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posted: 8/5/2014 1:01 AM

Wrong script on immigration

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Just because you're well-known doesn't mean you're well-informed.

Case in point: Eva Longoria, Mexican-American actress, social commentator and loyal Democrat who once mocked Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida for having "silly" ideas.

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What makes Longoria look silly is that she believes that other Americans care what she thinks about the crisis involving Central American child refugees crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into her native Texas.

The actress was recently given an award for her activism by the National Council of La Raza, the nation's largest Latino advocacy group.

"Eva uses her platform to advocate for issues of concern for our community," NCLR President Janet Murguia said in presenting the award at the group's annual conference. "She takes risks and shows courage in standing up and supporting Latinos across the country."

It is eerie to hear the head of the NCLR talk about taking risks and showing courage. The organization is so busy gobbling up corporate checks that it wouldn't know real "activism" if its leaders tripped over it.

A few years ago, the NCLR cozied up to corporate America by calling off a tourism boycott of Arizona intended to protest that state's racist immigration law. But it wasn't the NCLR's boycott, and so the organization had no right to call it off. The NCLR has also been AWOL in the immigration debate, sitting out protests by "dreamers" -- whether at the border or the halls of Congress. One reason may be that Cecilia Munoz, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council and the administration's Latina spinmeister, is a former vice president of the organization.

Recently, there was a glimmer of hope that NCLR might redeem itself when Murguia called President Obama the "deporter in chief" for removing more than 2 million people. But Obama suppressed that rebellion when he called a meeting of immigration activists, made sure to invite Murguia, and then, according to sources who were in the room, dressed her down in front of the group.

Longoria has enjoyed a chummier relationship with the White House. She was invited to a state dinner honoring Mexican President Felipe Calderon in May 2010, joined other Latino celebrities at the executive mansion to discuss immigration with the president in April 2011, and was named a national co-chair of the Obama-Biden re-election campaign in February 2012. As Obama was vying for a second term, many Latinos were beginning to think the president wasn't in their corner, and it was her job to convince them otherwise.

In accepting her award from the NCLR, as Longoria was reflecting on her own childhood growing up in South Texas, she veered into current events.

"And I just can't help but think and reflect on the situation that's happening now on the border, everything that's unfolding on our border -- 57,000 children who did not have the luck to be born in America," Longoria told the crowd.

The next day, a tweet from The Huffington Post read: "Eva Longoria calls on U.S. to protect child refugees." It should have been: "Eva Longoria calls on U.S. to protect child refugees from the president she helped re-elect."

It is Obama whose administration has subjected many of the child refugees to overcrowded conditions, denied them adequate food and medicine and sanitation, and then barred the media and lawmakers from the facilities. And it is Obama who, despite his recent comments to Latino groups intended to persuade them that he has reversed course, is still trying to deport children lickety-split. The administration was recently scolded by immigration judges for scheduling asylum hearings that the kids could not be expected to attend -- requiring them, for instance, to get to another state in a few days.

Humanitarians aiding these kids in Texas have figured out that Obama is not their amigo. Longoria is not there yet. She speaks in generalities.

"Americans of every background are disappointed with how the issue has been handled," she told NCLR. "And I think it's time for leaders from both parties to set aside partisan bickering and their own narrow political goals and get immigration reform done. How it's been handled has been unbelievable, unacceptable and un-American."

Unreal. Does this self-described "political news junkie" not understand that the guilty party in this drama is the same person she helped keep in office -- even though, by 2012, his flaws, failures and fibs were obvious to most of us?

Longoria needs to spend less time reading scripts and more time reading newspapers.

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

© 2014, The Washington Post Writers Group

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