Immigration gets serious attention from Conservative Latinos
Some of the most influential Latino minds in the conservative movement, including Alfonso Aguilar, Director of American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, representatives from the LIBRE Initiative, Mario H. Lopez, president of the Hispanic Leadership Fund, Rosario Marin, former U.S. treasurer, Massey Villareal, the former chairman of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and many more are meeting on the eve of the CNBC GOP Presidential debate.
During the closed-door meeting, leading Conservative Latino activists will discuss the immigration proposals and public statements of each of the presidential candidates and identify any candidates who may not earn the support of the Latino community. Following the meeting, attendees will hold a press conference.
Anger over immigration comments made by Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and the seeming endorsement of such comments by Senator Ted Cruz compelled Conservative Latino activists to form a coalition.
Event organizers shared their plans, goals, and thoughts with Ed O’Keefe of The Washington Post:
Plans for the “unprecedented gathering” have been in the works for several weeks, according to organizers, who shared the details first with The Washington Post.
Attendees will be “the people and organizations the RNC and GOP campaigns count on to engage the Latino electorate,” said Alfonso Aguilar, head of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership and a lead organizer of the meeting. “We’ll discuss the tone of the primary, comments about the Hispanic community and some of the immigration proposals that have been made.”
Attending the meeting are some of the Conservative movement’s most influential Latino activists:
The meeting will include representatives of the LIBRE Initiative, a group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers that is building conservative grassroots support among Hispanics. Also in the room will be leaders of the Latino Coalition, a national organization of Hispanic business leaders; the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a conservative group; the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, the nation’s largest Latino evangelical organization that has hosted events with several presidential candidates; and veterans of past GOP campaigns and presidential administrations.
The coalition is particularly upset by Trump’s immigration comments and with Cruz for failing to condemn them.
Aguilar said they will focus especially on the comments and proposals of Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) among others. Trump sparked outrage for suggesting in his announcement speech that undocumented immigrants from Mexico are criminals and rapists, while Cruz credited the New York businessman for raising the issue of immigration and refused to condemn the comments.
Despite Trump’s polling, winning the general election without Latino support is mathematically impossible.
And yet — as GOP leaders have warned — it is mathematically impossible for a presidential candidate to win the White House without significant Latino support. Republican Mitt Romney failed to win the 2012 race in part because he grabbed just 27 percent of the Latino vote, a decline from the numbers earned by Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in 2008 and George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Romney’s suggestion that many undocumented immigrants would “self-deport” was seen as a fatal mistake that ruined any hope of building on McCain’s numbers.
With Latinos accounting for much of the population growth in the West, Southwest and Midwest, winning them over will be even more critical in several more swing states next year, including Colorado, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.
Several Hispanic conservatives said they plan to attend, if only to draw more attention to the concerns of Latino Republicans upset by how little party leaders and other candidates have stood up to Trump’s attacks.
Senator Cruz’s campaign was not pleased with the inference he was in Trump’s immigration camp and responded to the WaPo saying:
The Cruz campaign pushed back against suggestions that conservative Hispanic leaders are upset with the senator, pointing to frequent meetings he or his representatives have had with Hispanic groups or their leaders.
They also passed along a statement from Rev. Sam Rodriguez, president of the NHCLC, saying their recent meetings with Cruz “speak to a leader who we admire and appreciate. His commitment to country, faith and family reflect Latino conservative values indeed. He has been nothing less than gracious and accommodating as it pertains to listening to our concerns regarding the 2016 election. Senator Ted Cruz is not Donald Trump.”
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