Mary Jordan, Washington Post, December 15, 2015
Liberal Hispanic groups have launched a new campaign designed to turn Latino voters against the two Cuban American Republicans who have risen to the top tier of the GOP presidential field–assailing Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz as traitors to their own culture.
Radio and online ads, social media posts and public discussions with Hispanic leaders in swing states are accusing Cruz and Rubio, senators from Texas and Florida, respectively, of fighting against immigration reforms, a minimum wage increase and other changes that millions of Latinos support. Many of the ads equate the two candidates to GOP front-runner Donald Trump, whose sharp rhetoric on immigration has until now drawn most of the attention of Hispanic activists.
“It’s not comfortable for us to do this, to call out members of our own community who don’t reflect our community values, but we have no choice,” said Cristóbal Alex, president of the Democratic-backed Latino Victory Project.
At a Monday gathering in Nevada of Democratic Hispanic leaders, ahead of tonight’s GOP debate in Las Vegas, photos of Cruz and Rubio were plastered alongside Trump’s picture, as all three were criticized as anti-Latino. A press release noted, “While Trump continues to grab headlines with his hateful anti-Latino, anti-immigrant language, the positions and records of the two Latino presidential candidates in the race are equally dangerous for Nevada communities.”
Dolores Huerta, an influential labor leader and civil rights activist, called Cruz and Rubio “sellouts” and “traitors” at the gathering and said the Hispanic candidates “are turning their backs on the Latino community.”
Also Monday, some conservative Hispanics began criticizing Cruz, who has pushed for new limits on immigration–including the repeal of the 14th Amendment guarantee that anyone born in the United States is granted citizenship. The Texas senator has risen to the top of some recent surveys in the crucial early voting state of Iowa, where caucus-goers tend to be conservative and strongly oppose illegal immigration.
The criticism followed a meeting with Cruz in which participants came away feeling that he shared the view expressed by Romney in 2012 that illegal immigrants should “self-deport.”
“Very troubling,” said Alfonso Aguilar, head of the American Principles Project’s Latino Partnership, who attended the meeting. “He’s saying that he doesn’t even support any type of legalization later on.” Aguilar described Cruz’s stance as “either self-deport or they will be forcefully removed.”
Rubio has disavowed many aspects of a bipartisan immigration bill he helped author. Cruz, meanwhile, has accused Rubio of supporting “amnesty.”
The senators’ moves to the right have created an opening for the left-leaning Hispanic groups.
A new digital ad with subtitles in Spanish criticizes Cruz and Rubio for talking tough against immigration reform and picture both Republican senators alongside Trump. The ad, paid for by the Latino Victory Fund and the Democratic opposition research group American Bridge 21st Century, shows Cruz forcefully saying, “We should end birthright citizenship,” and Rubio saying, “Yes, people will have to be deported.”