LatinaLista — As more and more Republican state politicians running for office take their cues from Arizona in proposing harsh legislation targeting undocumented immigrants, it has been disappointing as to either how silent or compliant Latino Republicans have been with the actions of these political-AZ-Gov.-Brewer-wannabes.
While some Hispanic Republicans have publicly supported the get-tough approach on illegal immigration advocated by some GOP state party platforms, there’s hasn’t been a vocal response, one way or the other, to the specific AZ-style immigration legislation that is being considered in a handful of states across the country and pushed by state Republicans.
Maybe that’s why there’s been a sense of freedom among the GOP to propose whatever they want regarding terrorizing undocumented immigrants without giving a second thought to how Hispanic members of the Party feel.
Well, finally some are speaking out — and it’s making a difference.
Days after Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, who is running for Florida Governor, presented his version of a tough immigration enforcement bill along with the declaration “Arizona is going to want this law” is having to eat some serious words.
His proposal, which would have required every immigrant to carry papers or face jail time plus face stiffer penalties if they committed the same crime as a legal resident “blindsided and disappointed” U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, co-chair of McCollum’s Hispanic leadership team.
A Republican lobbyist and fundraiser, Ana Navarro, said she could no longer back McCollum’s campaign.
It even drew a vocal disagreement from FL U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart. Marco Rubio, a FL GOP Senate candidate, went on record saying he had “concerns” about the measure.
Come to find out, McCollum didn’t even consult one of his Hispanic advisors before presenting his immigration bill.
Now, he’s pulling back to do something he should have done before — talk it over with his Hispanic advisors, or more accurately, strategize how to do damage control among a population that holds grudges, doesn’t forget and has a sensitive streak when it’s felt someone is being disrespectful.
In a state that has almost half a million Latino residents, it would be a shocker that he didn’t feel the need to consult with any of his Latino advisors if it weren’t for the fact that, until now, nobody has publicly objected to this type of GOP rhetoric.
If no one had spoken out, it’s certain that McCollum would have not only traveled the campaign trail boasting about his immigration law at every opportunity but he would have done it without giving one single thought as to how it’s received by the Latino electorate in Florida.
According to Miami Herald‘s Editorial Page Editor, Myriam Marquez, that would have been a big mistake:
…not every Cuban arrived as a refugee. Many, like my father, arrived as tourists if they could get out of Cuba’s hell in the early days of the revolution and then stayed as the firing squads raged in Havana. Until the Cuban Adjustment Act was passed by Congress in 1966, thousands of Cuban exiles were in legal limbo here.
Still, McCollum’s knee-jerk response to Scott’s early TV ads touting the Arizona law hits a nerve. What of the Venezuelans here illegally because they overstayed their tourist visas but fear returning to leftist Hugo ChÃ¡vez’s “Cuba-zuela?” The Colombians who left during the narco wars and have made a life here?
Those are the groups just now becoming U.S. citizens after a lengthy, arduous process. Many have “illegal” family members that McCollum would like to imprison.
If more Latino Republicans would speak out then maybe the GOP leadership won’t so easily disregard the presence of their Latino peers or the lives of 12 million undocumented immigrants who are only trying to survive.