Republicans Talk Immigration Reform In Spanish SOTU Response, No Mention Of It In English


Do you need any more evidence that Republican minds are stuck in the past than the way they handle “plausible deniability?” Think back over the past few years. How many times has a Republican been caught on a video or audio recording, saying or doing something stupid or offensive, and then tried to claim they never said or did it? It’s like they think that recording technology doesn’t exist.

Republicans tried to pull another fast one on America, with two different versions of their response to President Obama’s State of the Union address. They got caught.

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Steve Benin, writing at MSNBCsays that, for the third year in a row, the Republican response to the SOTU was delivered in both English and Spanish. The English response was presented by newly minted Iowa Senator Joni Ernst. The Spanish language response was delivered by Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo.

In past years the Spanish version was merely a translation of the English version. But this year the two were very different in several ways, including one key area: immigration reform.

As Benin observes, if Republicans had said in advance that the speeches would be different, there would be no issue. But, in the days leading up to the address, a variety of media were saying that Curbelo’s speech would be a simple translation of the English version. Here’s how it was reported in the conservative National Review:

Representative Carlos Curbelo of Florida, another freshmen lawmaker, will give the Spanish-language Republican response next week, a translated version of what Ernst will give.

After a Mother Jones story on Tuesday morning criticized Republicans for making Curbelo parrot the words of Joni Ernst, who supports making English the national language, the GOP hinted that the speeches may not be identical. But, as of Tuesday afternoon, it was still believed that the only differences between the two would be minor, with Curbelo replacing Ernst’s stories about growing up in Iowa with personal recollections of his own.

Immigration reform gets pitched to Spanish language listeners only:

The differences between the two speeches turned out to be anything but minor. Ernst never mentioned a word about immigration reform to English language listeners. But, for those listening in Spanish, Curbelo had this to say.

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. In the past, the president has expressed support for ideas like these. Now we ask him to cooperate with us to get it done.

And immigration reform wasn’t the only area where there were differences. “Vox” offers eight places where those listening to Curbelo heard something different than those listening to Ernst. Some of the differences were minor, but others were quite noticeable.

Take Obamacare, for example. Ernst said:

[W]hen we demanded solutions, too often Washington responded with the same stale mindset that led to failed policies like Obamacare.

Curbelo’s version of that was:

[W]hen the people of the United States has demanded solutions from Washington, the government’s responded with failed policies that have widened the income gap between rich and poor in our country.

Steve Benin says that this is something Republicans have pulled before. Benin describes how, about three years ago, Nevada Republican Senator Dean Heller set up two versions of a campaign website, one in English, one in Spanish. The two sites offered very different takes on immigration, with the English site being more harsh, while the Spanish site was more moderate, and concilliatory.

Republicans should realize that people use technology to record these things, and analyze them. It would also be good if they would wake up and realize that the English and Spanish audiences are not mutually exclusive to one another, but that some Americans do actually speak both languages. They’re either too stupid to know that, or, more than likely they just don’t care.

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