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Juan Escalante: Lopez-Cantera Should Denounce the Anti-Immigrant Agenda in Florida

The author questions Mr. Lopez-Cantera's position on Latinos and the Republican party
19 Feb 2016 – 03:29 PM EST

By Juan Escalante, Director of Digital Campaigns for America's Voice

Florida’s Lieutenant Governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, is upset with several prominent Hispanic celebrities.

In an open letter to the Hispanic community, Lopez-Cantera, who is running to replace Marco Rubio in the United States Senate, complains that “liberal elites and Democratic Party elders” are trying to court the Hispanic community into a “monolithic agenda.”

Lopez-Cantera’s letter is a response to a separate letter that was penned and signed by dozens of Latino celebrities, who called out Republican presidential candidates for having “turned their backs” on the Hispanic community and instead “embraced the party of Trump.”

In categorizing the language chosen by Latino celebrities as “offensive,” Lopez-Cantera is choosing to ignore his party’s long history within the Hispanic community. Here is how “conservative policies” have worked for “his community.”

Back in 2011, it was Florida Republicans who tried to enact a bill similar to Arizona’s controversial SB 1070. And it is the Republican Party who is trying to attack our communities with new anti-immigrant legislation during this year’s legislative session.

At the national level, there is barely any difference. Florida’s current senator, Marco Rubio, has turned his back on the Latino community entirely — and outright lied about his support for comprehensive immigration reform. Meanwhile, the Hispanic community has continuously been exposed to a Republican field that has done nothing but “but talk down to, demean, and show intolerance to any individual” that chooses to challenge their extremist immigration agenda.

This is, of course, separate from the Republican-led lawsuit that is currently delaying the implementation of President Obama’s immigration relief program known as DAPA. A lawsuit that Florida has signed on to, and on which Carlos Lopez-Cantera has not given a concrete position.

Immigration is an important issue to Hispanics in Florida. In 2012, it was one of the most important voting issues for Hispanics, who opted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. 49% of Florida Hispanics know or are related to someone who is undocumented. For them, as for me, it’s personal.

How will “conservative policies” work for a Hispanic community that will be separated by Donald Trump’s deportation force? How will immigrants like myself fare when Ted Cruz terminates DACA and moves to deport me?

As an immigrant who was brought to the United States in search of better opportunities, I have only been presented with obstacles in order to achieve my dreams. Some may say that this is due to my undocumented status, others might blame my parents for “breaking the law,” but the truth lies in the types of policies presented by Democrats and Republicans.

When looked and examined closely, the difference is clear as day.

Our country and state are deserving of a leader who is willing to find consensus across the aisle, and not post talking points that do nothing to fix an issue that is vital to the livelihood of millions of immigrant families.

Are immigrants and refugees being “monolithic” when working day and night to put food on the table, send their kids to better schools, and contribute to their communities? Their “monolithic” concern about immigration policies is what prevents them from living a life of dignity, and instead forces them to live each day in fear of deportation.

You are right to say that my home country of Venezuela would not tolerate this type of challenge to an elected official. But that is where I am to be deported if we don't stop with the divisive rhetoric that prevents Congress from fixing our broken immigration system.

As the highest-ranking Hispanic Republican, the immigrant community commends you for helping usher in-state tuition for undocumented students — a measure that was long overdue and fought over throughout a decade. But as another Hispanic Republican who seeks to represent Florida at the national level, we ask you: what will you do to ensure our families are not torn apart by the aggressive deportation policies your party is currently proposing?

Disclaimer: We selected this Op-Ed to be published in our opinion section as a contribution to public debate. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of its author(s) and/or the organization(s) they represent and do not reflect the views or the editorial line of Univision Noticias.


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