CHCI Speeches Deliver More Empty Promises

September 16th, 2010 · 10 Comments

By Bender Bending Gonzalez

If there was one recurring theme at last night’s Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s 33rd Annual Gala, it was the Dream Act and inherently immigration reform. One by one, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and of course President Barack Obama took the stage and delivered the usual “si se puede” and quoted facts such as “Hispanics are the largest growing segment of the population” and “Hispanics have the largest number of business entrepreneurs”. If you have read the Pew Hispanic Center reports dating back to 2002, these facts should not be new to you, but I guess we all need to be reminded of the things we see and live on an everyday basis. After all, this is Hispanic Heritage Month!

As I walked to my hotel room I kept thinking to myself: “I feel so bad for Harry Reid.” The poor guy is fighting to keep his Senate seat in a political climate in which moderate republicans are loosing elections to Tea Party candidates backed by Sarah Palin for Christ sakes. It seems like the candidate’s level of extremism dictates their popularity. The Dream Act could be the single most important piece of legislation in U.S. history to positively impact the Hispanic community. But it almost seems like a “lose-lose” situation for Senator Reid and the Democratic Party. The Senator has committed to introducing the Dream Act next week, and all the speakers at the gala were optimistic about its chances of passing. I really don’t believe so, given the recent election results and the buzz here in Washington is all about how Republicans are going to regain control of the House. Reid is stuck between a rock and a hard place; and to our community, he’ll be both a hero and a villain. A hero for having the courage to bring the legislation to the Senate floor for a vote and a villain because once again we’ll be left with empty promises.

So where are our so called Latino leaders in Congress in all of this? Why don’t they stick out their necks just like Senator Reid is doing? Could it be that putting a Hispanic face to the legislation would cause middle America to freak out even more so than they already are? “You see honey, I told you they were taking over, now they want to give their children access to our universities, while I never even had a chance to go to college and I’m a citizen – I’m voting for the other guy.” That must be their recurring nightmare as they wake up drenched in cold sweat thinking of what they would do with their lives if they had to give up being “el mero mero”.

The second person I felt sorry for was President Obama, but to a lesser degree. I like President Obama, but his speech last night sounded like the same thing I heard two years ago in the campaign trail. Let’s give him credit for appointing Latinos and Latinas to his cabinet, to the Supreme Court, and to important positions all over his administration. In fact, he has appointed more Latinos/as than any other president in history. But that hasn’t translated into the passing of the Dream Act or any sort of comprehensive immigration reform. He and the rest of our “politico” friends were just dangling these issues in front of us, and the crowd acted like the skinny dog dying for a bone. But the truth is, he can’t do it alone, he needs our Congressional Latino Leaders to step-up to the plate, to mobilize, and to “bite the bullet”. Will they be brave enough to do it? Who knows, but I’m going to bet that they won’t.

In the meantime, I am looking forward to watching Senator Harry “el valiente” Reid bring the Dream Act forward for a vote next week and do something that our own Hispanic representatives should have taken ownership of years ago (for more information about the CHC’s reluctance to take on the DREAM Act separately from comprehensive immigration reform see this and this). We have Congressional leaders in California, Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and New York,  and what do they deliver for us? Let’s just say that Latino elected officials are just like beer. So many choices and flavors, and it makes so little difference in the end. All together now, hurray for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus!

Webmaster’s note: Bender Bending Gonzalez has over ten years of experience in government relations, holds a master’s degree in public policy, and will be occasionally contributing blog posts. He attended last night’s CHCI gala.

Tags: Barack Obama · Congressional Hispanic Caucus · Democratic Party · Education · Government Accountability · Immigration · Rep. Nydia Velazquez

10 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Pablo // Sep 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Huzzah Gonzalez, and well put. Where is our Congressional Hispanic Caucus on these issues? I mean, we must remember that we don’t really have numbers in the House, and certainly don’t have numbers in the Senate (where Menendez must hold down the fort as the only Latino there). Nevertheless, it’s interesting you note “the crowd acted like the skinny dog dying for a bone.” Was it really that bad? I mean, Obama has all sorts of star-power, to be sure, but was the mood at all inquisitive or assertive about the absolute failure of the Hispanic caucus to prevent the implosion of Latino’s status & civil liberties this year?

  • 2 IE // Sep 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    Excellent articulation! I totally agree with you. Where are our “fearless” Latino leaders in all of this? It’s a shame that with so few Latino elected officials, they can’t even stand behind such a powerful piece of legislation.

    Nice work BB Gonzales!

  • 3 Anna // Sep 16, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Re: “Why don’t they stick out their necks just like Senator Reid is doing?”

    Is Senator Reid sticking his neck out, or is he just trying to take Hispanic votes from Sandoval? According to the link, Reid is trailing Sandoval by double digits. If he introduces this legislation Sandoval will be forced to take a position on it. This is Reid’s Hail Mary pass. In any case, I am glad that Reid is introducing it.

    As for Obama, I can’t believe anybody thinks that he wants the Dream Act or CIR to pass. Why do so many people eat up his BS?

  • 4 webmaster // Sep 16, 2010 at 11:13 pm

    Just to clarify Senator Harry Reid is running against Sharron Angle:,8599,2019441,00.html

    Rory Reid, the senator’s son, is running against Brian Sandoval in Nevada for the governor’s race, and the younger Reid is the one trailing.

  • 5 Bender Bending Gonzalez // Sep 17, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Thank you webmaster. The latest polls indicate Senator Reid only leads by 3%, with that same margin of error.

  • 6 Anna // Sep 17, 2010 at 12:26 pm

    Thanks for the correction!

  • 7 Michaelr // Sep 19, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    Welcome Bender Bending Gonzalez to our tiny club of enlightened Latinos who don’t go along with the Hispanic Caucus just because they have Spanish surnames. Our so-called Hispanic Congressional representation is proud to sit in Congress for ten years or more and not accomplish anything. See Loretta Sanchez for example. But you can bet if Anhauser-Busch, or Miller/Coors is throwing a party they are all there using taxpayer monies to pay for their travel, and grovel for corporate handouts guaranteeing they will do nothing for their community and keep the status quo. Is the Latino Apologist listening?

  • 8 Bender Bending Gonzalez // Sep 20, 2010 at 11:17 am

    Thank you Michael. I couldn’t agree with you more. The Dream Act is being presented on the Senate floor tomorrow and I have yet to see one of our representatives speaking about it on television or radio. But one thing is for sure, if it does not pass, they will be on all over the airwaves talking about its failure and playing the victim role, which is something they do extremely well. All of them!

  • 9 Alejandro Llantada // Sep 28, 2010 at 9:47 am

    “Let’s just say that Latino elected officials are just like beer. So many choices and flavors, and it makes so little difference in the end. Well, they can bite my shiny metal ass!” hahaha

  • 10 Sharron Angle Attacks Senator Reid Over DREAM Act // Oct 10, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    […] Bender Bending Gonzalez reminded us a few weeks ago, when Senator Reid opted to bring up the DREAM Act for a vote as an amendment to […]

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