During a recent speech to a largely Hispanic audience in Reno, Nevada, Hillary Clinton skewered Donald Trump for spreading “prejudice and paranoia.” The Democratic nominee seized upon a popular Mexican refrain that essentially amounts to guilt by association.
“There’s an old Mexican proverb that says, ‘Tell me with whom you walk, and I will tell you who you are,” she told supporters.
In Spanish: “Dime con quien andas y te dire quien eres.”
Trump’s goal, Clinton said, is to “make America hate again.” After all, she added, look at the Republican’s spiteful handling of the immigration issue.
All true. But the problem is that Clinton is the wrong person to judge others by the company they keep – especially on the immigration issue, where her hands are far from clean. Just look at some of her closest associates:
▪ Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is a longtime friend, and he was a top adviser to President Bill Clinton. Emanuel endorsed Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign back in 2014, before it was even launched. It’s no wonder that CNN earlier this year that “few people are closer to the Clintons than Emanuel.”
In the 1990s, while working in the White House, Emanuel urged Bill Clinton to be as tough on immigration enforcement as President Richard Nixon was on crime – with the same objective of attracting white voters. In 2006, while serving in Congress, Emanuel helped Democrats take back the House of Representatives. All Democrats had to do to keep it, he convinced himself, was to push immigration reform so far onto the back burner than it fell off the stove. He told Hispanic lawmakers that the issue was “the third rail.” You touch it, you die.
One of those lawmakers, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., later endorsed one of Emanuel’s opponents in Chicago’s 2011 mayoral race, and even cut a commercial where he blamed his former colleague for the fact that Congress never achieved immigration reform.
If we were to hand out grades on how one handled the immigration issue, Emanuel would get a “D.”
▪ Then there is Hillary’s husband, the former president who adopted Emanuel’s cynical advice to ratchet up deportations in order to appeal to white voters.
Bill Clinton also militarized the U.S.-Mexico border by increasing the amount of fencing and Border Patrol agents at three different points – in California, Arizona and Texas. Human rights activists who work on the border say the crackdown led to countless deaths since immigrants were funneled into crossing through mountains and deserts.
Finally, Clinton signed into law the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996. IIRIRA made it easier to deport people and harder for them to come back legally because it bars re-entry for 10 years following a deportation. This dreadful piece of legislation is something that immigration attorneys have to battle against every single day.
Bill Clinton’s grade: “D-.”
▪ Finally, there is President Obama, in whose administration Hillary Clinton served as secretary of state. Obama quickly broke his campaign promise to make immigration reform a top priority and, in his two terms, has deported nearly 3 million people, destroyed hundreds of thousands of families, and banished to foster care tens of thousands of U.S.-born children whose parents were deported.
He pushed back for three years against immigration reformers who pleaded with him to use executive power to halt deportations by denying that he had such power. Obama miraculously discovered this authority in 2012 when he ran for re-election and needed to re-energize Latino voters, and made a similar discovery in 2014 when he tried to help Democratic members of Congress in the midterms.
The president also claimed untruthfully that his administration was largely deporting criminals and “gangbangers” when a review of the data showed otherwise.
Finally, Obama removed tens of thousands of Central American refugees – mostly women and children – and imprisoned thousands more indefinitely in bleak detention facilities, most without due process. And Obama tried to cover up his crimes against humanity by blaming Republicans for the evil that his administration carried out.
Obama’s grade: “F.”
These charlatans are Hillary Clinton’s peeps. She walks with them. And so – according to that Mexican proverb she likes so much – this should tell us exactly who she is.
Ruben Navarrette Jr., formerly of Sanger, now writes for The Washington Post Writer’s Group. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.