Christine Neumann-Ortiz, the head of the Hispanic-advocacy group Voces de la Frontera, is attacking the paper for refusing to publish a commentary she wrote as a response to Rep. Paul Ryan's commentary published on Thursday's Opinion page.
Neumann-Ortiz is claiming Ryan's commentary contained inaccuracies that Voces de la Frontera hoped to correct.
At issue is Ryan's alleged relationship with the Federation of American Immigration Reform, an organization labeled a "hate group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Voces de la Frontera is claiming Ryan granted the organization an interview and appears on their website.
The JT previewed and covered a protest outside of Ryan's office on Tuesday. We had photos of the event, too.
Ryan responded to the protest, and the JT's coverage, in a commentary in Thursday's paper. He said the alleged interview had nothing to do with immigration reform - only health care and football - and wasn't even with someone from FAIR. Here's an exerpt:
We were first made aware of this confusion last week after being contacted by a representative from Voces de la Frontera. We quickly clarified the situation with Voces de la Frontera, and my name was subsequently removed from FAIR's Web site, where it had been incorrectly listed. I was surprised that Voces de la Frontera decided to go forward to protest something that I did not do, but more troubled by the coverage of the event.After reading the commentary, Neumann-Ortiz said Voces de la Frontera drafted their own commentary and asked the JT to run it. The newspaper refused.
I understand that there are new pressures to break stories and turn things around at a moment's notice. But I'd ask that in the future, The Journal Times makes certain every effort is made to ensure accuracy prior to publication - and once the facts are made clear, that they are expressed in an even-handed manner.
Voces de la Frontera is now considering another protest, this time in front of the JT's offices, Neumann-Ortiz said. She said the newspaper's refusal to run their commentary amounted to censorship, and that the newspaper should allow Voces de la Frontera's commentary as a matter of fairness.
After the JT refused to publish the commentary, Neumann-Ortiz sent it to RacinePost. The commentary is published below.
For what it's worth, it appears a couple of issues fanned this fire's flame. First, if we take Ryan at his word, then it appears FAIR overstated his involvement in a recent "Hold Their Feet to the Fire" event. Ryan said he only talked about health care legislation, not immigration reform, though his name was proudly listed on FAIR's website as an example of the group's influence on immigration issues.
Second, Voces de la Frontera used the reference to point out Ryan's record on immigration, which they oppose.
Third, the initial JT story didn't include Ryan's explanation of his appearance at the FAIR event. Ryan's office was closed Monday because of Columbus Day.
Fourth, the JT gave Ryan free space to further explain his side of the story even though reporter Paul Sloth explained the issue well in a story covering the protest. This, in turn, created reasonable expectation in Voces de la Frontera that they would get unfettered access to the Opinion page to explain their concerns about Ryan's stance on immigration reform.
The JT, which has an exclusive deal to publish Ryan's commentaries, decided to give Ryan the last word on the issue. Voces de la Frontera, which is good at organizing protests, appears determined to not let that happen.
Here's the commentary the JT declined to publish:
Voces de la Frontera responds to Congressman Ryan’s editorial
Voces de la Frontera is pleased that Congressman Paul Ryan has disassociated himself from the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a Washington DC organization widely recognized as a hate group.
Mr. Ryan’s statement on the matter, however, is inaccurate when it alleges that Voces de la Frontera was advised of this by his office prior to the rally. That is simply not true.
It is also important to recognize that the Journal Times cannot be held accountable for the fact that Congressman Ryan’s name was listed on the event website of the organizers as a participant, whose “…presence at Hold Their Feet to the Fire is also a recognition of the important role that FAIR plays in the immigration policy debate.” At this time his name still has not been removed. This raises serious questions about Congressman Ryan’s position on immigration reform and his relationship to this anti-American hate group.
Despite this confusion, it would be easier to believe Congressman Ryan’s denial if his position on immigration reform had not shifted over time. He has gone from someone who was willing to engage in an honest dialogue with the immigrant community and who supported comprehensive immigration reform to supporting repressive, anti-democratic legislation like HR 4437. If passed, 4437 would have turned labor unionists, teachers, priests and doctors into felons for not reporting undocumented immigrants to federal authorities.
Many of the students that participated in Saturday’s protest came to ask why Congressman Ryan had turned his back on them by not cosponsoring the DREAM ACT, legislation allowing earned legalization for students aspiring to purse higher education. Besides his co-sponsorship of Ag Jobs this year, which helps agricultural workers achieve legal status, he has to date refused to provide the leadership necessary to move a broader bill forward, that is essential in making Ag Jobs a reality.
Congressman Ryan’s position on immigration reform has shifted from one based on American principals of justice and equality to one that caters to the blindest prejudices.
As a grassroots community organization dedicated to protecting the rights and opportunities of all workers and families in Wisconsin, regardless of race or background, Voce de la Frontera continues to ask Congressman Ryan to sign a pledge affirming his principled stance to not affiliate with hate groups, whether it be FAIR or one of their other front groups.
Moreover, we ask Congressman Ryan to engage in a constructive dialogue aimed at passing the DREAM ACT this year. Our goal remains: We want Congressman Ryan to work with the immigrant community to secure immigration reform legislation that protects the rights of workers, keeps families united, and provides an earned path to citizenship.
In closing, we respectfully ask Congressman Ryan to sign the following pledge:As a representative of the first district of Wisconsin, I pledge to take a stand against hate. Specifically, I will not associate with nor participate in events organized by groups that have been designated as hate or white supremacy groups, which have known alliances with such groups, which accept funding from such groups or that publish materials that are hateful or racist in nature.
Furthermore, I recognize that using the rhetoric of hate in political debate stands in the way of progress on important issues like immigration reform. I will not participate in the scapegoating of immigrants. Instead I commit to working toward practical and humane long term solutions to fix our broken immigration system; solutions which will give undocumented people an earned path to citizenship, protect US and immigrant workers, keep families together and enhance our nation’s safety and security. I commit to work toward building a world that is inclusive of all people and to oppose those who would exclude others just because of their race, religion or sexual orientation.
The struggle for equality and citizenship in this country has a long and proud history beginning with the signing of the Declaration of Independence. We are writing our chapter, our future, like every other generation that has come before us seeking a better life in America; Congressman Ryan which side are you on?