Setting Latino Republicans Free: Having the “Courage” to Talk About immigration

By Alex Gonzalez

Update: The fiasco between Betina Inclan and the RCN on Romney’s views precisely show the conundrum  and disadvantages Latino Republicans are exposed to while campaigning.  Ms. Enclan, as the official outreach Director for the RNC, thought she could openly talk about immigration.  Because she spoke about immigration and said she did not know Romney’s views on immigration , Ms. Inclan was reprimanded   by both the RNC and the Romney campaign.  Ms. Inclan, who has not yet been to the southwest since hired as Hispanic outreach Director, did not know how to address the issues of immigration and thus she “misspoke”.  But, it is not that Inclan “misspoke “but rather she was caught unprepared  because Romney and the RNC do not  want Latino Republicans  talking about immigration. And this is very troubling, since we are sending Latino  Republicans to campaign without knowing how to address the issues important  to Latino voters in the Southwest where 80% of Latino reside.


Apart from the Constitutional argument on the Arizona law, SB1070, before the Supreme Court last week, it is clear that we have a political fight. The Republican Party needs the “courage to tell those supporters of the Arizona Law that this law, as recklessly as it is written, is creating the wrong idea about the Republican Party among Latino voters.  Enforcement-only excessive views on immigration do not reflect the views of Republican Party, and thus the GOP needs to make this known if Republicans want to get the Latino vote in swing states. As Linda Chavez argues in one of her Op-eds, “I don’t get what Republicans are doing with this people”, those people promoting big-government enforcement only policies. More importantly, in allowing these enforcement-only talks among Republicans, Latino Republicans are being short-changed since they are being told not talk about immigration while non-Hispanic Republicans are openly promoting SB1070. Thus, Latinos Republicans are not being put in precarious disadvantageous platform against democrat.

While conservative columnists and Republican elected officials last week openly talked about their support for SB1070, Latino Republicans elected official, Pundits, and Party outreach operative have been told not talked about immigration and only try to stick to the economic taking points.  However, this strategy  puts Latino Republicans in a great disadvantage since they do not get an opportunity to dispel any myths about illegal immigration in terms of the economy, demography changes,  and an again boomer population that needs immigrant labor. As a result, Latino Republicans are being ordered into a disadvantageous  platform where their hands, metaphorically speaking, are tied down while other non-Hispanic Republicans can freely talk about immigration enforcement only policies.

For example, Conservatives columnist and Republicans argued that there is nothing wrong with Americans demanding that immigration laws are enforced. This argument comes from a poll suggesting that 59 percent of Americans support the Arizona law.   The well known Pollster Scott Rasmussen, director of the Rasmussen polling Center, argues that the majority, 59 percent, of American favor only laws like SB1070. Mr.  Rasmussen deduces that illegal immigration is matter of national security, and criminality, as opposed to economic revolving surrounding illegal immigration and entitlements.

“If the laws are enforced, 61 percent of voters favor a welcoming policy that lets anybody come to America except national security threats, criminals and those who would live off the U.S. welfare system. All who would like to work hard and pursue the American Dream are welcome.”

Though there is no empirical evidence suggesting that illegal immigration is connected to the “welfare system, or national security, Mr. Rasmussen wants us to believe that Americans support the Arizona Law because of fear of national security and because Americans want only “hardworking  legal immigration”. Herein lays precisely the problem. We assume that if we, Latino Republicans, let others disseminate extreme immigration views just because they are well know conservative pollsters, we presume they are doing service to the GOP. But that is a misconception. They are fact tarnishing the efforts of the GOP to reach out to Hispanics.

What Mr. Rasmussen is not telling us is that the majority of American also supports a rational sound solution to our broken immigration system.  For example,  despite the onslaught of false messages from anti-immigrant talking heads, the truth is undocumented immigrants are staying longer and building lives. The second study, a poll by the National Journal and Princeton proves that : the American people want immigrants without a criminal record to remain in the country, not be part of record-breaking deportations.

“When asked what should be done with the roughly 11 million illegal immigrants in the country, just 25 percent of those polled said that they should all be deported ‘no matter how long they have been in the U.S.’ Another 28 percent of those surveyed said that all illegal immigrants should be allowed ‘to stay, provided they have broken no other laws and commit to learning English and U.S. history.’ The largest group, at 39 percent, said that the United States should ‘deport some, but allow those who have been here for many years and have broken no other laws to stay here legally.’” Even across party lines, this study shows the majority of Americans endorse allowing immigrants to stay here legally, not continue the devastating and failed strategy of detentions and mass deportations”

And this view in support of legalization for those with family ties in the US is even stronger among Latinos. For example,   When 87% of Latino agree that a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants is necessary

So, as Linda Chavez points out, “Few Republicans have the courage to take on the well-funded radicals who want not only to eliminate illegal immigration but also to severely restrict legal immigration… Why pro-life Republicans are in bed with the likes of these guys remains a mystery”.  As result, the lack of “courage” among Republicans to tell these groups to stop their anti-immigration rhetoric only creates a level of de-facto authorization for non-Hispanic Republican candidates to openly support laws like the Arizona bill and thereby making it harder for Latino Republican Candidates talk to Latino voters.  So Latino Republicans also need to have the “courage” to rebut any false argument by Conservative pollster or columnists.

“On the issues before the court, most voters tend to side with the state of Arizona rather than the federal government. Fifty-nine percent of voters nationwide, for example, agree with one of the law’s most controversial provisions, that police officers should routinely check the immigration status of those they pull over for other violations. Most voters would like to have a law like Arizona’s in their own state.”

If Mr. Rasmussen heard the SOTUS argument, he would understand that there is no “Citizens Data Base” to check who is indeed a U.S. citizen. Thus, as Justice Sotomayor asked the Arizona attorney, if I don’t have my ID, and I tell the officer my name, where will they check if I am citizens? And since there is no federal data indicating that I am citizens, how long will I be detain? Under, the 4th Amendment, citizens are supposed to be free of “illegal seizures.” Moreover, if Mr. Rasmussen will revise the transcripts of the argument was entirely on “Hispanic looking” citizens that will be detained under SB1070.  I doubt that  if all this detention were applied to all citizens, especially seniors living in gated community in Arizona,  Mr. Rasmussen will support this bill.  Mr. Rasmussen presumes that Americans only want the existing laws enforced, but this law created by 1070 is the criminalization of civil violations.

Thus, if Mr. Rasmussen really wants the current laws to be enforced, then current law states that civil violations equal to driving infractions that can be fixed with a fine. If the current law was to be enforced, Federal Laws never mandate the incarceration of legal immigrant and citizens for hours or days until they can prove that they are citizens.  If Citizens or even Valid Visa holders are held for an unreasonable time, this not only violates the 4Th amendment but the 14th Amendment as well.  Additionally, the United States would be open to a multitude of lawsuits before we realized that SB1070, as is written is a manner of bankrupting our country and defying our Constitution.        

Polls are subjective. And the truth that Mr. Rasmussen should to tell all Americans is that  just because 59% of Americans support SB1070, it does not preclude the majority of Americans supporting a practical sound economic immigration reform based on economic and family ties to the US.  Unfortunately, those like Mr. Rasmussen would like us to believe that support for SB1070 is in absolute terms—Americans only support enforcement. Buts this is only half of the argument and Latino Republicans, candidates and operatives, need to be set free to talk about the whole true.

As long the Republican Party keeps telling Latino Republicans to stick only to the economic message while we have Republican candidates and pollster promoting SB1070, Latino Republican are being held back and put in a disadvantageous spot. Latino Republican candidates need to tell Latino voters that that 90 percent of estimated 1,200,000 deported immigrants under Obama are Latinos.   Additionally, Obama has created an environment of suspicion between Mexico-and U.S., and thus, under Obama, Diplomatic relations between the two countries have been more strained now than in more than in the past 20 years; the same goes for Latin American. Therefore, there is ample hard data showing that Obama’ policies have been one of the worst for Latinos in the US and Latin-America.  Hence, Latino Republicans need to tell Latino voters that unless we fix immigration to legally bring more workers, young American Latinos will bear the big burden of entitlements and out trade relations Latin-American will continue to be tarnished.    

But only when Latino Republicans take charge— and muster the “courage”–of the immigration argument and address it in economic terms, and only until then, pundits like Mr.  Rasmussen and those Republican supporting SB1070 will continue to make it more difficult for Latino Republicans to woo Latino voters.

The GOP wants Latino Republican candidates to talk about pro-life and the rights of the “unborn,”  but the GOP does not want Latinos Republicans talking about  well-funded extreme groups like FAIR wanting to take away the citizenship of  “unborn” citizens to undocumented parents. Moreover, when The GOP wants to point out the dismal work of Obama with Israel, they bring Rabbis and Jewish-Americans politician to defend Israel. So why not allow a Latino Republican to stand up against Obama on of immigration?

Linda Chavez says it is matter of “courage.”  If the GOP is demanding that Latino Republicans refrain from talking about immigration, the GOP needs to have the courage to ask other Republicans to stop parading in support of SB1070.  Furthermore,  Latino Republicans  need to have the “courage”  to also demand that other  Republican refrain from talking about immigration and in support of SB1070.  Sending a Latino Republican candidate to the Latin community without the necessary skills, knowledge, to talk about immigrating is like sending a soldier to fight a war with guns, but without ammunition.

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