Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Is Dobbs trying to make nice?

Former CNN anchor Lou Dobbs had long been considered one of the most vocal anti-illegal immigration advocates on television and radio.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the former CNN anchor, pondering a run for the Senate or maybe even for President, is trying to wipe away his image as an enemy of Latino immigrants by positioning himself as a champion of the fast-growing ethnic bloc.

In an interview Friday, Dobbs told Spanish-language network Telemundo he now supports a plan to legalize millions of undocumented workers, despite the fact that he long called these programs an unfair "amnesty."

"Whatever you have thought of me in the past, I can tell you right now that I am one of your greatest friends and I mean for us to work together," he said in a live interview with Telemundo's Maria Celeste. "I hope that will begin with Maria and me and Telemundo and other media organizations and others in this national debate that we should turn into a solution rather than a continuing debate and factional contest."

Dobbs mentioned a possible legalization plan for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., saying "we need the ability to legalize illegal immigrants under certain conditions."

Advocates on the left and right side of the immigration debate seemed perplexed by the about-face of his stance on the issue.

Frank Sharry, who heads America's Voice, a group that advocates for legalizing undocumented immigrants, told the Journal that Dobbs's conversion isn't credible, given his history of opposing efforts to liberalize immigration policies.

Jim Gilchrist, founder of the Minuteman Project, which seeks strict border enforcement and opposes legalization, said he admired Mr. Dobbs and will "watch him for several months before drawing a conclusion."

Click here to connect to the Telemundo website where you can see video of the interview in English.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Dobbs: Obama's 'Not the devil, but...'

Former CNN newsman Lou Dobbs said Monday that CNN pushed him out the door because its top executives didn’t want to offend President Obama. Dobbs spoke to Fox’s Bill O’Reilly, his first interview since suddenly leaving the network.

In his last few years at CNN, Dobbs had became one of the staunchest and most powerful critics of illegal immigration. He told O'Reilly that CNN executives didn’t seem to mind when he lobbed such criticism while George W. Bush was president.

The New York Post reported that CNN gave Dobbs an $8 million severance package. O’Reilly also asked Dobbs if he’d consider running for a New Jersey seat in the U.S. Senate. He didn't rule it out.

"A lot of things are on my mind, I'm not going to be coy about that," Dobbs said. "My wife and I are thinking about a lot of opportunities. I'm very blessed that I have a lot of opportunities. I guarantee you 100 percent I'm going to remain in the public arena."

The two also talked about the controversy over Obama’s birth certificate, reported death threats made to Dobbs, and his family’s concerns about a gunshot fired near his N.J. home.

Then O’Reilly threw out his most pointed question: "Final question, Barack Obama, is he the devil?"

Dobbs didn’t flinch.

"He's not the devil, but he is certainly a man who is right now not making it easy to understand why he's making the public-policy choices that he is."

Next up: Dobbs continues his media tour. Tomorrow, he's scheduled to appear on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. That should be interesting.

Here is a video clip from the interview from O'Reilly Factor. The actual interview begins at 2:20 minutes.

Photo Credit: Willens/AP

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lou Dobbs headed to FOX...tonight

Lou Dobbs, the controversial former CNN host, is heading to Fox – at least for one night. He’s going to be a guest of Bill O’Reilly tonight at 8 p.m.

The O'Reilly Factor guest appearance is fueling speculation that the outspoken anchor and one of the most powerful critics of illegal immigration will soon be working full time for Fox News or Fox Business.

O'Reilly is bound to ask Dobbs about his future. I wouldn't be surprised if Dobbs breaks news during the show and announces he's joining the network.

Fox News said last week that they had not had any discussions with Dobbs. But The New York Times reported in October that the Fox Business Network was eying Dobbs for a potential position.

Apparently CNN president Jonathan Klein offered a Dobbs a choice, according to the Times: Either vent his opinions on radio and anchor an objective newscast on television OR he could leave CNN. He eventually decided to go.

It’s tough to believe that the widely popular Dobbs will not land on his feet at another network. In his last broadcast, he said only that he was considering “a number of options and directions.”

Dobbs’s show drew an average of 631,000 viewers in October, putting him in third place behind Fox News and MSNBC.

(AP Photo/CNN, Mark Hill, File) (AP Photo/Jim Copper)

Friday, November 6, 2009

World Series MVP is an immigrant

Hideki Matsui of Kanazawa, Japan was awarded the MVP trophy Wednesday following the Yankees’ 7-3 Game 6 World Series victory over the Phillies. He was one of six immigrants on the field, not to mention other players who were the children of immigrants.

Watching the baseball game on TV, I couldn't help but notice many of the last names of the batters coming to the plate - Ruiz and Cano - and the pitchers on the mound - Martinez and Rivera. It was cool seeing Dominicans and Panamanians in the big game.

It’s been a great week for immigrants in sports. Meb Keflezighi, the Eritrean born runner, pointed at the U.S.A. emblazoned on his shirt as he crossed the finish line to win the New York City Marathon.

To be clear, this is not a post about illegal immigration. These athletes are all in the country legally.
But in today’s political climate, and on this blog, the debate can lump all immigrants together.

Legal immigrants here sometimes tell me they feel they have to defend their heritages because so many believe Latino and illegal are synonymous. So it’s nice sometimes to be reminded there are all sorts of immigrants in this country: athletes, musicians, judges, and politicians.

And, in the midst of the angry rhetoric, their contributions can be forgotten.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Think it's tough in Charlotte?

In Dallas, police write $204 traffic tickets to drivers who don't speak English.

Thirty- eight motorists, all Hispanic, have been cited for not speaking English since 2007, according to the Dallas Morning News. It’s not a crime, but at least 20 Dallas police officers must have thought it was since they wrote tickets. Most cases were dismissed, but at least one person paid the fine.

The issue came to light last week when a woman told the news media she was cited for being a "non-English-speaking driver," among other offenses, during an Oct. 2 traffic stop, according to the paper. Police officials initially said the trainee officer who ticketed Ernestina Mondragon, 48, a native Spanish speaker and U.S. resident, had made an isolated rookie mistake.


On Friday, Police Chief David Kunkle announced that officials had discovered dozens of other cases in which officers cited motorists for not speaking English. Kunkle apologized, promised an investigation and said that pending charges would be dropped and that those who paid fines for the charge would be reimbursed.

Not surprisingly, Hispanic leaders are calling for a deeper investigation of possible racial profiling. Police say they plan to look back several more years and include the supervisors who signed off on the tickets in the investigation for possible dereliction of duty.

No doubt, this issue is going to raise even more questions about the how local law enforcement should deal with immigrants. A New York Times editorial yesterday noted that on one side of the argument are the Obama administration and the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, who believe in outsourcing immigration enforcement to local police departments. On the other side are the ranks of police chiefs around the country who argue there is no good reason for turning cops into immigration agents. The Times agreed, but for entirely different reasons.

Such efforts up to now "have been marred by poor training, racial profiling and other abuses -- and widespread fear in the communities that the police are sworn to protect,” the editorial board wrote. “If there is any remaining doubt, just take a look at what happened in Dallas.”

AP Photo: Ernestina Mondragon.