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

    California Republicans Mull Choices in Presidential Race

    Ted Cruz tells California Republican Convention delegates the campaign will be 'a battle on the ground, district by district by district,' ahead of the June 7 primary

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, many Kurds are trying to escape turmoil by focusing on success of football team Amedspor

    South African Company Designs Unique Solar Cooker

    Two-man team of solar power technologists introduces Sol4, hot plate that heats up so fast it’s like cooking with gas or electricity

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora