National pro-immigration reform group Cafe Con Leche Republicans today reacted to the presidential election debacle. Bob Quasius, president, said
Yesterday’s election results show it is imperative that the Republican Party improve Latino outreach or become permanently uncompetitive in presidential and many other races. Exit and election-eve polls put Mitt Romney’s votes among Latinos at 23%, although over 60% of Latinos are center-right, according to Pew Research.
Polls consistently show a majority of Republicans support immigration reform, including a path to legalization, and a PEW Research poll from May 2011 showed that even among staunch conservatives there is a 49/49% split on immigration reform. However, due to lack of engagement and outreach and shrill rhetoric on this issue from a small minority of Republican politicians, Democrats have been successful in unfairly framing the Republican party as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino, particularly in states where there has been harsh rhetoric on immigration.
This trend started in California. Prior to proposition 187, Republicans were competitive in statewide races, but since Governor Pete Wilson jumped on the proposition 187 bandwagon, many Hispanics left the GOP and since then the GOP has not been competitive in statewide races in California.
Latino outreach improved during the Reagan/Bush years, and President Bush won over 40% of the Latino vote during his reelection campaign, proving that Latinos can be swayed to vote Republican with the right messaging and sensible solutions to issues of interest to Latinos like immigration.
However, since SB1070 and other harsh laws were passed, mass exodus of conservative Hispanics has occurred in Colorado following Tom Tancredo’s candidacy for Governor, in Arizona following SB1070, and in Nevada due to harsh rhetoric from Sharon Angle in the U.S. Senate race.
Cafe Con Leche Republicans initially supported Newt Gingrich, and one of our reasons is that Newt’s campaign recognized the importance of outreach to Latinos and a sensible stance on immigration reform, neither mass amnesty nor mass deportations but a solution that addresses our broken immigration system and seeks to strike a balance between accountability for illegal immigration, and the need to keep families together and avoid damaging our economy. Newt’s campaign reached out to us, and ultimately Cafe Con Leche Republicans provided five members of Newt’s national Hispanic leadership team.
When Newt dropped out of the race and Mitt Romney became the nominee, we decided to support Mitt Romney. Numerous attempts to connect with the Romney campaign’s Hispanic outreach proved fruitless. In our one year of existence, we’ve also had just one conversation with the RNC’s Latino outreach, and were left with the impression the RNC wasn’t interested in working with us due to our pro-immigration focus.
A common complaint among Latino Republican leaders is that RNC Latino outreach is dominated by a small clique of Latino Republicans from Washington DC and Florida, to the exclusion of others, particularly from the Southwest. We share the frustration of Latino Republican leaders from outside the DC/Florida clique that Mitt Romney received bad advice to largely ignore immigration, and some of Mitt’s rhetoric and association with immigration extremist Kris Kobach early in the campaign provided useful fodder for Democrats to frame Mitt Romney as anti-immigrant and anti-Latino, which we don’t believe is the case.
It’s time to root out the small minority of immigration extremists from the GOP. That process is already underway, for example Russell Pearce, the author of SB1070, has now twice been defeated by conservative Republicans who differed mainly by having sensible positions on immigration reform. We’d like to see Kris Kobach leave the party. Kobach is a top lieutenant to John Tanton, a notorious bigot and population control progressive, who once bragged how he manipulates Republicans. In a letter to a supporter, Tanton in 2001 stated:
The goal is to change Republicans’ perception of immigration so that when they encounter the word “immigrant,” their reaction is “Democrat.”
Our plan is to hire a lobbyist who will carry the following message to Republicans on Capitol Hill and to business leaders: Continued massive immigration will soon cost you political control of the White House and Congress, given the current, even division of the electorate, and the massive infusion of voters about to be made to the Democratic side. We are about to replay the Democratic hegemony of 1933-53, fueled back then by the massive immigration of 1890-1924.
It’s time for the GOP to recognize this pattern of manipulation, and fully embrace immigration reform based on free market principles, and not arbitrarily low quotas promoted by population control progressives like Tanton. Harsh rhetoric on immigration coupled with lack of adequate engagement with Latinos and race baiting by Democrats has resulted in very low GOP support among Latinos, and we ignore this at our own political peril.
The 2012 election served up lemons for Republicans, but with sensible changes in strategy and direction we can make lemonade instead. Already we’re hearing that party leaders have woken up and ‘smelled the coffee’ and we’re hopeful this situation can be turned around.
President Obama promised to pursue immigration reform during his second term. Due to President Obama’s history of immigration fakery and failure to put anything on the table during his first term, we have reason to doubt this promise, but he is welcome to surprise us. With the election behind us, we have put our partisan hats and boxing gloves aside, and we stand fully ready to work with President Obama and Democrats on immigration reform, which won’t happen without bipartisan support. We hope that President Obama will ‘hit the reset button’ in his relationship with Republicans in Congress, as the hyper-partisanship that has characterized the last four years has been a major stumbling block to governing our nation.
About Us – Cafe Con Leche Republicans is a national organization of Republicans who welcome “New Americans”, defined as immigrants and family of recent immigrants. Our mission is to make America and the GOP, more welcoming to “New Immigrants” through political activism, “in-reach” and education within the Republican Party, and lobbying government to adopt more immigrant friendly policies. We also seek to bring more conservative and moderate “New Americans” to the Republican Party. These efforts will strengthen the GOP, and lead more Republicans to embrace welcoming policies for immigrants and their families. We have members nationwide, with chapters in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, and California. Our members and leadership are predominantly Hispanic, though we define ourselves by mission and guiding principles, not ethnicity, and we welcome all who share our goals. Our leadership is 100% Republican.