OPINION

Opinion: Republican candidates must figure out a way to speak to Latinos

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09:  Bystanders near the Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles church watch as supporters of same-sex marriage organized by Latino activists march between predominantly Latino neighborhoods on the Eastside and downtown to over-turn Proposition 8 on November 9, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. As many as 12,500 people have shown up to march each day since the proposition, which changes the sate constitution to outlaw gay marriage, was narrowly passed by voters on November 4. When same-sex marriage became legal in California on June 16, conservative churches vowed to fight it and succeeded in passing Proposition 8 with the help of funding, much of it from out of state, that dwarfed that of their opponents. An estimated 18,000 same-sex couples were legally married over the past six months in California, supporting a wedding industry boom that ground to a halt after Election Day.  (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 09: Bystanders near the Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Angeles church watch as supporters of same-sex marriage organized by Latino activists march between predominantly Latino neighborhoods on the Eastside and downtown to over-turn Proposition 8 on November 9, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. As many as 12,500 people have shown up to march each day since the proposition, which changes the sate constitution to outlaw gay marriage, was narrowly passed by voters on November 4. When same-sex marriage became legal in California on June 16, conservative churches vowed to fight it and succeeded in passing Proposition 8 with the help of funding, much of it from out of state, that dwarfed that of their opponents. An estimated 18,000 same-sex couples were legally married over the past six months in California, supporting a wedding industry boom that ground to a halt after Election Day. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)  (2008 Getty Images)

One year ahead of the 2016 presidential elections, the Latino community is making it clear across the country that we won’t back down when it comes to protecting our own. Just recently, in Colorado, Latinos came together to stand up against politicians who demagogue our community and hurt our families. By signing a petition calling on SNL to dump Donald Trump and vowing to boycott the show, or attending a rally to send a strong message of unity and strength, Latinos are ready to unite and fight back.

But it’s not just about being angry and pushing back against hateful rhetoric and insults, it’s also about fighting for the issues we care about and supporting the candidates that will do right by us and the people we love.

We tried giving tax breaks to corporations and the rich during President George W. Bush's administration and it left our country with massive deficit and 10.1 percent unemployment for Latinos. Based on Tuesday's discussion, it's clear that these candidates are out of touch with Latinos.

- Pili Tobar

In a recent Latino Decisions poll, when asked what issues facing the Latino community politicians should deal with, 36 percent of respondents named immigration reform, 28 percent said education reform, 22 percent health care coverage, 21 percent said jobs and the economy, and 12 percent said the environment.

These issues are central to our mission and vision at Latino Victory. We support candidates who are good on the issues that our community cares about. And Latinos have spoken loud and clear on what those issues are.

With one year left before we head back to the polls, the Latino community is once again swiftly positioning itself to pave the road for many victories in elected positions up and down the ballot. But we must make one thing clear. Latinos have not and will not hand out these victories on a silver platter. We will give our vote to the candidates that respect us and who will stand for the issues that benefit our families, our community and our entire nation. It’s about the issues.

Latino Victory Fund has endorsed four Latino congressional candidates who are proven champions for Latinos—Pete Gallego, Nannette Barragán, Darren Soto and Salud Carbajal.  These four candidates will fight to secure a future of opportunity for our families, and they will work on the issues that Latinos have identified as a priority – immigration reform, education, good jobs and a decent wage, access to healthcare, and a clean environment.

While we cannot yet say with certainty whom Latinos will support in 2016, we can say that so far, Republican presidential candidates have failed to impress us. Instead of talking to the Latino community about how they will address the issues that matter to us, they keep regurgitating the same old rhetoric that has energized us into not voting for them for the past couple of decades; the same rhetoric that has even propelled us to launch protests against extreme anti-Latino Republican candidates.

Just last week U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, who at one point stood behind comprehensive immigration reform, declared steadfastly that if elected president he would eliminate DACA and start deporting DREAMers. And while the anti-immigrant rhetoric de-escalated in the last GOP debate, we still haven't heard a solid plan from any Republican candidate on how they would protect our community from deportation and how they would get immigration reform through Congress. At the end of the day it's still Republican leadership who is blocking reform in Congress for purely political reasons. We need to hear real plans and solutions for the 11 million undocumented people in this country who live in fear.

During Tuesday night's debate, Donald Trump said wages are too high, and Marco Rubio said "what makes America special is that we have millions and millions of people that are not rich..." There are millions of Latinos and Americans in poverty who would greatly benefit from having more money in their pockets to feed their family and give their children a safe home and quality education. We tried giving tax breaks to corporations and the rich during President George W. Bush's administration and it left our country with massive deficit and 10.1 percent unemployment for Latinos. Based on Tuesday's discussion, it's clear that these candidates are out of touch with Latinos.

Latino Victory Fund will continue pushing back on anti-immigrant and anti-Latino rhetoric. We also will keep endorsing and helping proven candidates who are good on our issues. Because we know that when we gather our support, resources and training behind strong candidates who will support our community, we win. Latinos are listening, not just to the anti-immigrant anti-Latino rhetoric, but also to the substance of the debate. We do not toy with our family’s future. And when the time comes to choose, Latinos will make an informed decision and vote. Republican candidates must figure out a way to speak to us because Latinos are listening, and so far we don't like what we're hearing.  They’re the only ones missing out.

Pili Tobar is Director of Communications at Latino Victory Project. 

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