This column, like most of the columns I write, came from Twitter this morning.
— sdmattpotter (@sdmattpotter) October 30, 2012
The tweet took me to a column by José Gaspar of The Bakersfield Californian, which led me to the following video that NBC Latino posted last week.
So, let me get this straight: Pedro Rios is a Republican candidate running for California’s state assembly in Kern County against Democrat Rudy Salas. When Rios was nine years old, his uncle paid a smuggler to bring Rios from Sinaloa, Mexico to California.
Rios became a citizen through the 1986 immigration law signed by President Reagan. He served in the National Guard, was a teacher, and is now a small-business owner. He is a great example of how hard work and determination can lead to success in America.
But — and this is the mandatory BUT in ALL CAPS — Rios needs an attitude adjustment. Really? You got yours and now you will walk away from DREAMers because it is all about “crumbs” and not the “whole pie”?
Does Rios not read polls, like the one released by Pew that shows (wait for it) 91 percent of Latinos supporting the DREAM Act? Ok, I admire that Rios believes strongly in his positions, but he misses the target big time. Like Gaspar says in his column, “…let’s get real here. This is Kern County, where the undocumented are demonized and blamed for all that ails society. Right-wing politicians conveniently use the undocumented for cheap political purposes.”
Rios’ story is one that deserves attention. However, Rios doesn’t go far enough when it comes to defending his positions about immigration. He tells Gaspar, “I am a Republican that will change that mentality about the undocumented, and if I have to go against my own party, I will.”
Ok, then do it. Go against the grain. Or is it best to not rock the boat because you need votes?
When I went to Rios’ official campaign site this morning, I was hoping that his intentions to become a different Republican would be clearly stated. On the Issues page, there were positions about state budget deficits; government regulation; economy and jobs; high-speed rail; water and agriculture; education; and crime. Nothing about immigration.
His official bio reads: “Pedro Rios was born in Mexico, but immigrated to America when he was only nine years old, and eventually, he settled in Delano, California.” Guess he left out some details. Hey, you don’t want to mess up your narrative, do you?
The issue, as Gaspar notes, is that Kern County Democrats have their own problem with this topic. Salas has already said that Rios’ story is a non-issue, but Candi Easter, chair of the Democratic Party of Kern County told Gaspar: “I have no issue with [Rios' story]. I think it’s honorable that Rios came here undocumented and became a citizen. But what I find dishonorable is his opposition to the DREAM Act.”
I agree with Easter. This is not about Rios’ story, it is about not being truthful and also about turning his back to others who share a similar story as his. Hey, DREAMers, I was once like you, but now that I am an American citizen, too bad.
“If people have a problem with it, so be it,” Rios told Gaspar.
Yes, it’s a problem. Congrats, Pedro, for getting yours and for not fighting for the “crumbs.” Sometimes you need to get the crumbs first before the whole pie is yours.