Last week, an opinion piece caught my eye. Titled “An Open Letter to Republicans in Congress,” and written by a vice president for SEIU, the Service Employees International Union. Not surprisingly, what followed sounded less like a letter and more like a political hit piece placed by Democrats.
But, setting that aside, let’s consider the substance of her “letter.”
“Here’s a question the Republican Party should resolve with their strategists and prospective presidential contenders,” the opinion piece begins, “What happened to making inroads with Latinos?”
Actually, quite a lot has happened. Following the 2012 election, the Republican National Committee dramatically expanded its Hispanic engagement initiatives, building relationships with Hispanic communities year-round and across the country.
This effort earned Republicans the support of more Hispanic voters in many close races in 2014, perhaps most notably in Florida congressional races and the Colorado Senate race. Congressman Mike Coffman of Colorado, who has been taking intensive Spanish classes to communicate better with his growing Hispanic constituency, also won a resounding victory thanks to support from Hispanic voters.
Hispanics are also among the most prominent leaders in the Republican Party. Today, there are two Hispanic governors in America: Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada. Both are Republicans. There are no current Hispanic Democrat governors.
Of the three Hispanic U.S. Senators, two are Republicans, while the Democrat, New Jersey's Robert Menendez, has been indicted.
Not to mention, to date, two Hispanic Republicans have officially launched 2016 presidential campaigns, Senators Marco Rubio from Florida and Ted Cruz from Texas. Democrats on the other hand have a smaller, less diverse, and, quite frankly, older bench.
So much for the younger, more diverse party they claim to be.
Now let’s dive into immigration reform. Part of the liberal critique of the Republican Party these days centers around this issue – an important one yes, but not the number one, two or three top issue for Latinos. Democrats’ talking points not only treat Hispanics and Latinos as single-issue voters but also conveniently ignore the facts.
When they criticize Republicans, they forget that for the first two years of the Obama presidency, Democrats controlled both the House and the Senate. Yet they did absolutely nothing on immigration.
In fact, the last president who gave us immigration reform was Ronald Reagan, a Republican. And the last president to come close to shepherding another immigration reform bill through Congress was Republican George W. Bush. On that occasion, a group of senators that included Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton voted in favor of a union-backed amendment that shattered the coalition of the bill's supporters and killed the reform.
Most recently, in Nevada, Mrs. Clinton admitted to her dismal record on immigration saying, “I was personally very disappointed that, when I was a senator for eight years, we had a few chances to try to do more for 'Dreamers,' do more for comprehensive immigration reform, and we were not successful.”
That’s right, for 8 years she accomplished zero, zip, nada on immigration.
During that time, she was in fact "adamantly against illegal immigrants," as she told New York radio host John Gambling in 2003. Now that she needs a large percentage of the Latino vote to win, she’s singing a different tune.
Lastly, unions have a clear record of hostility toward immigration, yet Democrats consistently do their bidding only to turn around and claim to stand up for the immigrant community. It’s only a severe shortage of members that has pushed unions to romance the newest crop of potential recruits, but their current words betray their long held beliefs and actions.
Need we remind Latinos that it's unions – and, therefore, Democrats – who have historically opposed a guest worker program?
Let's be clear, Latinos should be courted as our vote is increasingly important. But make no mistake, the Republican party is doing its job and surely more needs to be done and will be done, but Latinos’ support should not be taken for granted by the Democratic party.
Rosario Marin was the 41st Treasurer of the United States and is co-chair of the American Competitiveness Alliance.