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Latino Republicans ‘Point to History,’ Look to the Future

The Latino Town Hall event at the GOP Convention Saturday sparked discussion of immigration reform, education, and the role of Latinos in the Republican Party.

Early into today's Latino Town Hall event, Tom Del Baccaro, the chairman of the California Republican Party, stood in the center of a room full of Latino Republicans and asked them to raise their hands if they supported border patrol. 

Nearly every hand in the room went up.

“The majority of Latino voters support border patrol,” said Del Baccaro. “There is a humanitarian issue on our borders. They use human beings as drug mules. If this was happening in a border in Africa, we would send the UN in and provide relief.”

The increasingly controversial issue of immigration reform sparked a passionate town hall-style discussion inside a packed Burlingame Hyatt room at the California GOP Convention; a discussion that amounted to Latino Republican leaders attempting to remove the party’s label of anti-Latino.

“The media has a ot to do with it,” said Mario Rodriguez, the vice-chair of the California Republican Party. “We have allowed the Democrats to define what a Latino voter is.”

Moderated by Santiago Lucero, host of the Voz y Voto program on Univision Sacramento, five chosen Latino Republican leaders answered questions about immigration, education, jobs, and the growing number of Latinos holding political office, and pushed for Latino Republicans to re-brand the image of Latino voters.

“Do not run on a label,” Del Baccaro said.  “You have to have a practical policy that’s going to have a solution to people’s lives. Ronald Reagan didn’t go around saying ‘I’m a conservative, vote for me!’ He had real solutions to real problems.”

Luis Alvarado, chapter chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said there is a media portrayal of Republicans being anti-Latino and wealthy that is contrary to the reality of how the party thinks; a portrayal that has served as a detriment as Republicans seek to increase its Latino base.

But Alvarado remains confident that Hispanics will vote Republican if given a proper reason.

For Francisco Loayza, the leader of the UC Berkeley College Republicans, the answers for Latinos can be found by looking back through history at what leaders have helped Latino’s the most.

“Just point to history” said Loayza. “What has Obama done for Latinos? What did Clinton do? Nobody talks about that. Who’s the last person who passed immigration reform? Ronald Reagan. Bush appointed more Latinos than anybody else. Nobody talks about that. Just point to history.”

Switching focus to education, Lucero asked a question emailed to him that asked why Republicans failed to endorse the DREAM Act – an acronym for development, relief, and Education for Alien Minors – a piece of legislation introduced by Democrats that would provide permanent residence for illegal alien youth so they could receive an education.

Republicans refuted the bill as a gimmick and political ploy by Democrats who they inferred have no vested interest in the betterment of Latino youth.

“This is a quintessential political move by the Democrats,” Del Bacarro said. What about the shattered dreams of the 60 percent of Latinos in Los Angeles who dropped out of high school? Why are they creating a program for citizens not in our country, when the Latinos and African Americans in L.A. can’t get an education in the schools they’re already in.”

An audience member who gave only his first name of Arturo, chimed in, and asked what purpose an education would serve an immigrant who’s citizenship would remain the same, and therefore, be ineligible for a job.

“This issue is so controversial, because everybody’s hurting,” said Michelle Rivas, a board member of the Twin Rivers Unified School District. “Families are hurting financially, so when it’s portrayed that some kids are getting preferential treatment, it upsets some. We should help kids if they’re eligible to go to school because I don’t believe they want special treatment, just equal access.”

Miryam Barajas, the California Republican Party deputy finance director, took the opportunity to emphasize the importance of electing more Latino Republicans.

She said once a Latino sees another Latino sitting on a school board with the title of Republican, and sees that elected official is fighting for the children, it will encourage others to do the same.

“The bottom line is this,” said Del Baccaro after nearly an hour of conversation. “Most Latinos came here to escape poverty and escape government. And now our government is prohibiting them from getting an education and allowing them to prosper.”

Steve Hayes February 27, 2012 at 02:11 AM
Here are some - 1. Reagan was a serial tax raiser. 2. Reagan nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. 3. Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. 4. Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously. 5. Reagan did little to fight a woman’s right to choose. 6. Reagan was a “bellicose peacenik.” 7. Reagan gave amnesty to 3 million undocumented immigrants. 8. Reagan illegally funneled weapons to Iran. 9. Reagan vetoed a comprehensive anti-Apartheid act. 10. Reagan helped create the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. and here are some details http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2011/02/05/142288/reagan-centennial/?mobile=nc
Cathy P. February 27, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Thank you Steve, couldn't have said it better myself ;D
Brash Brazen February 27, 2012 at 10:02 PM
Apparently Newt was too busy pointing toward the border to address this small group. He was busier than a set of jumper cables at a Puerto Rican wedding !!!
Robert Moreno February 28, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Do you think Democrats have defined what a "Latino voter" is? Who really gives a rats behind? I am certain both parties at one time said "Hey what about the Hispanic vote they are a growing population!" That is such a minor issue to bring to the table. I am totally disgusted that discussions and questions like; why we were allowed to lose our financial reputation and why couldn't the House could not come to an agreement on the budget? Why was our country held financially hostage for their own political party purposes instead of them looking at the big picture and the pride of our country? Where was the discussion and questions about putting more people to work and why did the House shoot down the jobs bill act? What are we going to do to ensure not only the Hispanic child get good education but all kids. 'No kid gets left behind" was a total joke, ask any school teacher! I am disspointed that the question was not something along the lines as; "What do we need to do to ensure the middle class is not overlooked this time with a Republican President?" or maybe "What do you know about the tax bill that Republicans have been working so hard to keep and everyone says it benefits only the rich?' Ask a question that will educate and empower, not one that instigates and deflects the real issues! nuff said Robert Moreno
Cathy P. February 28, 2012 at 03:33 PM
"Ask a question that will educate and empower..." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- "Divide & conquer" Robert, That's the game they play.

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