For the first time in almost 40 years, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute has not invited a sitting president to its annual convention, citing President Donald Trump's controversial actions and remarks about Latinos.
The White House did not reply to a question about the snub and whether Trump planned to sign an annual proclamation that Congress requires presidents to issue marking the period from September 15 to October 15 for celebrating the contributions of Latinos to the U.S.
CHCI, one of the leading institutions in the development of young Latino leaders, is holding its annual convention in Washington this week. While it is nonpartisan, only two Republicans are among the 25 members of Congress on its Advisory Council.
“The president was not invited this year based on his slanderous comments and strongly disagreeable actions for the Latino community in the United States,” Rep. Joaquin Castro, Democrat-Texas, the group's chair, told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Trump upset many Latinos when, as a candidate for president, he referred to Mexican immigrants as “criminals.” His demand that a wall be built along the U.S.-Mexico border has also been controversial among Latinos.
This summer two actions by the president angered Latinos. Trump pardoned former Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Joe Arpaio after his conviction for criminal contempt of court for ignoring a court order to stop traffic patrols targeting immigrants. Last week Trump announced he would phase out the program protecting from deportation young immigrants living in the United States after being brought to the country as children.
Every president since Jimmy Carter in 1979 - except George H.W. Bush - has attended at least once CHCI's annual event marking the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month.
The Trump administration planned to engage friendlier Latino audiences this week.
U.S. Treasurer Jovita Carranza, Energy Secretary Rick Perry and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Thursday will attend the annual convention of the Latino Coalition, a conservative organization headed by Hector Barreto, who led the U.S. Small Business Administration under president George W. Bush.
In March, Vice President Mike Pence headlined a Latino Coalition event in which he celebrated the contributions of Hispanics and offered to push for policies to help Latino-owned business.