Born in Phoenix more than half a century ago, UnidosUs, the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization, seems to be at a crossroads.
Is it a nonpartisan charity that unites and uplifts all Latinos or is it a partisan player in local and national elections?
It can’t be both and unite all Latinos.
Tuesday at the Arizona Science Center, UnidosU.S. felt a lot like an attempt to thread the needle of two incompatible missions.
Janet Murguia, President and CEO of UnidosUS, announced the launch of Count on Us, a campaign to push back against “false narratives” that instill suspicion and fear toward Hispanics.
As an example, Murguia pointed to ruthless political advertising by conservative politicians who portray the United States as being “invaded” or “under attack,” reports Daniel Gonzalez of The Republic.
“I think these are examples of the false narratives and misinformation that are often told about Latinos and immigrants, so this is a clear example of what we’ve seen take hold,” she said. .
I think Murguia is one of the smartest leaders in the country. At a time when much of the civil rights superstructure embraces failed separatist ideas and past separatist figures, seizing on all that is wrong with the United States, its history, its founders, its waning white majority, Murguia is resolutely integrationist.
Anyone on the left, right or center looking for a way out of the catastrophic era of the progressive right and the woke left would do well to watch the interview Murguia gave to the Fundación Consejo España (Council of Spain) in Madrid in 2019.
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He is a warm and uplifting person, who understands that optimism is a more powerful motivator than the anger and resentment that are so characteristic of American life today.
“Our mission is to empower the Latino community socially, economically and politically to open the doors to the American dream so that every Latino can have the opportunity to succeed,” she said in her Madrid Q&A.
“There is a common set of values that also binds our communities. A strong sense of family, often a strong sense of faith and a strong sense of community (which makes us)…be part of something bigger than ourselves.
“We try to … leverage that connection to advocate for policies and changes that are in the best interest of our community, but also in the best interest of our country.”
Concerns about the border are real, legitimate
I understand the urge to push back on words like “invasion” and “attack.” These words are laced with xenophobia. But the US-Mexico border is a matter of grave concern, and not just for white Republicans.
The number of migrants encountered at the border this year is on track to “break previous records”, reports USA Today.
“Overall, 1.947 million migrants were encountered at the border during this fiscal year from October 2021 to July. This number is already higher than the 1.7 million reported throughout the previous fiscal year. , then the highest number ever recorded.
Additionally, Mexico is a deeply destabilized nation, where cartel violence is spiraling out of control, so much so that the US consulate has begun warning Americans against travel to border communities such as Baja, Calif., ABC reports. -Channel 7 in Los Angeles.
“At least 11 people were killed, shops were burned down and cars and buses were hijacked,” the news station reports.
“Some cities, like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, are faced with almost deserted streets because residents are afraid to move.
“If you have nothing to do in Tijuana, please stay home,” said Roger Blacksmith of Tijuana. “I mean there’s a big concern for public safety because we don’t really know what’s going to happen next.”
Mexican democracy is in jeopardy, reports the American Council on Foreign Relations, as Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador destroys democratic norms.
The Mexican government is highly destabilized
AMLO has “trampled on the fundamental divisions of power between the three branches of government” and “weaponized the judiciary with politicized investigations and prosecutions. Its attorney general has threatened to incarcerate more than two dozen professors and scientists in the infamous Reclusorio Norte maximum security prison.
The situation is so bad that The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index recently downgraded the nation from a “flawed democracy” to a “hybrid regime”.
As the Biden administration loses control of the border, it is ripe for criticism for failing to understand the destabilizing forces opposing it. The issue is an inescapable and legitimate point of attack for Republican politicians in border states like Arizona and across the United States.
How will UnidosUS avoid appearing partisan?
It will be interesting to see how UnidosUS rolls out Count on Us, pushing back on border talking points and campaign ads from Republican candidates in Arizona.
Will they be able to do so while maintaining the distance required to maintain their 501(c)(3) status?
The IRS rules on these nonprofit organizations are quite strict on these matters, as UnidosUS no doubt understands.
These rules clearly state: “Under the Internal Revenue Code, all 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign. on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate. for elective public office.
An IRS online course for charities points out that it is “illegal to use resources to influence an election” or “raise an issue that candidates disagree on.”
During his press conference, Murguia seemed to distance himself from the election. “(Count on Us) is really about telling the story of who we are for the sake of the future of Arizona and the sake of the future of this country.
“It’s not just about politics. This campaign can really contribute to how people view the Latino community and make sure people understand that we are important contributors.”
The timing of the campaign certainly seems political
But if it “isn’t just about politics”, isn’t it fair to observe that it is at least a bit about politics?
Making it look a lot like politics is the moment. Organizers say they’re skipping Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), but the launch comes on the eve of the general election and only a month after UnidosUS announced it was partnering to Mi Familia Vota for “creating the most powerful Latin American civic engagement and democracy operation in the country.
Mi Familia Vota is an openly partisan, 501(c)(4) organization, which gives it greater leeway to be political. A visit to his site quickly reveals a leftist and partisan point of view:
The Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade is described as “politically motivated” and “wrong”.
The Democratic Governor of California’s recall victory is described as “a repudiation of anti-Latino hatred”.
The Republican governor of Texas’ order to send migrants back to the southern border is described as a “horrifying political stunt”.
Keep in mind that not all Latinos are progressive
This no doubt reflects the attitudes of many Latinos and Hispanics, but as Janet Murguia always points out, the Latino community is not a monolith.
The evidence of that is growing by the day and is very visible this week in an op-ed Thursday in The Hill, a Washington, DC newspaper.
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Hispanic woman elected to the U.S. House, wrote about “why many Hispanics increasingly identify with the Republican Party.”
“Hispanics want a free country where they can prosper as they please,” she wrote.
“These big government agendas and the advocacy of Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) and hardline Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.), who seem to be driving the Democratic agendas, scare people who are familiar with the failures of the socialism. Hispanics have seen enough of the false promises of socialism, enough of the disasters introduced by the elite “vanguard of the proletariat”.
“They have already heard everything. Give up a little freedom today in exchange for a little more government promises of more welfare and “free” largesse. So give up a little more freedom tomorrow, and the day after, until the public has no more freedom to give in exchange for largesse that never quite materializes. The promises are illusory, but the loss of freedom is all too real.
She also had this to say about border policy: “Democrats pander to Hispanic American citizens, believing they automatically favor lax immigration enforcement, so a virtual no-border will appeal to Hispanic voters.”
The fight for race cannot be fought in the long term
I want to see UnidosUS succeed. I want to see Janet Murguia and people like her become bigger on the American scene.
Something she often points out is that Latinos are getting married at huge rates.
Many American families are becoming more Latin. Mine is. I have an adopted daughter who is Latino. I have an eldest daughter who married a Latino. My nieces and nephews are marrying Latinos. Half a dozen couples we consider good friends are intermarriage or all-Latino.
California is leading us into the future, where nearly a third of new marriages are mixed in cities like San Diego, Stockton and Santa Barbara, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Eventually, we won’t be able to fight for the race, because no one will be able to sort us all out.
I will savor this day.
Until then, I hope UnidoUs will be able to do what many American institutions have failed to do, resist harsh partisan politics for the real work that can lift us out of our national malaise.
Anyone can play politics with their bare hands. Exceptional people lift our sights higher.
Phil Boas is a columnist at The Arizona Republic. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.