Why Latinos should support impeachment inquiry

Why Latinos should support impeachment inquiry
© Aaron Schwartz

With an impeachment inquiry underway in the House of Representatives, each day seems to bring breaking news regarding the president’s dealings with Ukraine. On Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMichael (Mike) Richard PompeoPompeo: 'No mistake' Trump warned Russian diplomat about election tampering Trump admin hits Iranian shipping network, airline with new sanctions The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - An unusual day: Impeachment plus a trade deal MORE admitted that he was on the July 25th call between President Donald Trump and the president of Ukraine. On Thursday, the former special envoy to Ukraine arrived on Capitol Hill to give closed-door testimony to three House committees. By Friday, House Democrats were vowing to issue subpoenas to the White House for documents related to the inquiry.

Like other Americans, Latinos have followed these events with a mix of shock, disgust, and disbelief. But Hispanics have a unique stake in the impeachment inquiry. The president has put our civil rights, and at times our lives, at risk with his reckless rhetoric and behavior. His administration has disproportionately policed our communities. Russian interference in U.S. elections has directly impacted Latinos — so President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats worried by Jeremy Corbyn's UK rise amid anti-Semitism Warren, Buttigieg duke it out in sprint to 2020 MORE must be held accountable for his actions.

Latinos should support the impeachment inquiry because the president who has wielded the law like a cudgel against our communities should not be above it himself. Trump has shown no qualms in bringing the full force of the U.S. government to bear down upon child migrants, asylum seekers, DREAMers, and other vulnerable immigrants. He has terrorized Latino communities with the threat of mass ICE raids. His administration attempted to subvert the 2020 Census with the addition of a citizenship question. Such improper acts, even when blocked by the courts, were fine by Trump. It is only when he faces scrutiny that he cries foul and discovers the concept of fairness. How ironic that the most powerful individual in the world now sees himself as a beleaguered victim of historic proportions.

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Trump’s immigration policy is predicated on deporting “illegals” because of their purported criminality and threat to national security. Such assumptions are contradicted by research, but consider the mounting evidence that Trump tried to coerce the Ukrainian president into investigating Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - House panel expected to approve impeachment articles Thursday Democrats seek leverage for trial Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE … or that he seems more interested in promoting good relations with Russia, who his own intelligence officials say meddled in the 2016 elections, than with Mexico, our neighbor and top trading partner. This president would appear to be more of a threat to national security than any undocumented immigrant could ever be.

The question of foreign influence in American elections is central to the impeachment inquiry. It is likewise critically important to Latinos, because in 2016 Russia’s Internet Research Agency aggressively targeted African Americans and Latinos in their attempts to sow discord within the U.S. electorate. Last year, a report released by the Senate found that Russia’s efforts were aimed at getting Hispanics not to trust the government, and to spread cynicism about the 2016 election, thereby depressing voter turnout. After Trump was elected, Russian operatives continued to use social media platforms to stoke tensions around Hispanics and immigration, with the goal of destabilizing our democracy.

It’s no wonder that solid majorities of Latinos are concerned about the president’s potential betrayal of the country. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, 62 percent of Latino voters think Trump should be impeached and removed from office. About two-thirds of Latinos (67 percent) say that the president believes he is above the law, and that he abuses his power (65 percent). Democratic presidential candidate Julian CastroJulian CastroTop Sanders official on Harris: There's a lot of 'unfairness baked into the system' Democrats voice frustrations at plight of black, Hispanic presidential candidates Krystal Ball: What Harris's exit means for the other 2020 candidates MORE, leading Hispanic lawmakers, and advocacy groups like the Hispanic FederationUnidosUS, and Voto Latino have come out in support of the impeachment inquiry.

Latino support for impeachment is not a partisan affair, nor reflective of antipathy towards the president. Impeachment is a serious matter, with sacred principles at stake. Latinos support the House inquiry because we believe in this country and its institutions.

True, not all Latinos support impeachment. On NPR, Alfonso Aguilar of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles said that, while it was “inappropriate” for Trump to suggest that Ukraine look into the Bidens, there was not a “clear-cut smoking gun showing clearly that he (Trump) violated the law.” Then Aguilar pivoted to what he termed Joe Biden’s “totally inappropriate” behavior. Yet the transcript of Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president, released by the White House, is the smoking gun. It reveals that Trump put his own political goals ahead of America’s interest in a strong Ukraine. And no amount of discredited talking points about Biden can change one simple fact: federal law states that it is illegal for any person to solicit or receive anything of value in connection with a U.S. election.

President Trump’s conduct regarding Ukraine represents an existential threat to American values, our Constitution, and the integrity of our elections. Regardless of political affiliation, Latinos must support the impeachment inquiry.

Raul A. Reyes is an immigration attorney and member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.  A graduate of Harvard University and Columbia Law School, he is also a contributor to NBCNews.com and CNN Opinion. You can follow him on Twitter at @RaulAReyes, Instagram: raulareyes1.