There has been a lot of talk recently after the election about how the Republican party needs to become more compassionate and open up to the concerns of other ethnic groups and in particular, Hispanics. Unfortunately, most of the talk centers on the issue of immigration as if that is the only thing Hispanics are concerned about and the discussion quickly degenerates into rancorous debate amongst conservatives that are adamantly opposed to any type if immigration reform and those that believe that some sort of immigration reform is absolutely required to bring the Hispanic voting bloc into the GOP fold. The sad part of all of this is that we Hispanics see two sides arguing about how best to get us into the GOP and all we hear above the rancor is that we or our “kin” that might be here illegally are unwelcome here and are responsible for the dire economic and unemployment conditions we are experiencing—and, no one really asking us what we want!
As a conservative Hispanic and native born citizen of this country whose family has been here since 1693, I believe that conservatives and the GOP are asking the wrong questions and offering the wrong solutions. Most Hispanics in this country, regardless of the country of origin are here legally either as natural born citizens or as legal immigrants and our concerns are exactly the same as everyone else’s—jobs, family, security, freedom, and the economy. Regardless of our cultural and ethnic heritage and our “kindred connection” to those Hispanos from the lands of our ancestors, we consider ourselves Americans first and contrary to popular belief, immigration reform is not our primary concern or priority! Yet, to hear conservatives talk, they would lump us all together categorically as either being illegal and causing the problem or at least being sympathetic to the illegal immigrants and being part of the problem and—right or wrong–that is what we are hearing from the right.
What should the GOP be asking us and what do we want? I can’t answer for every Hispanic in this country, but I can say that I speak for many when I say that the first thing the right needs to do is tone down the rhetoric. I am a staunch conservative and American, but it still stings to hear callous derogatory and racist remarks against Mexicans or Hispanics in general as if we are some monolithic group bent on turning America into some third world Latin country. Those of us that are here legally or who were born here have the same concerns about our jobs and economic security as anyone else and we understand that illegal immigration affects us adversely as well. We also understand that we must be a nation with better border security and with a sensible and legal pathway for immigrants to come to our great country.
So, instead of focusing on immigration reform and framing the debate around that issue, if the right really wants to include us in the fold, quit talking about immigration and using it as a pandering tool to gain favor with us and instead, focus on the values and principles of which conservatives and the GOP stand for—freedom, honor, family values, duty, and above all, the opportunity for success regardless of the color of your skin! We don’t want special rights, gifts, platitudes, or considerations. We only want what you all want and that is what the GOP and the right should be singing and promising. Anything else is what we have been getting from the left for generations and we see that it has not worked and is not working for us as a people—yet, it is hard to feel welcome into a fold that thinks that all we want is immigration reform for all of our cousins or that all we want is welfare, food stamps, and other entitlements. Whether here legally or illegally, we are a proud people and like most everyone else in this country, we want to succeed on our own merits and hard work and not depend on a government or political party for our security.
John R. Vigil, MD