Whom does Representative Maria Salazar represent?

When a citizen is elected to Congress, he is conferred the title of "representative," with each "representative" elected to a two-year term, "serving the people of their specific congressional district."

So it was disconcerting to hear Representative Maria Elvira Salazar, a Republican from Florida's 27th district, address the recently concluded World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, in her official congressional capacity and declare that she "represents" the millions of migrants presently inside the sovereign borders of this nation illegally.

Speaking as part of a bipartisan panel discussing "the reshaped legislative landscape in the United States as it relates to domestic and foreign policy," the crux of her remarks to the attendees was that she wanted to give "dignity" to illegal migrants that are living inside the United States."  She would elaborate:

We need to also give dignity to those people who are in the country.  And those are the people that I represent.  We're talking about 13, 15 million people who are most of them Hispanics — I would say 85 percent — who speak my language, look like me and sound like me.

Whether she unwittingly made her comments, not realizing that they would be taken as coming in her official capacity, she — not surprisingly — generated a loud and vocal reaction on social media.  Comments were quick to point out that the relatively junior Representative Salazar may be confused or not understand whom exactly she was elected to "represent" in Congress.  Those millions of migrants are not her district's constituents, and her ethnic affinity (she is Cuban-American) for most of the migrants does not supplant or supersede her congressional responsibilities for her district's constituents.

A fundamental issue in the practice of our representative democracy is whom an individual representative feels he represents and the actions he takes based on that understanding.  This presumed right of the people to instruct their elected representatives has deep roots in the American experience.  Constituents elect politicians to be their agents in passing laws and setting public policy and assume that the will of the people is consulted and accommodated when doing so.

To this end, representatives and their staffs devote individual attention to requests and the views from citizens of their district.  One would be hard pressed to think Representative Salazar acted upon strong input from citizens in her Florida district (even with its heavy Hispanic demographic) expressing their desire for her to attend the globalist WEF conference in Davos, let alone for her to publicly suggest in that very forum that she would give illegal aliens the same representation as U.S. citizens in her district.

Attentively working the issues, concerns, and requests from her district's constituents should be Representative Salazar's — indeed, any member of Congress's — full-time job, requiring her time, energy, and intellect.  Is it then too much to ask of Salazar that she correctly focus her attention on serving the constituents of the district she was duly elected to represent and trust that the larger issue of the millions of people who have entered this nation illegally must be acted upon by the full Congress?

Voters in her district will decide her future in office and whether they agree (or not) with her overall views on immigration — in Davos, she all but called for amnesty.  Plus she will undoubtedly face continued national opposition in the Republican Party for her views.  But Salazar did herself no favors when she was not able as a member of Congress to say, "I have listened to my constituents, and based upon what I heard, this is my position."  If she had, her constituents and the rest of the nation could take some measure of satisfaction that Salazar at least acknowledges whom she is supposed to work for.

Image: U.S. Congress.

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