Friday, March 19, 2004

LPG gets it right, but...

Today La Prensa Gráfica reported the statements by Republican congressman Thomas Tancredo that appeared in yesterday's EDH, and both papers noted new statements by Dana Rohrabacher and Dan Burton that said an FMLN victory would have consequences for the relationship with the U.S., including the issue of Temporary Protected Status currently provided to some 250,000 Salvadorans living in the U.S.

LPG gets it right in the sense that they accurately note that Tancredo is head of Immigration Reform Caucus, and is the politician least likely to authorize migration benefits. Both articles cite the widely respected Salvadoran Ambassador to the U.S. René León as saying, essentially, you gotta take these guys seriously.

Buried at the end of a series of quotes in the LPG piece (EDH does not even do this), however, is the statement by Xavier Becerra, a democratic congressman from California, who says that whoever wins will always have good relations with the U.S. On March 15, Becerra and Raúl Grijalva (democratic representative from Arizona) issued a statement which read as follows:

“As we look ahead to this Sunday’s presidential election, we wish to reiterate that the official position of the United States government is to respect the democratic process and to work to build a constructive relationship with whichever political party the people of El Salvador choose. The U.S. Ambassador to El Salvador has met with all of the candidates and has stated publicly that it is not ‘[our] decision who the Salvadoran people elect, but we are going to try to work closely with whoever they select.’

“It is of paramount importance to address the false rumors currently circulating stating that U.S. policy toward El Salvador would change depending on which political party assumes the presidency.

“It is irresponsible and untrue for anyone to suggest that Salvadorans in the United States would be at greater risk of deportation or that they would no longer be able to send remittances to El Salvador. What concerns the United States is the integrity of the democratic process, rather than which political party the people of El Salvador choose. That is how it should be, and as democratically elected representatives of the United States, we will work vigorously to ensure that the ambassador’s words are put into practice. Thus, the people of a democratic El Salvador should rest assured that they are free to vote their conscience without fear of reprisals from the United States government.

“We have already expressed our concerns over maintaining U.S. neutrality with regard to the elections in a letter to Secretary of State Powell. It is distressing that after this letter was sent, White House Special Assistant Otto Reich made comments that seem intended to influence the elections during a press conference at the headquarters of one of the Salvadoran political parties. We again call on Secretary Powell to affirm the official United States position with regard to the elections as stated by the ambassador and disavow the inflammatory statements made by Mr. Reich.”

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