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

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

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

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
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 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 US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
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.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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