Cleveland – Kentucky State Sen. Ralph Alvarado is an unlikely primetime speaker at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night.
The 46-year-old doctor of internal medicine became the first Hispanic to ever be elected to the Kentucky General Assembly in 2014. On Wednesday night, he will join Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as the only Latinos to speak at the GOP convention.
“It’s a primetime spot,” Alvarado said. “It’s a bit surreal still for me.”
Alvarado calls himself a Reagan-ite , someone who was inspired by President Ronald Reagan as a child of immigrant parents who came to California in pursuit of the American Dream.
His father came to the U.S. from Costa Rica in 1963. He was sponsored by an epidemiologist friend from Berkeley, California and then went on to teach himself English from a dictionary while working as a clerk for 25 cents an hour. Alvarado’s mother came from Argentina in 1967 for a college education.
As a child of two immigrant parents, Alvarado believes second, third and fourth generation Latinos do not care as much about immigration as the media would have them believe. Trump has famously pitched a strict immigration platform, highlighted by the need to build a wall. Despite the mogul's proposals, Alvarado is going to tell Latinos that Trump is better on immigration than his challenger Hillary Clinton.
“He talks about the wall, but he talks about a big beautiful door on the front of that wall,” Alvarado said. “He wants to widen the opportunity for legal immigration into the country.”
The Hispanic conservative knows that his job at the RNC is to deliver a hopeful message to America Wednesday-- but one particularly targeting Latinos, a voter group the Republican nominee is struggling with. It’s a tough job considering many Latino groups and Spanish language media have denounced Trump for what they believe are racist and offensive comments.
“There have been comments that I can’t agree with,” Alvarado said. “There’s things that he said that none of us like to hear, obviously with the judge…I know a lot of those things come from frustrations.”
Alvarado believes Latino immigrants can relate to the Republican message of the American Dream and who will choose Trump over Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee who he says evokes corrupt Latin American governments.
“We have two distinct choices this year,” Alvarado explains. “At this point we have somebody who is brutally honest, perhaps to a fault, and we have someone who is brutally dishonest and looks into the camera and looks at Americans at home and tells them complete lies and things that aren’t true, that commit crimes and are left off the hook.”
He believes the message of jobs, economic security and low taxes can resonate with Hispanic voters.
“Most of our families have left countries due to corrupt governments due to, frankly, politicians that are flat out liars. We escaped that - that’s why those countries don’t succeed people leave their home countries for the hope of what America is."
Alvarado admits he’s feeling anxious but he’s ready to deliver a powerful and positive message.
“I’m just grateful for the opportunity,” he said.