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Cesar Ybarra on the Border, Columbus Day, and What Issues Matter Most to Hispanics

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President Biden’s administration has been going from crisis to crisis over the last couple of months, with the White House dealing with the Afghan withdrawal, repeated surges at the southwestern border, and a flailing domestic agenda. As a result, the President has seen his poll numbers decline significantly, including among Latinos. A Quinnipiac poll showing that a majority of Hispanics disapprove of the way the President has done his job until now.

We talked to Cesar Ybarra the Senior Director of Legislative Affairs of Freedom Works, a conservative group dedicated to coordinate and mobilize activists nationwide, so he could give us some insight into the way the Biden administration has been doing so far.

Cesar, who was born in Mexico and became a naturalized American citizen, is also responsible for Freedom Works’ efforts to reach out to the Hispanic community.

Border Patrol has recorded a record amount of encounters in the Southwest border (Image: EFE).

According to data provided by the US border patrol, there have been 1,245,000 southwest border encounters since President Biden assumed office in January. This is already higher than the total number of encounters experienced during the entirety of the 2019 border crisis when Trump was president. Why do you think this is happening?

“Well, it’s simple these are promises made promises kept by the Biden administration. When President Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris were campaigning in 2020 (…) they said they were going to roll back all of President Trump’s quote-unquote ‘racist border security, immigration policies’.  We know for a fact that policies like Remain in Mexico were very popular and help stimmy the flow of aliens coming to the United States.

That’s why you see the numbers, in the fiscal year 2021 what do you see? 1.5 million encounters. What about 2020? 458,000. 2019? 977,000. 2018? 521,000. It is simple, policies and rhetoric matters and the open borders rhetoric by the Biden administration has led to the dramatic increase in encounters on the southern border.”

The administration has proposed extending residency and a path to citizenship to undocumented migrants (DACA recipients, seasonal workers, and TPS holders), although the status of that legislation is currently unknown due to the Senate’s parliamentarian recent ruling against it. What are your thoughts on this proposal?

“So the parliamentarian at best gives guidance. The Senate can always overrule the guidance of the parliamentarian, ultimately they are the elected officials and in the reconciliation process, they can overrule the Parliamentarian if they wish to do that.

 I think that as conservatives and as Republicans before we have any discussion into what our legal immigration system should look like (…) we should be demanding: border security, funding for border security operations, enforcement operations in the interior, and accountability. We cannot be having a discussion about TPS holders and dreamers without addressing the policies that are allowing folks to come into the country illegally.”

What do you think should be the appropriate path on immigration? Should we have open borders as some progressives seem to suggest, close up the country? Is there a middle way?

“I think we should be promoting a merit-based immigration system, look ultimately we’re a country of immigrants and we should be trying to make the process less cumbersome for folks trying to come to the country legally. I can’t say I have the perfect answer as to what that should look like, but I think most of the Republican party would agree that a merit-based immigration system is what should be the leading policy.

But as far as TPS holders and these folks whose immigration status is in question, I think you’re going to have a hard time getting Republicans to entertain these discussions unless you have a serious discussion about border security.”

Polls have shown that Biden is in trouble with Latinos nationwide. Why do you think this is happening? What are the issues that Latinos voters care the most?

“You know is funny you mention that, I was in San Diego this weekend, it is a big big Hispanic border community, it’s a border town. They were asking ‘Why are gas prices so high?’ I mean you go to pump gas over there and you end paying up in the high fours, nearly five dollars for a gallon, is insane. They are concerned with the high prices of food, gasoline, they are concerned with the ever-growing expansion of the federal government.

 I mean now Biden is talking about this reconciliation bill, which is going to lead to more inflation, higher taxes on individuals, and when you tax businesses, their goods will also go up in price. I think that Hispanics are concerned with their pocketbooks, because the policies of the Biden administration are leading to higher prices which affect Hispanic’s pocketbooks, so I think that is a big dimension.”

Congressional Democrats have been fighting for months over the massive $3 trillion reconciliation bill (EFE)

Today, October 12th is the anniversary of Columbus’ arrival to the Americas in 1492. The date has become a new front in the culture wars, how do you think this date should be addressed by conservative Latinos, as this date is a very important one in Latin American culture?

“I grew up in Mexico and never once was Christopher Columbus portrayed as some sort of genocidal maniac as Nydia Velasquez, a congresswoman from New York stated. As Latinos, he’s a figure that is always going to be part of the Hispanic culture, even for many Italian-Americans as well, but this is the culture wars, and this is a good example of how they (the left) move one goalpost to another.

Here’s what I’ll say about Christopher Columbus, I think we should celebrate the day, the historic achievement he made four-five hundred years ago and we should be pushing back the narrative that this guy was kind of a demon. Nobody is perfect, we are not celebrating Saint Christopher Columbus, we’re celebrating the journey he made from Europe to the Americas. I think Conservative Latinos should be at the forefront against the narrative that history should be rewritten because today’s norms were not the same as the norms of the past.”

Daniel is a Political Science and Economics student from the University of South Florida. He worked as a congressional intern to Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) from January to May 2020. He also is the head of international analysis at Politiks // Daniel es un estudiante de Cs Políticas y Economía en la Universidad del Sur de la Florida. Trabajo como pasante legislativo para el Representate Gus Bilirakis (FL-12) desde enero hasta mayo del 2020. Daniel también es el jefe de análisis internacional de Politiks.

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