We all know that efforts from conservatives to reach out to Hispanics have not been very effective, or at least consistent enough. In more than a few occasions many conservatives have even managed to antagonize Latinos, particularly with their positions on immigration. In fact, the anti-immigrant rhetoric of some conservatives such as J.D. Hayworth and Tom Tancredo has regrettably led many to generalize that all Republicans are anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic, something that is simply not true.
picIt is for this and no other reason that Hispanic voters have favored liberal candidates in recent years. It is certainly not because Latinos are liberal; the values of our community are unquestionably conservative values. Latinos are pro-life and favor traditional marriage. Also, they are very entrepreneurial and pro-business. Latinos are opening business at a rate three times faster than the national average.
Moreover, and contrary to what many Democrats believe, Latinos do not like big government. Hispanics have seen in their own countries the economic stagnation and general poverty that government interventionism begets. That is why they come to the United States. Because they know that in this country, thanks to our constitutional system of limited government and free enterprise, they will find the necessary freedom and opportunity to carve out a better future for themselves. Latinos come here to work, not in search of handouts.
In sum, as Ronald Reagan used to say, Latinos are conservative, but they just don’t know it.
Fortunately, a few days ago an initiative that seeks precisely to revert this situation saw the light of day. In a press conference in Washington, which I had the pleasure of leading, we launched the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, a new project which seeks to promote conservative values and ideals within the Latino community, and to integrate Latinos into the conservative movement so they can participate in a more thorough and active manner. The Latino Partnership is an initiative of the American Principles Project (APP), a conservative organization devoted to defending and promoting the fundamental principles on which our country is based.
I’m convinced that if conservatives make an intelligent approach to Hispanics, they will respond favorably. I recognize, however, that in contrast to past efforts, this approach must focus on specific ideas, so that Hispanics can understand that their values are in tune with the conservative message.
It is clear that in order to receive support from Latinos, many conservatives must open up to the Hispanic community. That is why the Latino Partnership will work to educate conservatives about the values and aspirations of Latinos; so that they can realize that Latinos come here to contribute to the social and economic development of the country, and that their ideals coincide with those of conservatives.
First and foremost, many conservatives must change their position on immigration. In this regard the Latino Partnership will fight and press Congress to discuss and approve this year an immigration reform that will do justice to Latinos; that legalizes undocumented immigrants and allows a larger number of migrants to enter the United States to work. We will also press President Obama not to throw in the towel, and to keep his word. And, since this should be a bipartisan effort, we will work to obtain support for an immigration bill from conservative members of Congress and senators.
Furthermore, the Latino Partnership is planning to campaign among Latino voters and will dedicate substantial resources to support candidates that are committed to fundamental conservative ideals and values and also supportimmigration reform. The Latino Partnership has an initial fund of over half a million dollars for this effort. It is a pleasure and an honor to serve as Senior Fellow and Spokesman for the Latino Partnership. Important personalities from politics and entertainment have also joined our initiative. Our Board of Directors, which we have only begun to put together, includes Luis Fortuño, Governor of Puerto Rico; Grover Norquist, conservative activist and President of Americans for Tax Reform; Eduardo Verastegui, the famous actor and producer; and Karyme Lozano, the renowned soap opera actress.
Finally, it is important to point out that through our efforts we will remind the Latino community, and the conservative movement as well, that there are a great many pro-immigration Republicans; that conservative presidents such as Reagan and Bush fought for the approval of legislation in favor of immigrants, ever mindful that the United States is a nation of immigrants that should welcome whomever comes here to work hard and contribute to the improvement of our society. As President Bush used to say, “immigrants make the United States more, not less, American.”