The New York Times continues to nudge Obama from the left on amnesty for illegal immigrants. The latest: Michael Shear's Saturday profile of Obama's chief amnesty pusher Cecilia Munoz (pictured), a former lobbyist for a radical pro-Hispanic group -- "Obama's Defender of Borders Still a Voice for Migrants ."
Buried in the third-to-last paragraph was Munoz's history as a lobbyist for the left-wing separatist group National Council of La Raza ("La Raza" means "the race"). Not mentioned at all was Munoz quoted in the Times itself in February 2008 accusing conservative personalities like Sean Hannity of spreading disinformation from "hate groups ," and being distinctly unsympathetic to the free speech of commentators opposed to amnesty for immigrants.
For two decades, Cecilia Muñoz was a fiery immigration rights lobbyist who denounced deportations, demanded change in Congress and once wrote of “that hollow place that outrage carves in your soul.” When she was invited to a White House briefing in 1997 on immigration, Ms. Muñoz, who was born in Detroit, was furious after staff members asked twice if she was an American citizen.
But after a call from Barack Obama in 2008, Ms. Muñoz crossed to the other side to help push the administration’s promised immigration overhaul -- only to find herself defending a border enforcement policy under which nearly 1.5 million people have been deported in four years. Critics denounced her as a traitor and demanded that she resign.
“She did become, in some ways, the face of the president’s policy,” said Angela Maria Kelley, a friend of more than 20 years and a fellow immigration activist. Other activists said Ms. Muñoz was championing deportation policies far worse than the ones she had fought against. She was “deployed to defend the indefensible,” said Pablo Alvarado, whose day laborer organization was repeatedly at odds with her.
Now, as Mr. Obama is in Latin America this week as the first president in decades with a chance to get an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws through Congress, Ms. Muñoz’s loyalty in the face of her battering appears to have paid off. After four long years, she has helped Mr. Obama prod a reluctant capital toward citizenship for more than 11 million illegal immigrants.
In the weeks ahead, Ms. Muñoz will have a crucial role in trying to keep the immigration bill from unraveling in the face of opposition from conservative radio hosts and Republican lawmakers, some of whom have seized on the Boston Marathon bombings as a reason to delay action.
Shear sympathized with Munoz's internal struggles between her leftism and the Obama administration's bow to political reality.
Her battles were taking a very long time. In 2011, Ms. Muñoz was the designated administration official to defend the deportations -- which often separated children from parents -- in a tough PBS documentary, “Lost in Detention.” On camera, she said that hundreds of thousands of deportations had been mandated by Congress, and she left unstated the reality that being tough on deportation was critical to getting Republicans on board with an immigration overhaul.
Her difficult position was not lost on her friends. “You could see the pain in her face,” Ms. Kelley said, speaking of Ms. Muñoz’s demeanor under questioning in the documentary.
She earned a degree in English and Latin American studies from the University of Michigan, eventually became the top lobbyist at the National Council of La Raza and was married with two teenage daughters by the time Mr. Obama offered her the White House job. She at first said no, but reconsidered when Mr. Obama appealed to her on the phone the next day.