NCLR to Republican Senators: 'Watch Out'

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on December 20, 2010

After the Senate vote on the Dream Act on Saturday, a spokeswoman for the National Council of La Raza issued a warning to the Republicans who voted against the measure.

"The most immediate repercussions are that – particularly those members in states where the Latino population has political influence – they'd better watch out," said Clarissa Martinez, NCLR's director of immigration and national campaigns. "I am talking about persons like Hutchison and Cornyn of Texas, LeMieux in Florida, Kirk in Illinois."

Speaking in Spanish to Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, Martinez called the defeat of the Dream Act a vote "that will live in the memory of the Latino community for generations." She described the vote with the adjective "infame," which can be translated as "infamous" or "odious" or "vile."

Martinez's former NCLR colleague, Cecilia Munoz, who now works in the White House, said that immediately after the vote, President Obama came to her office with a message of determination. According to her account, Obama said, "When you're seeking justice, there are defeats along the way, but the road is long and we have to continue."

Munoz, director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, said immigration reform will continue to be a priority for the Obama administration. Looking ahead to next year, when Republicans take control of the House of Representatives, she said, "I think we're going to have an very big contrast, at least with the Republicans in the lower house who want more than anything to enforce the law and try to deport all of the ten million people who are here without papers. That will be a contrast with what the president wants to do, which is to reform the law so that it works."