News / USA

Immigration Divides Republican Party Hispanics

Judy Schulz, center, cheers as her husband Richard Schulz, left, both of Glendale, Ariz., joined hundreds supporting Arizona's new law on illegal immigration as they listen to speakers near the capital in Phoenix. The law was later largely blocked by a fe
Judy Schulz, center, cheers as her husband Richard Schulz, left, both of Glendale, Ariz., joined hundreds supporting Arizona's new law on illegal immigration as they listen to speakers near the capital in Phoenix. The law was later largely blocked by a fe

Earlier this year, the Republican Party dominated legislature in the state of Arizona passed a controversial law calling for police to question the immigration status of anyone they encounter while on duty who presents what is described as  a "reasonable suspicion."  

The law was signed by Republican Governor Jan Brewer, but largely blocked in July by a federal judge. Most Hispanics are offended by the law, arousing fears in the Republican Party of the loss of key support in the years ahead.

What is SB 1070?

Recently, however, the majority of illegal immigrants entering Arizona have come from Latin America, with Mexico accounting for more than 60 percent.  Since many Hispanics in Arizona have roots in Mexico, they have sympathized with the immigrants and criticized the Arizona immigration law, calling it racist.  

But a significant number of Hispanics, especially in the Republican Party, back Governor Jan Brewer and the law known as SB 1070. Jesse Hernandez, chairman of the Arizona Latino Republican Association, is one of the them.

"There is one thing Jan Brewer is willing to do and that is enforce SB 1070, whereas her opponent, the Democrat, will not," Hernandez says.

But, despite wording in the law designed to prevent discrimination, most Hispanics think they will be targeted and many of them criticize Hernandez for his stand.

"They will come out with the comment that you are a racist, you turned against your own people -the name calling, 'Coconut,' brown on the outside, white on the inside, and that just shows me how ignorant [they are] and what a lack of education they have," says Hernandez. "Because, basically, what they are trying to say is that the Latino community does not have independent thinkers like any other culture, that we do not have differences of opinion on public policies."

Critical stance

But many Republican Hispanics oppose the immigration law and are upset with state party leaders.  Dee Dee Garcia Blase heads the group Somos Republicans, Spanish for "We are Republicans."

Blase is trying to rally Hispanic Republicans nationwide to her organization.

"We are socially conservative, we are proud of it," says Blase. "We are for less government, less taxes, but the SB 1070 is the litmus test as we continue to push and want to grow Hispanic Republicans."

The party is making a big mistake in alienating Hispanics says immigration attorney Jose Penalosa.

"The power of the Latino vote is going to call the shot here in the next generation and the party is going to look back and realize that they have committed generational suicide, election suicide, by not reaching out to people and trying to bring them in, people who have their own values," says Penalosa.

How will Hispanics vote?

Public-opinion polls show strong support for Governor Brewer and SB1070, so Republicans will likely do well in November's midterm election.  But as the Hispanic population and voter base grows, the outlook for future elections could change.

Republicans may be throwing away gains they made among Hispanics under the leadership of former President George W. Bush," says Arizona State University Political Science Professor Patrick Kenney.

"The Republican Party was exactly reaching out to Latinos, especially Mexicans, who are Catholic, on some of these social issues, controversial issues, like abortion, and I think they made some inroads there," Kenney says. "But those inroads have been washed away by this hardcore position by the Republican Party."

Democrat vs Republican

Hispanic voters favored Democrats by around two-to-one in recent Arizona elections and, as the community and voter base grows, Democratic Party spokesperson Jennifer Johnson says her party is likely to gain.

"We have seen an increase in interest in voter registration drives, there has been a lot more activity among Latino community groups in registering voters and trying to give people an outlet for the anger or frustration they feel," she says.

But many Hispanic families remain divided over the issue and Jesse Hernandez says it all comes down to the failure of the federal government to stop illegal immigration at the border.

"For a society to be successful and to do well, you have got to have laws and when you start breaking laws when it is convenient to just one race, class or one group then you start going down a very slippery slope,"  Hernandez argues.

Observers say the debate among Hispanics and in the public at large over the immigration issue is likely to go well beyond this year's elections.   

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More