House Republicans strip voting rights of six delegates who represent communities of color

LatinaLista — The news yesterday that one of the first acts of the new Republican-controlled House was to strip the voting rights of the five territorial delegates representing Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, the Northern Mariana Islands and American Samoa, plus the delegate from the District of Columbia didn’t make sense.

territoriesmap.jpgIf the House of Representatives is truly the “People’s House” as newly installed House Speaker John Boehner liked to say repeatedly yesterday then why silence the voices of nearly 5 million Americans represented by the votes of these six delegates?

Island territories that belong to the U.S.

It might have had something to do with five of the six delegates being Democrats and the sixth is an Independent.

There is hopeful news on the horizon, though this is Washington we’re talking about — Minority Whip Steny Hoyer introduced legislation today to reinstate the limited voting rights of these House delegates.

The delegates have slammed the change, arguing that it strips their constituents — technically U.S. citizens — of their only mouthpiece on Capitol Hill.

Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi (D-Puerto Rico) noted that his nearly 4 million constituents number more than any other single district in the House.

“By depriving my colleagues and me of our limited vote,” he said, “the Republican package sends a clear message to our constituents: ‘You don’t deserve to be heard. You don’t count. And you don’t matter.’ “

Though in fairness to this argument, revoking the voting privileges of these particular delegates has been something that the GOP has consistently done over the years when they’ve been in control.

Yet, the message this time around is much uglier when it’s taken into account that GOP legislators are trying to do away with birthright citizenship, enact more Arizona-style immigration laws, defeated the DREAM Act and continually stall on doing anything constructive when it comes to putting immigration reform on the table for debate.

Silencing the voices of these delegates who represent, for the most part, underserved/minority communities underscores the attitude of this Republican Congress towards people of color — and it’s a sure sign that they won’t be moving the country forward anytime soon.

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