Fox News Latino


"Birtherism" is dead. That’s was the message from Donald Trump’s campaign last week. On Wednesday, Vice Presidential candidate Mike Pence said that he accepts that President Obama was born in Hawaii. On Thursday, Rudy Giuliani told MSNBC that he and Trump agree that Obama was born in the U.S. On Friday, Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN that her candidate believes the president was born here. So the conspiracy theory that Obama was foreign-born is over, right?

Wrong. The "birther" movement will never be over until Donald Trump renounces it. Trump spent years promoting this false and dangerous idea, and only he can put the controversy to rest. His recent policy of “not talking about it” is no substitute for an apology to all Americans.  

Despite his campaign’s attempt to move away from "birtherism," Trump’s history with it is well documented. In 2011, he launched his pursuit of the president’s “real” birth certificate, raising the issue on the Today Show and The View. That same year, Trump penned an op-ed in USA Today, pressing the president to release his long-form birth certificate (which the president later did). After claiming to have sent investigators to Hawaii to look into whether Obama was foreign-born, Trump announced, “They can’t believe what they are finding.” In 2012, he tweeted that “an extremely credible source” had told him that Obama was a “fraud.” Just last year, Trump refused to say whether he thought Obama was a legitimate president.  

Absent repudiation from the candidate himself, Trump’s "birtherism" cannot be overlooked or forgiven. Trump’s advisors may be having a change of heart on "birtherism" because, now that the polls are tightening, the campaign has realized the importance of the African-American vote. But African-Americans of all political affiliations are offended by Trump’s suggestion that the country’s first Black president is not legitimate. No wonder that Trump polls in the single digits among African-Americans (in some polls, he polls at zero with Blacks). If the campaign thinks a visit by Trump to a Black church might somehow turn things around, they are mistaken. The damage has been done.  

Latinos can look at Trump’s treatment of President Obama and see, by extension, how the candidate views us. To Trump, Obama is the other, foreign, and therefore undeserving of respect. That’s pretty much the way Trump sees our community, too. He started his campaign insulting Mexicans and immigrants. He booted Jorge Ramos out of a press conference. He maligned a distinguished American judge solely on the basis of his Mexican heritage. And this is someone who wants to lead the nation?      

Even worse, Trump’s embrace of "birtherism" is undermining our democracy. Among Trump supporters, 59 percent believe that President Obama was not born in the U.S. NBC News reports that 72 percent of registered Republican voters still have doubts about the president’s citizenship. What is troubling is that Trump has taken an idea with no basis in fact and successfully sold it to part of the electorate. This is dangerous, because the more that the public loses faith in the legitimacy of our government, the weaker we are as a country.  

Lately Trump says that he doesn’t want to discuss "birtherism" anymore. "I don’t talk about it because if I talk about that, your whole thing will be about that,” he told reporters on his plane last week. That’s not good enough; it’s no apology and he still will not acknowledge that our president was born in this country. Equally shameful is that some of Trump’s supporters have floated the idea that Hillary Clinton was responsible for elevating "birtherism" in the public arena, a claim that has been debunked by Politifact,, and the Washington Post.

Sure, both President Obama and Hillary Clinton have made indiscreet remarks — and they have apologized for them. Just this weekend, Clinton expressed “regret” and said she was “wrong” for calling half of Trump supporters “deplorables.” Trump should be held to the same standard as any other candidate or president: when you say something wrong, apologize. Besides, it is poor strategy for Trump not to disavow his association with "birtherism."  If he apologizes soon, he can put it behind him. If he does not, the topic will certainly come in during the debates, where he cannot control the narrative. Then again, as the New York Times pointed out, “In the 'birther' movement, Mr. Trump recognized an opportunity to connect with the electorate over an issue many considered taboo: the discomfort, in some quarters of American society, with the election of the nation’s first black president.” 

How ironic that Trump has probed deeply into Obama’s background while refusing to disclose his own detailed medical history, his tax returns, or information about his wife’s immigration history.  

"Birtherism" is toxic, discredited, and indefensible. That Trump has not renounced it is a national disgrace.

Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and columnist in New York City.

The grief is “beyond description.” That’s how President Obama characterized the feelings of the family members of the victims of Orlando’s massacre. On Thursday, the president was in Florida, where he laid 49 roses – one for each of the victims of the attack on the Pulse nightclub – at a makeshift memorial. After meeting with the families of the victims, Obama said, "These families could be our families. In fact, they are our families — they're part of the American family... our hearts are broken too."

As the nation still reels from the mass shooting, it is time for Latinos to have a voice in the debate over gun reform. Even before Orlando, Hispanics were supportive of greater limits on firearms — and now we have 49 more reasons to demand changes in our lax gun laws.

For Latinos, gun control is a matter of common sense, because our communities are sadly well-acquainted with gun violence. Between 1999 and 2013, the Violence Policy Center reports, over 47,000 Latinos were killed by guns, including 31,000 gun homicide victims and 13,000 gun suicides. Nearly 3,000 Hispanics were killed by guns in 2013 alone.

No wonder that clear majorities of Hispanic voters favor restrictions on gun ownership. According to Latino Decisions, 84 percent of Latino voters support background checks for people before they can buy guns at stores or gun shows. Sixty-nine percent of Latino voters support a national database of gun owners, and 62 percent want limits on high-capacity magazines. The Pew Center found that Latino registered voters say that gun control is more important than the rights of gun owners. 

Like other Americans, Latinos have recoiled from the horror of mass shootings in Aurora, Newtown, and San Bernardino. We have seen the toll that these attacks have taken on our communities, and experienced the collective loss of security. Yet our country hasn’t taken meaningful action on gun control. Why not? Because conservative lawmakers refuse to acknowledge the root of our mass shooting problem – the easy availability of guns in the U.S.

Florida Governor Rick Scott blamed the carnage at Pulse on ISIS. "We all can agree we don't want somebody that is going to do something like that to be walking around with any weapons, but the Second Amendment didn't kill anybody," Scott told CNN. "This is ISIS. This is evil. This is radical Islam… We're not focused enough on ISIS."  But the FBI says that there is no direct link between the shooter and any terrorist network. If Governor Scott doesn’t want somebody like the shooter to be “walking around with any weapons,” he should support measures to make it impossible for people to obtain semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines.

These weapons are not used for hunting or self-defense. They are designed for war, and do not belong on our streets or in our communities. As an editorial in the Orlando Sun Sentinel noted, “Federal measures targeting guns and ammo designed to kill enemy soldiers on the battlefield wouldn't seriously compromise any civilian's right to self defense.”

Opponents of gun control also frequently point out that background checks or limits on illegal gun purchases would not have stopped a particular mass shooting; the Orlando gunman purchased his gun legally and passed at least two background checks. Yet background checks, limits on gun ownership, and other measures can make it less likely that such incidents occur. That alone makes such measures worth fighting for, and we need to hold our lawmakers accountable for doing so.  

True, the Second Amendment of the Constitution reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."  The key term here is “well-regulated.”  The right to bear arms must be regulated, just as our other constitutional rights are. In fact, the Supreme Court noted in Heller vs. D.C. (2008) that, “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited.”    

Consider that a person cannot yell “Fire!” in a movie theater (a limit on freedom of speech), or disobey the police at a public rally (a limit on the right of assembly). So regulations on gun ownership are as reasonable as they are necessary. Even National Rifle Association members agree that we can respect the Second Amendment and make it harder for disturbed individuals or potential domestic terrorists to obtain guns. Given that 90 percent of the victims in Orlando were Latino, that seems the least we can do to honor their memory.

Over the past week the Latino community has come together in shock and grief over the Orlando massacre. Now we must move forward with action — and demand gun reform from our lawmakers.


“It’s time for Latinos to have a voice in the debate over gun reform”

June 20, 2016

Commentary by Raul A. Reyes

On Saturday, Donald Trump brought the Republican veepstakes to an end. “I am here to introduce the man who will be my partner in this campaign,” he declared at an event in New York City. With that, Indiana Governor Mike Pence officially became Trump’s pick for Vice President. Trump praised Pence as “a man of honor, character, and honesty.”

But as might be expected of someone who agreed to be Trump’s running mate, Pence is no friend to the Latino community. He holds extreme views on civil rights. He has favored harsh, impractical immigration policies. On healthcare, abortion, and gun control, he is out of sync with Hispanic voters. Like Trump, he would be a nightmare for Latinos.

Until now, Pence was probably best known as the governor who signed a 2015 law that would have allowed business owners to use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT Americans. This effort proved to be a public relations and economic disaster for Indiana, provoking a huge backlash from corporations and the business community.

Perhaps because we know what it is like to face discrimination, most Latinos are opposed to such legislation. Nearly three-quarters of Latinos support laws that protect LGBT people from discrimination, according to a Public Religion Research Institute poll, while 66 percent of Hispanics oppose allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT people based on religious beliefs.  

On immigration, Pence is a hardliner. He signed his state onto the lawsuit opposing President Obama’s executive action on immigration, which could have helped four million undocumented people live and work without fear of deportation. He defended SB 1070, Arizona’s controversial “papers, please” law, which was later mostly struck down by the Supreme Court. In 2004, when he was a congressman, he actually wanted to arrest and deport undocumented people who were in the hospital.

Pence’s most notable contribution to the immigration policy debate demonstrated how little he understands the issue. In 2006, he favored what he called “no amnesty immigration reform.” It was a plan that would have required all the undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to return to their home countries, and then apply for a guest worker program so that they could re-enter legally. Consider the economic and social disruption that would have been caused if 12 million people, a group about equal to the population of Ohio, up and left the country. What about their citizen children? Who would have paid for these folks to return to Mexico, China, or Central America? Not surprisingly, this impractical idea went nowhere. 

Pence holds a host of other positions at odds with the Hispanic community. Unlike most Latinos, Pence is against raising the minimum wage. He wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which has helped millions of Hispanics access health care. While an overwhelming majority of Latinos favor gun control, Pence is staunchly against it. And while most Latino voters believe a woman should be able to make her own decision on abortion, Pence is strongly against women’s reproductive rights.


Pence describes himself as “A Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.” However, as governor he tried to block Syrian refugees from coming to Indiana, and he complained to the Obama administration about 245 Central American refugee children who were placed with caring Indiana families. That does not seem very Christian.  

True, in 2010 Pence received an award from the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute. Yet no one could figure out why. The D.C. newspaper Roll Call referred to Pence as a “Mystery Winner,” and Pence himself couldn’t say why he deserved the honor. Much more telling of Pence is his reaction to Trump’s bigoted criticism of Judge Gonzalo Curiel earlier this year. While Pence said that Trump’s words about Curiel were “inappropriate,” he never condemned them or stated that Trump should apologize. That Pence should show disregard for a fellow citizen and fellow Hoosier is both revealing and troubling. It is also telling that Pence has an approval rate among Hoosiers of around 40 percent – and these are the voters who know him best. 

At Saturday’s campaign announcement, Pence said that he considered the “ancient question” of “Who am I, oh Lord?” Now we know who he is. He is a narrow-minded politician who is willing to attach himself to the most anti-Latino, anti-immigrant presidential candidate in modern American history.

“Pence has demonstrated how little he understands the immigration issue”

July 21, 2016

Commentary by Raul A. Reyes

“Trump’s ‘Birtherism’ is dangerous and disgraceful”

September 13, 2016

Commentary by Raul A. Reyes