Rep. Mick Mulvaney (SC-5) held a town hall meeting in his district recently. There is nothing inherently unusual about that, but this one made the Drudge Report because (1) it was primarily for Hispanics, (2) he conducted it in Spanish and (3) he is a Tea Party conservative addressing immigration.
The Drudge Report linked a New York Times article about the Mulvaney town with the hook “S Carolina GOP Rep mulls amnesty at townhall — held entirely in Spanish…” However, according to Mulvaney, the meeting was not about amnesty.
The Congressman responded on his Facebook page to that and some of the criticism he has received:
Pretty cool… aside from the fact I have no idea where Drudge got the idea the meeting was about amnesty. The word amnesty isn’t mentioned in the article, wasn’t offered as an idea at the meeting, and in fact is not what I support.
I told the folks last week the same thing I have told everybody else for the past few years — from Tea Party groups to the NAACP : that immigration reform means border security and an improved legal immigration system. It also means trying to find a way to deal with the eleven million people who are here illegally, but that amnesty (what some folks are now calling “pathway to citizenship”) is simply a non-starter.
The meeting was about something conservatives need to do more of: reaching out to different groups. Several folks seem to object that I did it in Spanish. That’s fine (some people object to everything). But I’ve found it’s easier to share our conservative message about the issues — ALL of the issues — when I take that message to people in the easiest and most understandable way possible.
Personally, I’ve always thought that the important thing is what you say, not the language in which you say it. (And thanks, btw, to Karen Martin of the Spartanburg Tea Party for recognizing the importance of that outreach).
Some of the reactions to Mulvaney’s post indicate the emotion of the issue:
Michael Weidensee Someone ask Mulvany why he felt the need to hold a Spanish only Town Hall in South Carolina
Michael Huggins I want to know what Rep. Mick Mulvaney’s true intentions with immigration reform are. Mr. Mulvaney needs to be reminded who sent him to Congress, and that we will vote him out if he starts with the “amnesty” crap.
Michael Weidensee So,rather than make people learn English lets just talk to them in their language because its easier for them.What ever happened to America first? Seems old Mick has taken to the pander for votes game pretty well.
Robert E Hunt Jr Amnesty (with a price) is the only way to solve the problem of the 11,000,000 who are here now and aren’t going anywhere. Charge a fee, demand a citizenship test, require community service, whatever it takes. They’re here and we need to assimilate them. They want to be Americans. Why is that so bad?
Kevin Thomas We need to reach out to more minorities with our same conservative message. I’d assume they were more open to hearing it in Spanish therefore may give you a second thought.
These comments, and I’m sure Rep. Mulvaney has gotten more that are even more visceral, not only emphasize the passion people have about immigration, but it reveals the ignorance of Tea Party advocates.
Yes, there are millions of people in the United States illegally and yes, that is wrong. But they are here and here in such numbers that managing them and the broader issue of immigration is not simple.
Mulvaney is being vilified simply for having a town hall meeting and conducting it a manner that communicates best with that particular audience.
As long as Republicans and conservatives ignore the immigration issue or, as the Far Right would have it, address it with illogical sanctimony, not only will Democrats dominate the Hispanic vote, they will remain in power for generations.