Award-winning rock singer Linda Ronstadt, whose career has been peppered with political controversies, told an Arizona newspaper the U.S. border with Mexico should be wide open.
“There should not be a question of legal or illegal immigration,” she said in an interview with the Arizona Republic published over the weekend. “People came and immigrated to this country from the time of the Indians. No one’s illegal. They should just be able to come.”
She argued the U.S. allows Cubans to come as refugees.
“Well, in Cuba – I’ve been there, you know – people are fed, people are housed, people are clothed. There isn’t violence in the streets. Here, people are coming from places where there’s just terrible violence. Parts of Mexico that are incredibly violent, and Honduras, which is just unspeakably violent right now,” Ronstadt said.
She said the Central American children “are just fleeing for their lives, their parents are just sending them out because it’s the only way that they have of living – into a terrible, dangerous journey and an uncertain future in the United States that is populated with people that seem to hate them – that’s how desperate they are.”
Last month, Ronstadt was awarded the National Medal of Arts and Humanities by President Obama.
In an interview with “The Diane Rehm Show” after she was granted the award, she said “politics were getting so gnarly in Arizona.”
“I just, I mean, I grew up in Arizona, I love it. I’m a part of the desert. I feel like, really, I’m from the Sonora Desert, which is – extends to both sides of the border.
“I’m really from that part of Mexico also. And I hate that there’s a fence, you know, running through it,” she told Rehm.
Ronstadt, who has won 11 Grammy Awards, two awards from the Academy of Country Music, an Emmy and was nominated for a Tony and a Golden Globe, has collaborated with artists such as Dolly Parton, the Chieftains, Johnny Cash, Frank Zappa, Bette Midler and Emmylou Harris.
She’s been on more than 120 albums and sold more than 100 million records.
Christopher Loudon of Jazz Times said in 2004 Ronstadt is “blessed with arguably the most sterling set of pipes of her generation … rarest of rarities – a chameleon who can blend into any background yet remain boldly distinctive.”
“It’s an exceptional gift; one shared by few others.”
In her interview with the Arizona paper, Ronstadt noted there was no fence through the desert when she was growing up.
“In fact, when I moved back to Tucson, there wasn’t even a fence running through it,” she said . “While I was there, it was building; we just turned around and all of a sudden it was there, this horrible thing that destroyed economies on both sides of the line.
“I know my own father’s business was very dependent on the goodwill and business and trade from people in northern Mexico. We knew their families and went to their weddings and baptisms and balls and picnics, and we had a great time with them. Because my dad had a huge hardware store, and they came up to Tucson (to) do their shopping,” she said.
“We regularly shopped in Nogales. It was a wonderful place then, and had beautiful things in the stores and had wonderful food. And when they put that fence up, they cut all that commerce off and that’s what creates understanding and awareness of each other and good trade relations.”
She said she admires Mexico.
“The place where my grandfather was born is three and a half hours southeast of Tucson, and I love that culture down there – it’s beautiful; what lovely, lovely people. The little town that I go to is called Banámichi, a series of farms and ranches that hug the convolutions of the Sonora River and they’re farming and ranching with the kind of irrigation that they’ve done for hundreds of years; it’s a very sustainable way of living and people are lovely, quite refined and very well educated.”
She described herself as a “girl from the Sonoran Desert.”
“You have the United States, and you have Mexico, and then you have this Mexican-American thing which is this third culture, which I like to call Aztlán,” she said. “It’s not the same as Mexican culture; it’s not the same as American culture. It’s a distinct hybrid with its own characteristics, and it’s influencing the culture in the United States and Mexico, and that’s kind of where I’ve found myself for the last 20 years. It’s an Aztec word; it means northern. It’s where the Aztecs came from. When they asked, ‘Where did you come from? They said ‘Aztlán,’ which is up here in the north, probably the American Southwest.”
The U.S. Border Patrol and many cities have become overwhelmed by the tens of thousands of unaccompanied children entering the U.S. from Mexico and Central America this year. Critics blame Obama for sending a message that if children reach the U.S. they will not be prosecuted but, instead, be given food, housing, medical care, education and even legal assistance.
A commentary in the Yakima, Washington, Herald explained the problem Obama has created.
“Try as he might, President Obama cannot escape responsibility for the debacle at the U.S. southwest border, caused, in part, by his administration’s mismanagement,” the editorial said. “Until Congress returns next month, he should use the tools he has to secure the border and to discourage illegal crossings. One can only hope that he will not take unilateral actions that might make matters worse.”
The paper said the current crisis “has been stoked by loose talk in Washington about a possible ‘amnesty’ of illegal immigrants, stoked by Obama’s 2012 decision to suspend deportation of youth with long-standing ties to the United States, and news that young children arriving at the border were being released pending hearings.”
“Securing the border is the responsibility of the president, not Congress. And, the president does not need new authority to get a handle on this crisis by sending an unambiguous message that illegal crossings will be stopped, most new arrivals will be turned around, and a sweeping unilateral ‘amnesty’ is off the table.”
Ronstadt’s politics often have sparked controversy. The former girlfriend of California Gov. Jerry Brown once she was escorted off the property of the Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas after publicly endorsing far-left filmmaker Michael Moore’s work. She has said she doesn’t like to sing to an audience that includes a Republican or “fundamentalist Christian.”
In 2006 in Canada, she said she was embarrassed that George Bush was an American. And she has championed homosexual and environmental activism, and other issues.
She told the Arizona Republic she moved from her hometown of Tucson to San Francisco partly because of an incident with a friend of her son.
“And then one day, my son went to have a playdate with a little boy, about 8 years old, and he said, ‘What church do you go to?’ And we said, ‘Well, we don’t go to a church,’ and he said, ‘Well, you’re gonna go to hell, then,'” Ronstadt told the paper.
“So I had to stop the car. I wasn’t mean to the little boy, but I had to explain to him that my son was a fine person and that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with him and that we didn’t even believe in hell. And certainly he wasn’t going there, even if we did, and that I didn’t like that kind of talk,” she said.