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The GOP’s Historic Opportunity to Win the Latino Vote

El Partido Republicano tiene una oportunidad histórica para arrebatar el apoyo latino a los demócratas

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Throughout the last decades several narratives have been installed in American politics that suggest that the Democrats are the pro-immigration party, while the Republicans are the xenophobic side that hates immigrants; certainly in both parties there has been a great hypocrisy in terms of their true positions.

Democrats claim to be open to immigration, but their last administrations have been the ones that have expelled the most immigrants from the country, while on the other hand, the Republican discourse is tougher against illegal immigration, but their numbers in terms of deportations have also been lower in recent history.

Barack Obama, for example, has been called the “deporter in chief”, since he is the president who has expelled the most immigrants in the last decades; in his eight years in office Obama expelled almost three million immigrants, while his predecessor, the Republican George W. Bush, deported two million.

Similarly, if one compares Trump’s first year in the White House, the difference with the deporter-in-chief is abysmal; during the Republican’s first year, 177,000 fewer immigrants were deported than during the Democrat’s first year. Even so, the notion that the Republicans are the “xenophobic” party, and the Democrats the migrant-friendly party, has been installed in public opinion; the reason for this has much to do with the discourse.

The Democratic discourse

Historically, leftist parties tend to be populist and take advantage of the needs and fears of the people to present themselves as the saviors before the electorate, this is not only done in immigration issues, it is also very recurrent in economic issues, security, among others; the important thing for them is always to promise that they will take care of everything, that the most needy will be covered under their government, while their policies actually end up hurting more the populations they claim to protect; The most recent example is the arrival of Biden to power, who promised to open the borders to migrants during the election campaign —a speech focused on capturing the Latino vote—, it only took a couple of months after taking office for his government to declare that migrants would not be welcome in the country, which in turn has led to a wave of inhumane treatment due to overcrowding in detention centers.

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President Joe Biden (Image: EFE)

The Republican discourse

Donald Trump has not exactly been characterized for being a good speaker, certainly the management of his Twitter account was a problem during his four years in power. All the his deeds were quickly ruined by some strange comment, then, little it mattered if the economy was booming, if Americans had better jobs and wages, and, speaking specifically on the immigration issue, if his numbers were much friendlier than Obama’s, two words of his were enough to establish the idea that Trump was a xenophobe and racist, and his political opponents a set of winged beings fallen from the sky.

Trump and a bulk of the Republican camp have always been transparent, no nation can stand with weak borders, immigration controls are necessary, but their way of expressing themselves was not always the most correct.

Obama could be expelling thousands of immigrants daily, starting wars in the Middle East, embracing tyrants like Raul Castro, but his clean, measured, intelligent and lofty discourse drowned out almost any criticism that could be made of him; while Trump, no matter that he lowered the rate of deportations, sealed multiple peace treaties, started no wars, and gave a huge boost to the economy, always provided the media with a moment, a phrase or expression that made him look like the “volatile racist pig” that the press sold for years and who would undoubtedly start World War III.

Former President Donald Trump. (Image: Flickr)

The importance of the Latino community

It is true that since the United States is a bipartisan political nation, it is extremely important that the parties speak to their base, and in that sense, one of the historical pillars of the GOP has been strong borders. However, it is possible to have strong borders, strong immigration control, and at the same time support legal immigration to welcome with open arms the best talent in the world in various fields and people who are escaping from totalitarian regimes throughout the Americas and who want to come to the United States to work hard, produce, and not depend on the State, as promised by the Democratic Party.

There are currently 62 million Latinos in the United States, representing 18.7% of the population, who in turn have the power to tip the balance on one side or the other in several of the most important states in the country: California, Texas, Florida, among others. While each community has its particularities -Mexican migration tends to be more liberal, while Cubans and Venezuelans are much more conservative considering the oppression they have suffered from the socialist governments in their countries-; here the GOP should redesign its strategy to start talking to the largest minority in the country -Latinos-, and get them on their side.

While historically the Latino vote has favored the Democrats, and Trump only received 28% of the votes from this community in 2016, in the last elections his support grew to 32%, and the support in specific places, such as the city of Miami, allowed him to raise his vote and take the state of Florida, which is fundamental in any presidential election.

Former President Barack Obama with tyrant Raúl Castro (Archive)

Why would Latinos turn to the Republican Party?

One of the main reasons why Latinos have historically turned to the Democratic Party has been because of the discourse outlined by the politicians on each side; as we have been explaining, liberals have been more receptive to immigration issues, although in practice this is completely different. In addition to this, domestically the blue party’s policies of wealth redistribution and subsidies can captivate a part of the Latino population, specifically those who arrive with more needs and little education; however, in recent years the progressive radicalization in the Democratic Party is providing the GOP with the perfect opportunity to steal Latino support.

Currently Venezuelans and Cubans have been destroyed in their respective countries by the socialist governments in their nations, and this is beginning to be the reality for Mexicans as well under Lopez Obrador; But beyond this, culture and religion could play a fundamental role in the reconversion of the Latino community as a stronghold for the conservative party, as the designation of “latinx”, the indoctrination in classrooms directed against children, the defense of abortion, the innumerable “genders” pushed by the progressive agenda, and the break with Catholic values, could be the catalyst to change such history and for the GOP to become the party of immigrants.

Latinos for Trump. (Image: EFE)

Changing the discourse without changing the principles

Avoiding migration is an impossible task in a country with borders as long as the United States and which also has a long history of receiving migrants that has led to the settlement of diverse communities throughout the nation; a good part of the world’s population has a family member or acquaintance living in the land of opportunity, and certainly, Latinos, with countries torn apart by authoritarian and socialist governments are not going to stop coming to the United States.

Protesters hold signs reading “Say no to 1: CRT (Critical Race Theory) 2: Hate” and “Latinos against Critical Race Theory” during a demonstration in front of the Los Alamitos Unified School District building against the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Los Alamitos, California (Image: EFE).

The Republicans instead of looking at this as a problem, should start looking at it as a great opportunity, certainly the Latino community is much more aligned with the values that conservatives defend, and if they can capitalize on Hispanic support they could hold the states of Florida and Texas, and begin to do battle in California, New York, Illinois and other progressive paradises that today see how their tax rates continue to skyrocket due to the redistribution policies of the Democrats and also observe how crime takes over the streets of their cities.

Latinos are generally family-oriented, religious, hard-working, and independent. A Stanford University study determined that in the last ten years the number of Latinos who set up their own businesses grew by 34%, compared to 1% growth in the rest of the country. In addition, according to 2017 economic data, the Latino community generates for the United States 2.3 trillion dollars, this means that if the Hispanic population were an independent country it would be the eighth largest economy in the world.

This data not only dismantles the myth that a large part of the Latino immigrant population comes to the United States to commit crimes, but also demonstrates that this community does not come to the country expecting to live off the State and the handouts from politicians.

Being Latinos the most entrepreneurial community in the entire country, the last thing they want is to find the bureaucrats of the Democratic Party raising their tax burden and putting more and more regulations hindering their businesses; in that sense, the affinity of Latinos with the Republicans is not only in the cultural and religious sphere, but also in the economic one, which in turn leads us to draw a conclusion: the only reason for the historical divorce between the Latino community and the Republicans is because of the silly speech of certain conservative representatives, in addition to the constant manipulation of the progressive media for the Latino community -Univision and Telemundo-, beyond that, the Latino has all the conditions to be a GOP voter.

Certainly the Republicans have been much more verb than action against immigrants, therefore, to change this story does not require many changes in the immigration policies of the Republican Party, the only thing they should do is to be more assertive with the discourse towards the largest minority community in the country, strengthen and explain that the battle is against illegal immigration, and not against immigration, and show Latinos that in order for them to continue enjoying a country that offers them individual, political, religious and economic freedoms, and for their children to have a better future, the best thing to do is to vote for the party that seeks to defend the foundational bases of the United States of America, and not to transform the nation of freedoms into the new socialist paradise of the world.

Emmanuel Rincón is a lawyer, writer, novelist and essayist. He has won several international literary awards. He is Editor-at-large at El American // Emmanuel Rincón es abogado, escritor, novelista y ensayista. Ganador de diversos premios literarios internacionales. Es editor-at-large en El American