Ruben Navarrette Jr.

 Ruben Navarrette is a fresh and increasingly important voice in the national political debate. His twice-weekly column offers new thinking on many of the major issues of the day, especially on thorny questions involving ethnicity and national origin. His column is syndicated worldwide by The Washington Post Writers Group.

Navarrette draws on both his knowledge of policy and politics and his life experiences to provide meaningful and hard-hitting commentary. He is a widely sought speaker on Latino affairs, has worked as a substitute teacher in classes from kindergarten to high school, and has hosted radio talk shows. 
Honors & Awards:
  • 2004 2nd place in the National Headliner Awards
  • 2006 3rd place in the National Headliners Awards presented by the Press Club of Atlantic City
  • 2002 & 2003, the Dallas Observer named him Best Columnist at a Daily Newspaper
Books by Ruben Navarrette Jr.:  

A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano (1993)

Buy it from Amazon

Contributer to Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul (2000), of the best-selling "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.

Buy it from Amazon
Recent Articles

RUBEN NAVARRETTE COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, and thereafter. Web release Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Navarrette clients only)

By RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.

SAN DIEGO -- It's no fairy tale to say that the immigration debate could really use more Goldilocks solutions -- not too hard or too soft, not open borders or a tightly sealed door. We need answers that are just right.

Negotiations will often turn on being able to take half a loaf. But President Trump's new offer to end the government shutdown -- with what he billed as a "common-sense compromise both parties can embrace" -- is more like a crumb.

Trump is asking for $5.7 billion to build a "steel barrier" along a sliver of the U.S.-Mexico border, along with billions of dollars more for drug-detection technology, border patrol agents, immigration judges, and humanitarian aid for refugees. In exchange, the president offered to re-instate provisional legal status for three years for the hundreds of thousands of undocumented young people who signed up for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Trump ended that program in September 2017, thereby sending recipients spiraling toward an uncertain future that could include forcible removal. Under Trump's latest pitch, these young people couldn't be deported for three years, but they'd have no permanent legal status. They would remain at the whim of a political system that has shown them little regard, and their special dispensation could we taken away with the stroke of a pen.

That's weak porridge. You would think someone who has wreaked so much havoc on the lives of so many would have more to give by way of a remedy than simply kicking the can down the road past his re-election campaign in 2020.

Still, none of this lets Democrats off the hook. They've been louses where immigrants are concerned, simultaneously acting tough and compassionate. It's maddening, the con they run.

Their quick repudiation of Trump's offer -- even before the ink was dry -- tells us they don't think the shutdown is costing them politically because Trump is catching the blame. It also confirms that Democrats are as duplicitous as ever when it comes to immigration. In fact, they are often part of the problem.

It's sad. The modern Democratic Party flips John F. Kennedy's famous line on its head: It never asks what it can do for Dreamers, only what holding Dreamers hostage can do for it.

Meanwhile, on the cultural right -- which is populated by racists who worry that America is overrun by Latino immigrants from south of the border -- critics tore into Trump for allegedly offering lawbreakers a full-blown "amnesty" with all the trimmings.

Ringleader Ann Coulter -- who considers it her sacred duty to prevent the eradication of white people in a nation that is still run by them -- has written and said too many racially insensitive things to list here.

About the president's plan, Coulter tweeted, "Trump's solution: Let's just amnesty them!" Someone needs to bone up on the English language. Amnesties are permanent and unconditional. What Trump proposes is neither.

The big flaw in the compromise proposed by the White House is that it is tied to the original sin -- DACA. The Obama administration used that program to trick desperate young people who were dying of thirst to guzzle water that wasn't safe to drink. It's hard to imagine anyone characterizing DACA as a government giveaway when the recipients did most of the giving -- handing over fingerprints, mugshots and home addresses to law enforcement who can now deport them at will.

Don't be distracted. DACA is better off dead, and it deserves no resurrection.

The "just right" solution is obvious: full legal status and green cards for the

nearly 700,000 DACA recipients, and mere protective status for the estimated

1.8 million Dreamers who didn't sign up but still shouldn't be

deported. No one gets citizenship, unless they jump through the necessary hoops to earn it.

Most importantly, we ought to make sure this whole part of the debate stays separate and apart from any horse-trading about Trump's wall, which was always doomed to fail. After all, whether you call it a wall, a fence or a steel barrier, it's expensive, poorly defined, likely to disappoint and almost certain not to keep anyone out.

Trump must realize all this by now. Surely, the former real estate tycoon knows a troubled asset when he sees one. His proposed "big beautiful wall" is as troubled as they come. Which is why he desperately needs Democrats to take the project off his hands, by accepting a deal that makes them part owners of whatever monstrosity rises from the ground.

Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

RUBEN NAVARRETTE COLUMN

(Advance for Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, and thereafter. Web release Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Navarrette clients only)

By RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.

SAN DIEGO -- As the son of a law enforcement officer who was on the job for nearly four decades, I would submit there ought to be an 11th Commandment: Thou shalt not exploit dead cops.

It is grotesque that anyone would ever seize on the killing of a police officer for political purposes. Alas, the practice is bipartisan.

On the left, the exploitation takes the form of those who ask that we try to understand the sense of alienation that drives some people to "self-radicalize" to

the point where they could kill a police officer. We heard this insane argument from community activists and the liberal media during a rash of violence against cops about five years ago -- in cities like Dallas, New York and Baton Rouge.

On the right, when the alleged assailant is an illegal immigrant, we often see a cheap and shrill attempt to turn the grief of families and communities over a fallen guardian into outrage over illegal immigration and "open borders." Republicans typically use this cynical pitch as a way to accuse Democrats of coddling cop killers.

That's what the GOP did last January, when it put out a devastating 30-second online ad that helped cause the opposing party to buckle and end President Trump's first shutdown after just three days. Blending high-pitched buzzwords like "Democrats" and "Murder" and "Illegal Immigrants," the spot -- which was titled "Complicit" -- blamed Trump's political opponents for the damage done by a lowlife named Luis Bracamontes. The unrepentant killer of two police officers in 2014 who bragged about wanting to murder more cops became Trump's "Willie Horton" -- a Latino boogeyman intended to scare white people into going along with every crazy anti-immigration idea concocted by the White House.

And, as we know, when it comes to cooking up crazy, the grill at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is on 24/7.

Bracamontes made a return appearance -- this time in a television ad released just six days before the November midterms, as the GOP tried to scare up the votes to prevent Democrats from retaking the House of Representatives.

But Trump and Co. was just warming up.

In December, tragedy struck again -- this time, in the Central California city of Newman. The day after Christmas, Newman Police Cpl. Ronil Singh -- himself a legal immigrant from Fiji -- was gunned down during a traffic stop by an illegal immigrant. The 33-year-old police officer had spent Christmas morning with his wife and his 5-month-old son, who will never know his father beyond stories and photographs.

Trump couldn't wait to jump onto Twitter and take full advantage of the pain suffered by that family and community. And for what? To push his crusade for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border -- which may, or may not, have kept out Singh's assailant.

It was a shameless stunt. But, as we have learned over the last few years, in a variety of circumstances, no elected official in America has less shame than Donald Trump. The president has become a master of ghoulishly utilizing the death of police officers for short-term political benefit.

Personally, I'm deaf to the dog whistle. When I learn that a cop has been killed -- whether it's in the line of duty or off the job -- I think to myself: "How old was the officer, and how many years was he or she on the job? Was he or she married, and did he or she have children?"

I don't think: "Gee, I wonder if the killer was in the country illegally because then I'd (BEG ITAL)really(END ITAL) be furious!"

When a cop dies, I'm furious anyway -- and heartbroken. Memory immediately transports me back to that day in the mid-1970s when my own father, dressed in uniform with his service weapon on his hip, pulled me aside before he left to work. He told me that a man had threatened his life -- and that he may not come home, that I should take care of my younger siblings.

So, what kind of conversations did you have with your dad when you were 10 years old?

You see, for me, the concept of dead policemen is personal and painful. It's not just another issue du jour to be played with. Still, mercenary politicians use it as a chew toy. May they choke on it.

Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

RUBEN NAVARRETTE COLUMN

(Advance for Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019, and thereafter. Web release Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2019, at 8 p.m. Eastern time.)

(For Navarrette clients only)

By RUBEN NAVARRETTE JR.

SAN DIEGO -- Political consultants will say that running for president is about raising money, hiring staff, building organization, studying issues and lining up endorsements.

That's wrong.

Take it from a journalist: Running for president is about telling a story.

This is especially true at a time when Americans are standing in front of fire hydrants that spew information, and their attention spans are shorter than ever. You have to boil down everything you are, believe in and have ever done into a short and clear narrative that tells people who you are, what you stand for and why you want this crazy job.

Julian Castro has one heck of a good story to tell, and now the 44-year-old former San Antonio Mayor and U.S Secretary of Housing and Urban Development has a national soapbox from which to tell it.

Castro has announced that he is running for president in 2020. His first decision was brilliant -- choosing his twin brother, Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, as his campaign chairman. Who better to shepherd you through this meat grinder than someone who has loved you since birth, knows you better than anyone and isn't afraid to tell you what you need to hear?

In what will be a crowded field of Democratic hopefuls vying for their party's nomination, Castro's first goal has to be to make it onto the short list.

And no -- as someone who has known the San Antonio native for 15 years, interviewed him dozens of times, and written thousands of words about him -- take it from me, he is not running for vice president or applying for another Cabinet post. He'll be perfectly content, and highly employable, in the private sector if this White House thing doesn't work out.

If it does work, and Castro finds himself on a national debate stage in March or April of next year, it will be because of one thing above all else: his story.

The most important part of my friend's story isn't family. It's geography.

We got a preview of that part of the story -- for the Netflix generation, consider it a "trailer" -- during Castro's official announcement on the West Side of San Antonio, where he and his brother grew up.

This is the place that sculpted and shaped Julian Castro. Before Stanford University and Harvard Law School, and getting elected mayor of the nation's seventh largest city and being vetted as a possible running mate for Hillary Clinton, and being chosen by Barack Obama to give the keynote speech at the 2012 Democratic convention and later join the Cabinet, and writing his memoir for a major publishing house -- before all the accomplishments and accolades, it was the West Side that formed how Castro sees the world and his place in it.

If you don't understand it -- or neighborhoods like it, all across America -- you'll never understand him.

It was here -- in this hardscrabble neighborhood, built by immigrants, where the only way out is your dreams and the hard work that makes them real -- that the twins were raised by a single mother with grit. Just as their mother had been raised by her mother, a Mexican immigrant who worked as a housekeeper, cook and babysitter.

Rosie Castro is the Rose Kennedy of San Antonio, except that she raised her prodigies on a budget.

I once asked Joaquin Castro why neither he nor his brother had swagger. He said it came from their humble upbringing on the West Side where, as teenagers, with no money for a family car, they rode the bus -- in fact, on the same bus route that the two rode the morning of Julian's special announcement.

At 23, Rosie Castro ran unsuccessfully for city council in 1971 as part of a slate of candidates calling itself the Committee for Barrio Betterment put forth by the Raza Unida Party. She would go on to a career in higher education at a local community college.

Oh, and it turned out, she was pretty good at raising children.

As Julian recalled in his speech, after she lost her election, Rosie told a reporter: "They'd be back."

"Well, Mom," the candidate said in front of a cheering crowd. "I think we're back."

You had better believe it -- and to the delight of those of us who love a great story.

Ruben Navarrette's email address is ruben@rubennavarrette.com. His daily podcast, "Navarrette Nation," is available through every podcast app.

(c) 2019, The Washington Post Writers Group

About
Ruben Navarrette is a fresh and increasingly important voice in the national political debate. His twice-weekly column offers new thinking on many of the major issues of the day, especially on thorny questions involving ethnicity and national origin. His column is syndicated worldwide by The Washington Post Writers Group. Navarrette draws on both his knowledge of policy and politics and his life experiences to provide meaningful and hard-hitting commentary. He is a widely sought speaker on Latino affairs, has worked as a substitute teacher in classes from kindergarten to high school, and has hosted radio talk shows.
Books
  • A Darker Shade of Crimson: Odyssey of a Harvard Chicano (1993)
  • Contributer to Chicken Soup for the Writer's Soul (2000), of the best-selling "Chicken Soup for the Soul" series.
Awards
  • 2004 2nd place in the National Headliner Awards
  • 2006 3rd place in the National Headliners Awards presented by the Press Club of Atlantic City
  • 2002 & 2003, the Dallas Observer named him Best Columnist at a Daily Newspaper
Links