Latino groups say Trump's GOP 'is the party of White nationalists' ahead of convention speech

Latino groups say Trump's GOP 'is the party of White nationalists' ahead of convention speech
© Rafael Bernal

A broad alliance of Hispanic political and civil rights organizations Thursday condemned GOP policy and rhetorical shifts under President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE on Thursday, saying "the distance between the National Republican Party and the nation’s Latinos couldn’t be wider."

“With Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and the near-total capitulation of Congressional Republicans to his party takeover, today’s Republican Party is the party of White nationalists," the groups' representatives said in a statement released ahead of Trump’s address to close out this week’s Republican National Convention.

The joint statement was signed by the political arms of the country's two largest Latino civil rights groups, UnidosUS and the League of United Latin American Citizens, and two of the largest voting advocacy groups, Voto Latino and Mi Familia Vota.

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The document was presented by UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía in an event outside the former Newseum in Washington, D.C., timed to coincide with Trump's re-nomination acceptance speech.

"We remember a Republican Party that used to reach out to Latino voters, that used to reach out to Latinos in Latinas as it related to policies and actions, but today we see a complete hijacking of this party by President Trump and a complicit nature of the party leaders to uplift these extreme comments, these extreme statements, that reveal the true bigoted nature of this administration," Murguía said

"We have built up our organizations politically and we intend to mobilize and make sure that we have the largest Latino voter turnout in the history of this country and I'm proud to stand with these organizations as we denounce this extremism, this racism, and say we're going to mobilize our political power our Latino and Latina voters and we're going to show up on the Election Day," she added.

In contrast to their scathing accusations against Republicans under Trump, the groups touted past and current GOP leaders who have prioritized good relationships with the Latino community, including former Presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush.

"Intense differences and debates abounded, but under these administrations, there were at least some efforts, through outreach and policies, to find some common ground with Latinos," the statement read.

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The groups touted Reagan's 1986 tax bill, as well other legislation and Hispanic Cabinet appointments under the three presidents.

Reagan and both Bushes were relatively popular among Latinos for their policies and welcoming rhetoric; the second Bush famously obtained more than 40 percent of the overall Latino vote in the 2004 election.

But the groups said the Republican Party, despite an "autopsy report" following their defeat in 2012 that directed party leaders to seek out minority support, has instead turned away from Hispanics.

"Those making a case for the expansion of the party’s base have been largely ostracized or benched, and rather than a larger tent, the door to the National Republican Party is now walled off and above it hangs a sign that says 'Whites Only,'" they wrote.

The statement includes a laundry list of what the group perceive as slights done by post-2016 Republicans against the Latino community, including attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act, "[enabling] actions by the president to unconstitutionally subvert the Census," and "[staying] silent when the president equated racial justice protestors with those who view Latinos as an inferior race."

The groups accused Republicans of empowering Trump to mistreat Latinos and their communities in a multitude of ways, from pardoning former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, to terminating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and specific protections under the Temporary Protected Status program, as well as making legal immigration more difficult through the "public charge" rule.

The groups also focused on the president's treatment of Puerto Rico — a majority-Hispanic U.S. territory — and how that reflects on the Hispanic community at large.

"Toxic immigration rhetoric is used as a thinly veiled proxy to stir up antagonism against Latinos, eight out of 10 of whom are United States citizens. The same brush is used to paint our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico as permanent outsiders, subject to American laws but never full members of the body politic. And that is why, while Hispanics share many of the same concerns as other Americans, their history and lived experiences make the treatment of Puerto Ricans — and of recent immigrants — deeply personal," they wrote.

"Such treatment has become a prism through which Latinos gauge political leaders’ sentiment toward our community," they added.