MSNBC’s Diaz-Balart Broadcasts from La Raza Convention; Fails to Mention They're Giving Him Award

On the Monday edition of his MSNBC show, Jose Diaz-Balart rolled out the red carpet for liberal activists in favor of amnesty by broadcasting from the National Council of La Raza’s (NCLR) conference in Los Angeles. This included inviting an illegal immigrant activist to promote her agenda and pushing another guest to blame House Republicans for the lack of immigration reform. Oh, and he failed to mention that the NCLR was giving him an award at the conference’s closing gala.

Towards the end of a second segment on immigration (more on the first later), he was congratulated by the NCLR’s Clarissa Martinez de Castro for something neither Diaz-Balart nor his guests mentioned. What was the "congratulations" for? Well, turns out, the congratulations was for the NCLR selecting him to receive the Ruben Salazar Award for Communication, which is given “each year to an outstanding communications professional dedicated to portraying news relevant to US Hispanics.” With this being the only mentioning of it on his show (and a vague one at that), talk about a major conflict of interest. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

The first illegal immigration segment involved a young woman named Angelica Hernandez, who attended the conference with Diaz-Balart over the weekend. He invited her to talk about “her story” as an illegal immigrant and “one that really is repeated in hundreds of thousands of cases throughout the country.” He mentioned that she was a graduate student at Stanford and was the founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition, but didn’t talk about or highlight her background any further besides mentioning that she is “a dreamer herself.”

Of the many things he failed to do, he failed to emphasize her activist role and that she spoke at the ultra-elite Aspen Ideas Festival in 2014 last month and that her organization advocates for higher education opportunities for illegal immigrants. One of her co-founders was even named to Time magazine’s “100 most influential people” in 2012. 

At one point, Diaz-Balart was absolutely fawning over her: 

Yeah, Angelica, you were brought over here as a kid and you graduated with the highest honors from high school in 2007. You're at Stanford right now and what’s important to underline here is despite your academic success, you not having papers has been a huge obstacle for you and yet you don't let that be an obstacle which doesn’t prohibit you from having your American dreams. 

While it’s certain some “dreamers” are very talented and intelligent individuals, the media has failed to give viewers a more complete perspective in that some other young illegal immigrants come with very limited skill sets or arrive with very criminal motives.

Later in the show, he invited on Martinez de Castro, who is the Director of Civic Engagement for the National Council of La Raza and the Executive Director of the Libre Initiative, Daniel Garza, to talk about immigration. In this segment, Diaz-Balart acted as though he were a third panelist in espousing his liberal views.

When Garza tried to say that he felt both Democrats and Republicans were to blame for the lack of immigration reform, that did not square with Diaz-Balart’s views at all. After criticizing both parties for being set on discussing only certain aspects of immigration, Diaz-Balart said: 

Are you answering my question, though? I think that the House has a responsibility to deal with, one way or another, an up or down vote on an issue the Senate dealt with in a bipartisan way over the year ago. 


The relevant transcripts from the segments on Jose Diaz-Balart on July 21 are transcribed below.

MSNBC 

Jose Diaz-Balart

July 21, 2014

10:07 a.m. Eastern

JOSE DIAZ-BALART: I want to bring someone who was at the La Raza Conference with me over the weekend. Angelica Hernandez is founder of the Arizona Dream Act Coalition and dreamer herself. She's pursuing an advanced engineering degree at Stanford. Angelica, thanks for being with us. You know, your story and we talked about it over the weekend here in Los Angeles. It's one that really is repeated in hundreds of thousands of cases throughout the country, but why is it that this border crisis should matter to us? 

ANGELICA HERNANDEZ: Well, you know, there's -- with what’s going on at the border right now and you know, it's certainly a humanitarian issue, but, you know, we do have a bigger issue to deal with here with over 11 million undocumented immigrants, and over 1.2 million undocumented children that would qualify for the Dream Act. So, you know, we have a population of students that are getting educated, that are going to school that are getting the college education and at the end of the day, they can't work. They're as American as anyone that was born here, and all they need is an opportunity to be able to pursue a pathway to residency and be able to contribute to the country where they've lived their whole life. 

DIAZ BALART: Yeah, Angelica, you were brought over here as a kid and you graduated with the highest honors from high school in 2007. You're at Stanford right now and what’s important to underline here is despite your academic success, you not having papers has been a huge obstacle for you and yet you don't let that be an obstacle which doesn’t prohibit you from having your American dreams. 

HERNANDEZ: That's right, Jose and I think that's the story that a lot of students are trying to emulate as well that you know, we have all these obstacles specifically being a dreamer in Arizona and with the anti-immigrant sentiment here and the obstacles that have been put in the way of students that are pursuing higher education, but, you know, at the end of the day, we are perseverant and I feel that all the obstacles that correct coming our way are making us stronger, and are allowing us to be able to continue so that we can prove people wrong and show them that, you know, we want to get educated and that we want to continue pursuing our American dream. 

(....)

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Frame the Debate; No Solution Out of DC Yet on Border Crisis]

DIAZ-BALART: I want to bring you back to Los Angeles and a friendly debate on immigration, front and center at the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. What are we to do about the crisis at the border. You know, in just a few hours, Texas governor Rick Perry is expected to announce his current solution for the crisis sending 1,000 National Guard troops to the region as we all continue to wait for a solution out of Washington. Still nothing from either the House or the Senate.

(....)

DIAZ-BALART: Joining me here in Los Angeles is the Director of Civic Engagement for the National Council of La Raza, Clarissa Martinez de Castro and Daniel Garza, the Executive Director of the Libre Initiative. To both of you, thank you so much for being with us. 

(....)

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Frame the Debate; Sen. Ted Cruz: “The Border is Not Secured”] 

DIAZ-BALART: And, you know, Daniel, the fact is that the inability of the House this year to even deal with immigration reform is a problem. You know, if there were comprehensive immigration reform, maybe some of the issues would have been dealt with in systemic way so that these kids wouldn't have to feel their only option to get to the United States is across illegally. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Frame the Debate; Gov. Perry to Announce Border Plans Today in TX]

GARZA: No, I think you're absolutely right, Jos . I mean, this is – I think the – there's complicity on both sides and blame to share equally here. I think –

DIAZ-BALART: But the House is controlled by Republicans. We agree on that. 

GARZA: It is, but the thing is, also that there has been an intractability on the Democrat's side on their fixed position of a path to citizenship while the Republicans have been saying let's talk about Visa reform. So, there has been little in reconciliation on both sides of the issue. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Frame the Debate; Perry Expected to Send Nat’l Guard to Border],

DIAZ-BALART: We agree. 

GARZA: And you haven't seen that sort of bipartisan spirit on this issue. 

DIAZ-BALART: Are you answering my question, though? I think that the House has a responsibility to deal with, one way or another, an up or down vote on an issue the Senate dealt with in a bipartisan way over the year ago. 

GARZA: I agree with that 100%.  There is an obligation by the House. Inaction is inexcusable. Inaction should not occur, should not go any further. I think this situation that we have on the border actually cries out for reform and we should move toward that. 

MARTINEZ DE CASTRO: Here is the interesting thing. I mean, and you mentioned Perry is sending troops to the border. We are losing the facts in this whole conversation. Nobody is pouring over the border. The reason we know how many children there are is because they're being apprehended. In other words –

DIAZ-BALART: And they're handing themselves in in many cases.

MARTINEZ DE CASTRO: Exactly. In other words, the billions of dollars that we spent on border enforcement, that’s worked. 

DIAZ-BALART: But Clarissa, the fact of the matter is, kids keep coming over the border and no one sees anything really happening.

GARZA:I think what had happened in the case, and this to the fault of the president is that he's been taking unilateral executive action because of his frustration and his ineptitude in trying to get something done. He sees the inaction from the Republican side, of course and I think they are to blame as well, but here you see clearly the president's policies have actually induced and incentivized this, you know,  rush to the border. 

MARTINEZ DE CASTRO: You know what, I’ve heard that quite a bit and I realized it was at the very moment that Republicans in the House were going to be forced to admit their colossal failure in leadership for moving immigration reform forward that they launched on to the issue of children to start doing again the two things they have done on immigration: Blame the president, whom we've had some serious disagreements with, and say kill DAKA. The reality here is there is a crisis in Central America. People are fleeing to every single country in the region and our answer should not be to take away protections from children. People should have a day in court to prove their case. 

GARZA: I agree with that. I think, you know, this is a test of our national character and we have to take care of the children and accommodate for their interest and I think what has been tragic about this is here we failed to get immigration reform and now the only kind of legislation tied to immigration that we're able to pass is how fast we can deport the children. Children who are victims of refugee status who are victims of the sex trade of gang violence of the drug trade and so I think it's tragic. The inaction on both sides, culpability on both sides has lead to this. 

DIAZ-BALART: You know, one of the things that I like to do is America is so wide in the people that make up the fabric of this society. Daniel, for example, you that have a strong position on this as well as Clarissa. You, as a kid, were picking vegetables and going from state to state with your parents. 

GARZA: Absolutely. I was born in central California during the grape season. My parents picked apples, pears, and peaches in the state of Washington, small town of Toppanish. In Nebraska we hoed beans. So, you know, I lived that migrant lifestyle and so I sympathize with those folks who, you know, come for the American dream and, you know, we want to make sure that we accommodate for – for those aspirations as well. 

DIAZ-BALART: Daniel and Clarissa, thank you so much for being with us today.

GARZA: Thank you.

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you for receiving me at the conference of La Raza.

MARTINEZ DE CASTRO: And congratulations.

GARZA: Yes, absolutely.

DIAZ-BALART: Thank you very much. It's an honor to be here. 

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division