POLITICS

Koch brothers trying to shed anti-immigrant image and help conservative candidates

HOMESTEAD, FL - FEBRUARY 17:  Alexandra Rodelo, 5, helps with an American flag after she watched her brother sworn in as a United States citizen during a naturalization ceremony put on by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Biscayne National Park on February 17, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. The ceremony saw roughly 150 people, primarily children, sworn in from countries around the globe such as China, Philippines and Cuba, among others.  (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

HOMESTEAD, FL - FEBRUARY 17: Alexandra Rodelo, 5, helps with an American flag after she watched her brother sworn in as a United States citizen during a naturalization ceremony put on by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at the Biscayne National Park on February 17, 2015 in Homestead, Florida. The ceremony saw roughly 150 people, primarily children, sworn in from countries around the globe such as China, Philippines and Cuba, among others. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)  (2015 Getty Images)

Long viewed as opponents to undocumented immigrants and supporters of conservative lawmakers who support stricter immigration laws, David and Charles Koch are quietly trying to turn around this image and help their Republican allies make gains come Election Day next year.

The LIBRE Initiative, a group funded by the billionaire brothers, has set up test prep sessions in Nevada to teach the rules of the road to Latinos – many undocumented immigrants – who want to obtain a driver's license.

According to the Washington Post, the effort appears to be working.

"President Obama promised to do more for us, and it just didn't happen," Paula Hernández, an undocumented restaurant supervisor said, adding that the classes were a "great help."

The news is a positive sign for Republican candidates who are struggling to garner support among Latinos, especially among those who oppose citizenship for undocumented immigrants and are supported by the Koch brothers. Members of the LIBRE Initiative say that conservatives have for years taken a back seat to liberal groups in working with the Hispanic community, and that needs to change.

"Latino celebrities, unions and left-leaning community groups" for decades have done a far better job in courting the Hispanic vote and "engaging directly with the Latino community," said Daniel Garza, executive director of LIBRE. Garza is a opinion contributor to Fox News Latino.

Along with the driving classes, LIBRE offers tax preparation help, wellness checkups, scholarships and food giveaways in Texas, Colorado, Florida and other states. It has also purchased ads in Spanish-language media promoting the "free market," smaller government and school choice.

"They are making friends and trying to convince you that the Democratic agenda is bad," Matt Barreto, co-founder of the research and polling firm Latino Decisions, told the Washington Post.

The Koch brothers' vested interest in the Latino vote can be seen by their funding of the LIBRE Initiative.

While Garza said his group has hundreds of donors, tax records, LIBRE has received $10 million since it began in 2011 from Freedom Partners, a nonprofit group backed by the Koch brothers and other conservative donors.

Despite the attempts by LIBRE, conservative politicians still have a long road ahead of them to win widespread Latino support and change perceptions among Hispanic voters about the GOP.

Salvador Garnica, a permanent resident originally from Mexico who attended a class in Las Vegas, said that despite the help he wasn't about to support Republicans.

"They are for the rich," he said.

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