partial victory," then revising downward to a "troubling decision."
The Court's decision invalidated some of the key portions of the controversial law, including a provision that allowed Arizona to arrest suspected immigrants. But the decision left in place, for now, a provision that allows law enforcement to demand papers of anyone who appears to be undocumented.
"I think on the whole, some people will consider it a victory," Serrano said. "I still obviously have problems with the fact that they are allowing that 'show me your papers' provision, as we call it … That's just not the way we function in this country. It also opens up the door for general harassment, it always has. It's always been a concern."
Serrano noted that the provision could apply to someone like him, who is a member of Congress, but was born in Puerto Rico.
"I think it could be considered, and I would consider it a partial victory, but I can't consider something that I would jump up and down about, when there's still that provision that allows you to stop me and ask me for my papers," he said. "So on the whole maybe I'll take back and not call it a partial victory, but call it a troubling decision."
He said he hoped that the Court's decision, which firmly asserted the federal government's supremacy in principle when it comes to crafting immigration policy, would provide the impetus for immigration reform in Congress, but he was also realistic about the prospects of anything significant happening in that area during an election year.
Serrano said, on this issue, he's "very partisan," and rattled off his frustrations with Republicans who have blocked the Dream Act.
"It's easy for Marco Rubio to go on yesterday and say, 'You know this is a temporary fix on the Dream Act ... and I had a bill,'" he said. "Yeah, you had a bill but you were also supporting building a fence, so give me a break here."
I asked Serrano about Rubio's claim that some Democrats were eager to leave the issue unresolved for their own political purposes.
"We had immigration reform, we've been begging them for years for a few votes in the House to pass it," he said. "We've been begging them for years not to stop it in the Senate. It's easy for them to say that now, a couple of months before an election, but the history doesn't show that. As far as the Dream Act [Rubio] was complaining so much about, that one is clear. It wasn't stopped by Democrats. They have not moved on this. So to hear Romney say 'I'll take care of this as soon as I get in,' yeah, what does that mean? We've had opportunities to do it."
Serrano said the general level of enthusiasm among voters for Obama may not be what it was in 2008, given the state of the economy, but that the Latino community would be motivated to support the president, in part because of his recent immigration order, and in part because of the Republican "meanness" on the issue.
"I can tell you one thing: reaction from the Latino community to the president's executive order was strong, really strong," he said. "Unfortunately, my Republican friends cannot help themselves, and sometime between now and the election they'll say something really, really, really dumb, that—if there's any doubt Latinos are excited, they'll be very excited."
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