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

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party 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.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs