It’s time for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to realize that being a Latino is not a partisan issue

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which prides itself on supposedly promoting diversity, recently denied Hispanic Congressman Carlos Curbelo of Florida entry into the group because he is a Republican. The caucus was once a bipartisan group, but has been made up of only Democrats for the last 20 years.

The caucus website does not explicitly state that a Republican cannot join. But when members had the opportunity to accept a conservative voice, they rejected him. The group’s lack of diversity is telling. The discrimination it practices towards those with different political views is insulting and un-American.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus was created to “serve as a forum for the Hispanic Members of Congress to coalesce around a collective legislative agenda.” With Republicans holding the majority in both the House and Senate, caucus Democrats had the opportunity to share their agenda with their colleagues by accepting Curbelo. Instead, members chose to exclude and insult all conservative Hispanics.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus suggests it works to advance “national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community.” If that’s the case, members need look no further than Curbelo, a steadfast leader on issues that directly impact Hispanics in the United States.

Curbelo has introduced several pieces of legislation that would help Latinos, including bills for Venezuelan and Cuban refugees, health care for Puerto Ricans, and immigration reform. Known for consistently reaching across the aisle, he was the perfect candidate for a supposedly bipartisan caucus.

This rejection extends far beyond Curbelo. The rejection of his bid further illustrates that only Democratic Latinos are allowed to join the “club” – and I don’t just mean the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

For years, fellow Latinos have tried to tell me that the Republican Party doesn’t represent me. In reality, it is the Democratic Party that is unwilling to hear my opinions, preferring to bully and shame Latinos into becoming liberals.

It’s sad that the Congressional Hispanic Caucus perpetuates this hateful, dated rhetoric that the viewpoints of conservative Hispanics are irrelevant. Or worse, suggesting that if a Hispanic espouses conservative views, he or she is not authentically Hispanic.

Members of the caucus seem to have forgotten that our country was founded through the exchange of ideas and acceptance of various viewpoints.

Denying caucus membership to a Republican sends a message to conservative Hispanics everywhere that they’re not welcome to take a seat at the table with their brothers and sisters,  and that their opinions on how to best represent the Hispanic community don’t matter.

After a stunt like this by the caucus, why would any other Republicans or independents put themselves in a position to receive the same unfair treatment?

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus should reconsider Rep. Curbelo’s application and decide on a policy for future Republicans and independents who wish to join.

Otherwise, the caucus will have to admit to what it really is: the Democratic Hispanic Caucus. Once again, Democrats reveal that liberal tolerance is a myth. They are intimidated by ideas that challenge their ideology or threaten their power over the Hispanic community.

Ideas and policies are not Hispanic, black, white or Asian. They are good, bad, effective or ineffective. It’s time for the Hispanic Congressional Caucus to realize that being a Latino is not a partisan issue.