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Guest opinion

The GOP's growing Hispanic rift

By failing to embrace immigrants, Republicans are making themselves largely irrelevant

I am a Mexican American and a Republican.

I remember distinctly when I first picked sides: election night, 1988. I was four. My family had just arrived in the United States. We lived in a tiny apartment in central Tucson, Arizona.

I don't remember much about the election. But I remember my mother, in Spanish, enunciating the candidates' names clearly. Bush. Dukakis. Doo – ka – kis. The Spanish equivalent of "doo-doo" is caca. My electoral choice was clear, Bush it was.

Fast forward twenty years, and I found myself in the midst of a heated presidential campaign, running a small grassroots office in Northwest Tucson for another Bush.

I recruited hundreds and hundreds of volunteers out of that office. During breaks, the volunteers would sit around chatting, and the conversation would often turn to immigration. They spoke frankly around me, their notional boss. Perhaps they had not heard my last name: My family is pale, and my fair, freckly skin looks more Irish than Mexican.

Some of the things I heard coming from these volunteers, regarding "the Mexicans," shook me: about how they should be kept out, about how the border fence could not be built high enough, made it seem as if we were the real threat to American society, as if we were the real terrorists, hiding in caves in the Sonoran desert, waiting for the right moment to strike.

I was completely torn. I relied on these volunteers, some were friends, some were mentors, and I needed them to complete my task, to play a small part in getting Bush reelected. But it broke my heart to see a party I identified with, people I identified with, so irretrievably misguided about immigration and in a deeper sense, about the meaning of America.

Six years later, my state has enacted a controversial anti-illegal-alien measure, SB 1070. The law reflects genuine frustration on the part of Arizonans with federal immigration policy. Yet it also strikes at the core of my vision of the party and of the American dream.

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It pains me to see and hear so many Republicans express anti-immigrant sentiments, and it strikes me as politically fruitless to see so many Republicans support measures such as SB 1070. The Rush Limbaughs and Chris Simcoxs of the world embarrass the party, and it pains me even more to think that the party of Lincoln, Goldwater, and Reagan, is dragged down in anti-immigrant rancor.

The GOP is not yet obsolete, nor should it be. Immigrants will embrace Republican ideals and in turn strengthen both the party and the country with a strong new base of diverse, thriving American dreamers.

This piece is excerpted from the original, posted at FrumForum.com: http://www.frumforum.com/the-gops-growing-hispanic-rift

Robert Gonzalez graduated from Stanford Law School in 2009 and is currently an attorney working in Washington, D.C.

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3 comments on this story

May 21, 2010, 12:52 pm
-0 +0

TucsonSam, you are right on the GOP.  Voting is the only way we can right a wrong.  Hopefully we continue to spread the word to our younger American-born generation that VOTING is their God given right.  I always tell my kids, “always, defend those who cannot defend themselves”.  Unfortunately, when it comes to the laws, voting is the only way.

Great comments.

Thank you.

May 21, 2010, 12:21 pm
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I too grew up in the 70s
and if you spoke Spanish you where teated like a outsider. So i had to never speak Spanish, got into better schools and have had a great life.My grandmother was born here in the Territory Of Arizona and she still lives! 100 years old. When asked about her thoughts about SB1070 she cried and said this hate for non white has been around for over 100 years and now her grand kids must go though it again.
This state has been run by the GOP for 44 years and if you look at it we are about as low as it gets, with education and human rights. Sorry to say vote out the GOP and set things right for all people whites included.
How could a Latino be a GOP with the way they hate?
You must be lost in the storm of Hate and you are doing what the GOP is needing you to do and putting on a face for them.

May 12, 2010, 3:57 pm
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Unfortunately, not me.  You know, I grew up in the 70’s.  I was a Chicana and very proud.  I wanted to make a difference and made myself a promise; that any children that I would blessed to have, would be better than me.  I remember telling my three kids when we were having some kind of debate, that no matter what the future held for them, that they should always be the best they could be.  Be a good person, work hard, have compassion for your neighbor.  Believe in God, and treat people with respect.  I also told them that one day, no matter how good of a person they were, someone would just probably see them as nothing but a Mexican.  They all argued with me and said that times had changed and that it wouldn’t happen.  Well, Gov Brewer was that one person.  You know, one of the gifts we have as parents, is to be able to tell our kids, “I told you so”.  With the passing of this law, I can’t bring myself to say that.  Why?  Because they did anything wrong, and the lesson, well, Brewer gave it to them.  In her eyes, the color of our skin means we are nothing by a bunch of Mexicans to her and her croonies. Truly sad.  By the way, we were all born here, my son is in the Military (12+ yrs), one daughter is a reservist and a teacher (no accent, lol), and my little one is a nurse.  So you see, they are better than me, but still nothing but a Mexican in White America. God Bless.

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