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Latinos defy norm, support Perry and Republicans among immigration backlash

By Audris Ponce
The Venture

HOUSTON — In a political atmosphere where the phrases “illegals,” “DREAM Act” and “racial profiling” are constantly thrown at the public, individuals known as Latino republicans seem unusual to people on both sides of the argument.

What exactly drives this group of Latinos, especially younger ones, to gravitate toward a party that is not usually associated with their community?

Latino republican might have seemed like an oxymoron decades ago, but this group is becoming more visible.

College students Elyssin Corona, 21, and Jose Melendez, 20, are aware that they are minorities within the Latino community.

“It can be strange,” Melendez, whose parents came from El Salvador, said. “When I tell people my name, ‘Hey, I’m Jose; hey, I’m conservative,’ they’re like ‘What?’ They assume Hispanic people have to be in the Democratic Party.”

According to the Pew Research Center, 60 percent of Latinos voted democrat in the 2010 national vote for the House of Representatives. Out of the 19 million Latinos eligible to vote, only 38 percent voted republican.

“I am criticized for it,” Corona, whose parents are Mexican, said. “Many people don’t agree with me.”

Corona added that it is essential to carefully phrase her debates with her democrat friends.

“Even though they may not believe the same way as I do, I’ve learned that it all depends on how you state it to someone else, because if you are making it to where you believe you are better than them, that’s when it becomes an issue,” said Corona.

The conservative values that republicans tend to be associated with draws some of these young Latinos to the right.

“I believe more Hispanics and Latinos have conservative values,” Melendez said. “I think it comes down to the immigration issue; if more Ronald Reagans were out there, more Latinos would be with the Republican Party.”

Juan Garcia, 27, from Pasadena, said republicans don’t go for what is “fashionable” in society but instead “stick to what is right.” He grew up in a politically active family who instilled in him principles that he believes are in the republican base.

“You have to stand up and work hard for what you want, and of course you can achieve it. It is possible,” Garcia said. “I believe that if you want something, you go for it; I believe the Republican Party shows that more than any of the other (parties).”

Garcia says that the Democratic Party and its politicians promise too much to voters. “When they speak it feels like they are car salesmen, ‘We will do this for you, we’ll make this better,'” Garcia said.

He believes that republicans…

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