Saturday, December 7, 2019

Congress creates obstacles for GOP Latino outreach, recruitment

Latino GOP

Republican operatives tasked with attracting Latino voters just might have the hardest job in Washington. Party leaders, in their first month with a bicameral majority, have been attempting to get their members to soften their tone on undocumented immigration and engage in coalition building with a long-disillusioned Latino electorate to ignite a conversation around issues like the economy, health care and education: topics where Republicans feel they can make critical headway with their new target constituency.

“It makes our job very difficult,” said Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the conservative American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, in reference to the GOP’s ongoing shunning of undocumented immigrants. “We’re swimming against the current,” Aguilar added, as the Republican Party has promoted some of immigration’s harshest and most outspoken critics to major positions of power (see Sen. Jeff Sessions) and repeatedly threatened to dismantle President Obama’s executive actions.

Following the 2012 election, the proverbial autopsy report concluded that the GOP needed to improve its policies and tone when dealing with immigration legislation and Latinos in general. The failed “self-deportation” strategy endorsed by then-candidate Mitt Romney translated – unsurprisingly – into a mere 27 percent of the Latino vote, so Republican strategists in the Republican National Committee (RNC) formed initiatives to reverse that trend.

The LIBRE Initiative is one such group that advocates for conservative principles in their outreach, and is expanding operations day-by-day, but the prognosis is still not great. “Republicans better offer up solutions other than just border security,” said Daniel Garza, executive director of LIBRE. “The Latino electorate, and all Americans, expect that. We’re not seeing it, and we better see it.”

So while Congress continues to alienate a pivotal voting bloc, Latino focus will likely shift away from partisan politics and onto 2016 and its candidates. The mainstream media has created a clear good/bad binary for Democrats/Republicans in the minds of Latino voters; jumping that hurdle will prove difficult, but necessary for any prolonged GOP success.

USA Today