Is Immigration Reform Only Important to Latinos

By Julissa Catalan

For bilingual Americans who watched President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, one thing was noticeably different when it came to the Republican rebuttal.

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst made no mention of immigration in her GOP-sanctioned rebuttal to the President’s address, yet during the Spanish version of the rebuttal, Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo told the public that Republicans wanted to work with the President to fix the immigration system.

“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,” Curbelo said.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus told MSNBC that he does not “think it’s that strange to have multiple people giving multiple responses,” even though the RNC press release announcing the Spanish rebuttal specifically called Curbelo’s speech “the Spanish-language translated address of Senator Joni Ernst’s response.” That language has since been removed.

When pressed further for a possible reason for the disparity, Preibus deflected: “I think we’ve been talking about this executive amnesty action that the President’s taken illegally for a long time and I think until that gets resolved it’s very difficult to go back and conduct any other kind of immigration reform. Look, I’m not the policy guy.”

Asked why chose to go off script, Curbelo said that he chose to focus on issues that are personally important to him—like immigration, education and Cuba—in addition to the broader economic issues discussed at length by Obama and Ernst.

Curbelo said he received a copy of Ernst’s prepared remarks days before and made his own additions as he saw fit. He also said that Republican leadership approved his remarks and added, “I did not get any pushback whatsoever.”

He added: “That’s a shame that Democrats would try to criticize us for each of us having our own priorities and ideas and making them known. I think leadership should be commended for encouraging those it selects to talk about their lives, their priorities and their vision.”

Watch Carlos Curbelo’s Spanish rebuttal below.

Watch Joni Ernst’s English rebuttal below.

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