An officially nonpartisan political fundraising group that aims to raise the number of Latinos running for office across the United States is rescinding its support for a Republican vying for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
The Latino Victory Fund on Monday said it would not have held a June fundraiser for the candidate, Raul Danny Vargas, if they had known that he opposes an executive order by President Barack Obama that gives temporary relief from deportation to undocumented parents of people who are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents.
The fund is part of the Latino Victory Project, which was co-founded by actress Eva Longoria and Texas businessman Henry R. Muñoz III.
“We have learned that Mr. Vargas opposes one of our core values—support for Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA)—which is essential for many Latino families,” said Latino Victory Project President Cristóbal J. Alex, in a statement. "Had we known this, we would not have hosted him.”
Vargas has said he supports comprehensive immigration reform, and believes that there must be an enduring solution to how to handle the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who live in the United States. He has voiced support for a 2012 executive order by Obama that suspended deportation for two years for undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as minors.
In December, the president, expressing frustration over Congress’s inaction on immigration reform, expanded the relief for undocumented immigrants by making more people eligible for the 2012 program and adding deportation relief for undocumented parents.
The Latino Victory Fund event on Vargas' behalf, held at the group's offices, raised eyebrows – it was the first such fundraiser Latino Victory held for a Republican candidate.
Vargas was quoted by NBC News on Monday as saying that he opposes DAPA because it is not a real solution, just a stopgap. But he stopped short of echoing other Republicans who also oppose it in the belief that Obama is making sweeping changes unilaterally.
"What I would focus on is finding a way to bring people together to provide a set of common-sense solutions with set, sustainable, reliable, permanent solutions and a legislative solution," Vargas told NBC.
He added that programs such as DAPA dissuade Congress from addressing the issue in a more substantive and long-term manner.
The Latino Victory Fund also took issue with what they said was the erroneous impression that they had endorsed Vargas in the race against Democrat Jennifer Boysko and independent Paul Brubaker to fill the seat of retiring GOP delegate, Thomas Davis Rust.
"We have not and will not endorse him. Furthermore cofounders, Henry R. Muñoz III and Eva Longoria are not involved in our endorsement process and were not involved in the event at our office," Alex said, according to NBC.
Vargas was quoted by NBC as saying: "I think many of the folks that either are part of Latino Victory Project or [are] supporting it still see me as the best candidate for my position.”
Vargas was born to Puerto Rican parents in New York City and grew up in a poor neighborhood of Brooklyn before joining the U.S. Air Force in the early 1980s. After his time in the military, he worked for Sprint. In 2004, he began his own business, VARCom Solutions, which provides marketing, communications and public relations services to a number of government agencies, non-profit organizations and political campaigns.
The Virginia businessman has been very involved in Latino politics for some time.
He held the post of national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly from 2007 to 2009 and was appointed in 2009 by Congress to serve on a bipartisan commission to study the creation of an American Latino Museum at the Smithsonian Institution. Also serving on the museum commission were Longoria and Muñoz, who was its chairman.
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