Hispanic Caucus hypocrisy
The all-Democrat Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) is refining hypocrisy to its highest level in Washington, D.C.
The CHC has denied Republican U.S. House of Representatives member – and Cuban-American – Carlos Curbelo of Miami membership in a disgraceful display of petty partisanship.
This hypocrisy is not new, nor confined to Washington. In California, the highest ranking elected Hispanic Republican in the state, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez (colonel, USMC ret.), asked to join the California legislature's version of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in 2014. The group turned him down, citing "values"; Republican Hispanics do not share the "values" of Hispanic Democrats. Abortion, for example.
In 2012, Chavez, a former acting secretary of the California Department of Veterans Affairs under Governors Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and Jerry Brown (D) and an elected Oceanside city councilman, was overwhelmingly elected to the state legislature, having carried every precinct in North San Diego County's overwhelmingly non-Hispanic district.
He ran to solve immigration problems (California having the highest number of immigrants, legal and illegal, in the country); health and education problems (after the Marines, he ran a charter high school); and intelligent governance that encourages growth and rational economics.
He was and is totally issue-oriented. He joined several bipartisan efforts in the Assembly on legislation supporting comprehensive immigration reform, on allowing an illegal alien to practice law, and on other efforts lacking general Republican support.
When sworn into office, he innocently mentioned to Democratic colleagues that he would like to join the Latino Legislative Caucus so he could work with its members on bipartisan issues. He never heard back from the group.
Chavez told the Los Angeles Times, "When I didn't get a response, I asked what the deal was, and they said that I wouldn't be allowed in. ... They do not allow Republicans to be part of the group." Never have.
Democratic state senator Ricardo Lara, chairman of the Latino Caucus in 2014, rationalized the policy that excluded Chavez: it had been in "place since the caucus was founded (over) 40 years ago by five Democratic lawmakers" when there were no Republican Latinos in the legislature. In fact, at that time, there were only five Hispanics in the 120-seat legislature, all Democrats.
In contrast to the restrictionist Latino Caucus membership, the Asian Legislative Caucus welcomes members from both parties.
The Latino Legislative Caucus's website says the caucus exists "to identify key issues affecting Latinos and develop avenues to empower the Latino community throughout California." That means all Latinos and all Latino problems, doesn't it – not just Democrats? I digress.
Properly motivated, Hispanic voters outpace other voters in supporting or opposing issues they feel strongly about. For example, in 1994's infamous Proposition 187 vote that would have expelled mostly Hispanic children from schools without "due process," nor allowed medical treatment to those same children in hospitals – over 75 percent of California's Hispanic electorate voted against "187." They went overwhelmingly with Democrats.
On the other hand, in the 1982 California gubernatorial election, many Hispanics abandoned the Democratic Party's candidate for governor – L.A. mayor Tom Bradley (African-American) – and voted Republican. In doing so, they created the famous "Bradley Effect" – i.e., telling pollsters one thing and voting the opposite.
Colonel Chavez has been re-elected twice since 2012. He is favored to win again in 2018. He is still Hispanic, he is still a Republican, and he still isn't a member of the California Latino Caucus.
Change the name to Carlos Curbelo, change the state to Florida, and change the California legislature to the United States House of Representatives, and the exact same hypocrisy occurs as it did with Chavez.
"It is truly shameful the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) has decided to build a wall around the organization to exclude Hispanic-Americans who aren't registered in the Democratic Party," Curbelo told the Associated Press. "This sends a powerful and harmful message of discrimination, bigotry, and division. Unbelievably, petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics. It is a dark day on Capitol Hill."
"After due consideration, the CHC determined not to accept Rep. Curbelo's request to join the Caucus. The CHC isn't just an organization for Hispanics; it is a Caucus that represents certain values," said a taxpayer-paid CHC spokesman. Values?
The CHC demanded that Curbelo abandon his potentially successful "DREAMer" bill to legalize people who were brought here illegally as children and, instead, support the CHC's Democrat bill that has no chance to pass into law. He refused, so the CHC denied his request to join the group.
Hypocrisy is spelled CHC and D-E-M-O-C-R-A-T.
Contreras is the author of The Armenian Lobby & U.S. Foreign Policy (Berkeley Press, 2017) and The Mexican Border: Immigration, War and a Trillion Dollars in Trade (Floricanto Press 2016). he formerly wrote for the New American News Service of the New York Times.