A plague of hatred and division is spreading across this great nation of ours, fueled by anti-immigrant legislation. Ground zero in the current hysteria is Arizona, which passed the infamous ‘papers please’ law, SB 1070, in April 2010.
A judge found the legislation unconstitutional and enjoined enforcement, yet copycat bills are emerging across the country. Versions of SB 1070 are now expected inmore than 30 state legislatures.
On the state level, Arizona is about to consider a law barring birth certificates to babies born of undocumented immigrants, and federally, Congressman Steve King (R-Iowa) has introduced a bill in Congress to reinterpret the 14th Amendment, which protects birthright citizenship. All of these bills are blatantly unconstitutional, but they are introduced anyway, solving nothing, and fueling hatred and bigotry.
Somos Republicans was founded in Arizona at ground zero of this anti-immigration plague, and operates at the grassroots level, and not as a doormat of the Republican Party. Our values and positions align well with the Republican Party, but we strongly oppose the anti-immigrant positions and rhetoric of some Republicans, who, unfortunately, are most often quoted in the media.
We have called out a number of extremists, pushing back against members of our own party who pander to anti-immigrant xenophobia. Our controversial Hispanic friendly/unfriendly list in 2010 helped people identify which politicians are unfriendly on Latino and immigrant issues. We believe anti-immigrant extremists are not representative of the party of Lincoln, nor of Hispanic Republicans, and we intend to hold politicians with anti-immigrant views accountable.
Somos Republicans called out Steve King for his extremism and offensive rhetoric in a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), asking that King not be appointed Chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee. King was passed over, though he is the ranking Republican.
We called out Congressman Allen West (R-Fla.) for appointing a chief of staff who has called for the hanging of undocumented immigrants, and West fired the newly hired chief of staff. Somos Republicans and others called out Tennessee State Senator Curry Todd, a Republican, for comparing immigrants to rats, and he apologized.
We called out Fox News and Nebraska State Senator Charlie Janssen for publicly using the offensive term “anchor baby.” Fox News pulled their news story. Janssen refuses to apologize, but he backed down from introducing birthright citizenship bill he had long promised.
Sadly, this plague has spread to Long Island too. One of the most prominent examples is Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy, a Republican with a track record of supporting policies that target Latinos and Latino immigrants on eastern Long Island. The same politician who called the Marcelo Lucero killing a “one-day story” now stands accused of ignoring and covering up Suffolk hate crimes.
While our group serves as a watchdog for anti-immigrant sentiment in the Republican Party, we also support legislation that will help safeguard Latino and immigrant rights.
We backed the Utah Compact, a powerful set of principles to guide the immigration debate in Utah. Due to the vacuum of leadership from Washington, extremists have gained the initiative of this issue, and the Utah Compact seeks to restore civility and moderation to the immigration debate, saying that “Utah should always be a place that welcomes people of good will.” A broad coalition of community, business, religious, and political leaders from across the spectrum quickly embraced the Utah Compact, forming a powerful united front in opposition to expected extreme anti-immigrant legislation.
Recognizing the success of the Utah Compact, we announced a national program called the Compact With America, to develop state compacts across the nation, starting with Nebraska, Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Arizona, with more states to come. So far, the Nebraska Compact has been introduced as a resolution into the Nebraska legislature by a powerful bipartisan group of state senators who do not want Nebraska to suffer Arizona style laws and the hatred that often follows. Lawmakers in two other states are about to introduce similar resolutions in their legislatures. We are particularly proud of the bipartisanship exemplified in Nebraska. If we had this sort of bipartisanship in Washington, our immigration system would already be reformed.
Our message is resonating powerfully among conservative and moderate Hispanics and immigrants in general, and Republican leaders are taking note. Somos Republicans offers conservative and moderate Hispanics an alternative to joining the Democrat Party over one issue. In 18 months, Somos Republicans grew from one member in one state, to a nationwide organization with over 6,000 members.
We welcome anyone who shares our values and positions, and our membership is not limited to Hispanics or even Republicans. I’m not Hispanic myself, though my wife is a legal immigrant from Honduras. It was navigating the archaic legal immigration system combined with my Republican activism that led me to join Somos Republicans.
We have many independents and a few Democrats within our ranks. We have members in New York, though no state chapter yet (Any volunteers for NY director?). We have a chapter in Pennsylvania, and are looking to expand to every state. If you are interested in joining or coalition building with us, please get in touch with us.
We are up against a powerful lobby and we all need to work together as one to defeat this hateful plague sweeping much of America.
Midwest and Northeast Regional Outreach Director