Corey Dade, NPR, July 12, 2011
Just as the Tea Party drew heavily on a public backlash against government spending, another new political movement–the Tequila Party–aims to use the latest crackdown on illegal immigration to motivate Latinos to vote in 2012.
Arizona Republican DeeDee Garcia Blase formed the National Tequila Party Movement as an answer to a Tea Party influence she blames for increased political opposition to immigration.
The group has no aspirations to become a third political party. Its focus will be registering as many of the nation’s 21 million voting-age Latinos as it can, targeting young voters in presidential battleground states.
Most of Blase’s ire is reserved for Tea Party groups, which she believes have pushed state and congressional Republicans to adopt tougher positions against illegal immigration.
“We have no choice but to empower ourselves and work on a massive national movement to counter the message of the Tea Party. We believe the Tea Party is an anti-immigration movement,” Blase says.
Leaders of the largest national Tea Party groups have insisted their official platform is focused on cutting the federal budget and shrinking government.
Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, one of the largest national groups of its kind, said immigration “isn’t an issue for us.” He acknowledged that the organization’s roughly 3,500 chapters take up a wider range of issues affecting their communities. He said he didn’t know of any local affiliates that advocate on immigration policy.
The Tequila Party hopes the latest immigration struggles will prove to be a unifying force. Its strategy is to target young voters in 10 presidential battleground states, including Florida, Illinois and California.