Chairman of Latino Coalition: Dems, GOP have used immigration as a 'wedge issue'

Hector Barreto, chairman of The Latino Coalition, said on Tuesday that Democrats and Republicans have both used immigration as a divisive political issue heading into the November midterm elections.

"Both parties have used this issue as a wedge issue," Barreto, a Republican, told Hill.TV's Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton on "Rising."

"They've demagogued this issue," he added. "There's plenty of examples."

"During the last administration, when they could have solved the problem without any Republican votes, they blinked and they didn't do it," Barreto said. "So, you know, we think that both parties are responsible, but I think people are fed up with this issue, and they really do want a solution, but neither side is going to get everything that they want."

The Latino Coalition is a nonpartisan group that promotes the business interests of Hispanics.

Barreto's comments come as President TrumpDonald John TrumpOver 100 lawmakers consistently voted against chemical safeguards: study CNN's Anderson Cooper unloads on Trump Jr. for spreading 'idiotic' conspiracy theories about him Cohn: Jamie Dimon would be 'phenomenal' president MORE is looking to shine even more of a spotlight on the issue of immigration ahead of the midterms.

"I think we're going to have much more of a red wave than what you're going to see as a phony blue wave," Trump said at the White House on Monday. "Blue wave means crime, it means open borders. Not good."

Trump faced backlash earlier this year for his zero-tolerance immigration policy that led to the separation of thousands of migrant families at the U.S. southern border. He later signed an executive order in June ending the practice.

But Trump is still focusing on border security ahead of the midterms.

Trump last month threatened to shut down the government if Democrats did not vote in the coming months to fund the border wall that was a central part of his 2016 campaign.

"I would be willing to 'shut down' government if the Democrats do not give us the votes for Border Security, which includes the Wall! Must get rid of Lottery, Catch & Release etc. and finally go to system of Immigration based on MERIT! We need great people coming into our Country!" Trump tweeted. 

Senate Republican leaders, meanwhile, are looking to pass immigration legislation that could appeal to independent and swing voters heading into the midterm elections.
 
"I think the president has some good ideas, and he's put those forward, but he can't do it unilaterally," Barreto said. "He's got to have partners in both parties that will work with him."
 
Barreto said that the post-midterm period might offer an opportunity for movement on legislation.
 
"Hopefully, after the midterms, they can get to work on that because they always run into these election cycles — 'no, it's too close to the presidential, it's too close to the midterm.' So you're only going to have a short window after the midterm to hopefully get some legislation," he said.

— Julia Manchester