Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

GOP Hispanic Outreach Hits Tea Party Fury

House Republican leadership’s outreach to the Hispanic community ran smack into a tea party wall on Wednesday.

Outside the Capitol, a tea-party-fueled rally on immigration put the spotlight on the dilemma facing Speaker John A. Boehner. The Ohio Republican met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Wednesday and hopes to cure his party’s huge demographic challenge with Hispanics by passing an immigration overhaul this year. But the tea party energy on display outside the Capitol, which catapulted him into power in 2010, has turned on the speaker.

The contrast was on full display at an ill-timed news conference held by GOP Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington outside the Capitol in the House Triangle, competing with the larger, daylong anti-immigration-bill news conference and rally on the East Front.

McMorris Rodgers had gathered faith-based leaders of the Latino community on Capitol Hill to, she said, talk about “our shared goals for America” with a half-dozen of her colleagues as part of a larger outreach effort.

At one point, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., addressed Hispanic media outlets in Spanish — only to get heckled.

“If they all learned English …” someone shouted from the sidelines, then trailed off, as a woman arrived wielding a sign that read, “Do not reward criminals, no amnesty for illegal aliens!!!”

The speakers sought to brush it off.

“I want to make a call for unity,” said Becky Keenan, a pastor with the Gulf Meadows Church of Houston, Texas, “a call for a tone that is civil, where we can discuss issues, see where we can compromise.”

Across the East Front lawn, a woman was shouting wildly into a much louder microphone, almost drowning out Keenan. Protesters wore T-shirts emblazoned with American flags and tea party slogans, and they waved homemade signs that read, “John Boehner: no amnesty, get a backbone,” “Boehner: go home,” “exporting illegals = importing jobs for Americans, stop socialism,” and “if we lose rule of law we become Mexico.”

Earlier, a mention of Boehner’s name brought a chorus of boos.

The rally against the Senate’s immigration bill and any House bill that would provide a pathway to citizenship before securing the border — organized by Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa — rallied the base of tea party Republicans and libertarians already in town for a protest on the West Front against the IRS.

The two gatherings featured an overlap of speakers in terms of members of Congress, political activists and public figures such as radio hosts Glenn Beck and Laura Ingraham.

King – along with Republican Reps. Louie Gohmert of Texas, Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, Rob Bishop of Utah and Jack Kingston of Georgia, among others, took to the microphones to denounce anything smacking of “amnesty.”

Gohmert said Wednesday morning that some Republicans, such as those in leadership, are “pandering” to Latinos.

“Maybe we won’t get the Latino vote initially,” he said in an interview with a Latino news outlet, “but once they examine who really cares … which party … wants you to learn English and be the president of the company and [not] relegated to digging a ditch the rest of your life … that’s us.”

At the immigration rally, participants cheered on a reporter who identified himself as affiliated with the conservative outlet Breitbart News, but they booed and heckled a CNN Radio scribe who queried Heritage Foundation fellow Robert Rector about the Congressional Budget Office’s findings that the Senate’s immigration bill would yield big deficit reductions.

Rector blasted the CBO as “the wizard in ‘The Wizard of Oz’” for an incomplete, bells-and-whistles analysis, as members of the crowd called for the legislative branch agency to be abolished. Meanwhile, a group of young women stood in front of the Capitol dressed in the iconic ruby slippers and gingham dresses of Dorothy Gale, the famed protagonist of “The Wizard of Oz.”

Their presence was entirely coincidental: They said they worked at a “Wizard of Oz” museum in Liberal, Kan., and were on a trip to meet their representatives in Congress, for which they had raised money themselves.

Many members, meanwhile, defended themselves against charges that Republicans lack compassion.

“I believe in the dignity of every human person,” King told CQ Roll Call. “That is not just a judgment call, it is in the core of my being. And I believe in the rule of law.”

Meanwhile, after meeting with Boehner, Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, D-Ill., a leading advocate of an immigration overhaul, talked hopefully.

“I think today we made strong headway,” he said. “I can tell you that I left that meeting with the understanding that there needs to be a majority of Republicans and a majority of Democrats … to come together so the House of Representatives can work its will.”

At McMorris Rodgers’ news conference, however, it was difficult to imagine how the GOP will manage to avoid splintering over the issue. As her group wrapped up and dispersed, Keenan turned and faced a man who shouted, “Oh, I lack compassion, right? You shit on the Constitution all day long!”

“I think a lot of what they are saying is fear-based, really,” Keenan reflected to a reporter, “and there’s a lot of misinformation and ignorance and I understand that that fuels some of these opinions.”

“This image of the Latino coming in and taking away just is just inaccurate. It’s a bit unfair, too, really. … We’re not asking for a free ride. We want border security.”

  • Forbes400

    Emma, the Tea Party believes in the Constitution, private property and free enterprise. It doesn’t pander to any hyphenated group. Cubans are different from Bolivians, who are different from Venezuelans, who are different from Columbians, who are different from Mexicans. The Tea Party believes in liberty for all people based upon our nation’s founding principles.

    So read a book — I suggest Liberty and Tyranny for starters — and educate yourself about political philosophy before making a fool of yourself with op-eds disguised as news stories. It’s frankly embarrassing.

    • bmcchgo

      Forbes400, the image you described of the Constitution-loving, private property owning Tea Party are not the image that Americans see and disapprove of. You can talk about tyranny and liberty all day long, but the images and sounds coming from rallies like yesterday are of fearful, ignorant xenophobes – or what we call T’baggers.

      • shamu9

        I got yer Tea Bag, ya Obama-Bot Jackass! Frack all Illegals. I Lived in Texas, AND YOU– Don’t Know JacK Schitt!

        • bmcchgo

          Thanks for proving my point!

      • anazunigamaus

        You got it all wrong, I am a Hispanic legal immigrant and proud citizen now, I am also a proud member of the tea party, you talk about ignorant xenophobes in the tea party, that is exactly what I have seen in the pro illegal immigration rallies, hate and ignorant xenophobes against America and the Americans. The worse part is that all of you are so ignorant, that want to demand, because you really don’t know how to politely ask, for rights you do not have.and do it awhile waving Mexican flags and insulting pan-cards

        Yes, maybe some Americans are frustrated, because their voices are not heard and because the actions stated previously by be me, of the many of the illegals and their advocates, that can infuriate any one, including many of us, the real immigrants of America, the LEGAL IMMIGRANTS..

        • bmcchgo

          Not for minute do I think you are who you say you are. The only thing you’ve proven is that your spelling and grammar are atrocious.

          • anazunigamaus

            That is nothing new, I know my English is not perfect, but you did understand and that is enough for me. I also don’t have to prove to you who I am, and what you think of me, is irrelevant. I am who I am, I don’t like illegals and I don’t hide or get offended, because people like you, don’t like what I write, or criticize my grammar and spelling. I bring my points across and I will continue doing it, weather you like it or not.

        • rozlee

          Tell me another one. I’m Hispanic and I saw the tea party rally when Glenn Beck hosted it 30 miles south of us at the Alamo in San Antonio. San Antonio is a city that is 28% non-Hispanic White by demographic, but you didn’t see nary a dark face in that crowd. Republicans are now a party that is 90% non-Hispanic White. The tea party is 96% non-Hispanic White. There’s a reason for that. Republicans and teabaggers make all Latinos, legal and illegal, feel like second class citizens. If you’re really a Hispanic legal immigrant–I sincerely doubt you are, you sound too much like a teabagger plant–you’re nothing more than a front man to give them legitimacy to claim they’re not racists. Because their pathetic numbers don’t lie. They’re racist to the core. They’re using you and you’re too stupid to know it, baboso.

          • anazunigamaus

            I was born in Costa Rica, is that Spanish enough for you?
            I have seen many Hispanics in the tea party rallies, not all Hispanics have conflicts of inferiority, we see ourselves as Americans and nothing else.
            This fight is against illegals only. I know the pro illegal immigration advocates like to put the fear in the Hispanic community, by generalizing and calling it, a fight against immigrants, but it is not, we are immigrants, they are illegals and it is a big difference.

          • rozlee

            You’re slipping up. I’ve never heard of any Latino referring to our culture as a Spanish one. And the tea party rally in San Antonio, a city that is 62% Hispanic by demographic, was a sea of white that was blinding, so I know you’re yanking my chain. My husband is white and his sister, a teabagger, attended and proudly took a video from inside of the rally. Yep. Not a dark face to be seen. Just old white people. And your fight isn’t against illegals only. I’ve read some of your posts. You buy into the idea that Mexican-Americans are advancing a Reconquista movement, even though that’s only a fringe idea advanced by extremists professors. You drip with a positive hatred of Mexican-Americans, probably because of our tendency to vote Democrat. For good reason. Republicans have made it more than clear that they have no use for minorities. African-Americans voted for Obama by 96%; Native Americans by 92%; Asian-Americans by 73%; Hispanics by 71%; Jews by 69%; youth by 68%; and women by 56%. Republicans have no place for minorities in their ranks. That’s why so many minorities have turned their backs on them.

          • anazunigamaus

            I have known of the reconquista, since my school years 50 years ago, when new in the country, I was approached by a Mexican student with a flier of what I thought was an invitation to party, I was barely 18 them and it sounded very good to me, so I went and to my surprise, it was a meting for Mecha and I did not like what I heard that day, so I left. I knew since them of the hitter purpose of some Mexican Americans and I will tell some of my friends, but they will not believe me. It was not, until the big illegal marches of Los Angeles, when empower by the numbers of marchers, they let the cat out of the bag, and the media and the Americans were surprise. So see, they make it public and now they can not go back on it, it is what it is.
            I am not a Republican, I am an Independent and I can assure you that many of those who voted for Obama, regret doing so. I know many that did not vote for Obama again,
            I have been in many Latin dances and have to listen to Mexican Americans putting down America and taking of the reconquista. One in particular, I got so tired of listenig to their nonsense, that I asked the most out spoken lady about the purchase of her house and how much she pay for it? Her response to me was, you know i have a house and that I bought it long ago and pay $25,000 for it Ana. Then I ask her how much was her house worth in today’s market. Her response to me was, you are a Realtor, you know it is worth about $350,000 now. To what I ask her, and how do you fell if the person that sold it to you for $25,000 come back today and ask you to return the house, because you took it from him and the house is now worth $350,000. Her response to me was, OH NO, I bought it fair and square, it is my now and I have done lots of improvements to it. To what I said yes it is yours and so is this territory an American territory. They bought dessert full of rocks and snakes and what you like today, is what it is under the American flag, that will not be the same ever under the Mexican flag, end of story.
            So see, I am not making anything up, it was there in the 60s and it is there now to many Mexicans up there.

          • rozlee

            I have no idea what in blue blazes your ramblings are all about. The early civil rights causes all had their radical fringes and you seem hellbent on attributing their beliefs to modern day Mexican-Americans. The first time I even saw the word “reconquista” was in a white supremacist handout someone gave my son. It’s like whites who tremble in fear of the few numbers in the New Black Panthers and think there’s a black uprising being planned. I’m a veteran of the three Gulf wars and Mexican-Americans make up over 18% of the military, so I doubt that we’re as unpatriotic as you say and trying to give back the country to Mexico. I’ve gone to several Latin dances myself and never heard anyone speaking once of any reconquista. When I ask Mexican-Americans about it, I’ve generally been met with blank stares. The word has become popular today in the white supremacist community and most Hispanics don’t know anything about it. You seem to think you’re an expert on “traitorous” Mexican-Americans, but I’ve lived in my community all my life and of all Latinos, we’ve served more in our country’s armed forces, per capita, than any other ethnic Hispanics. You go on and on about some woman that you talked to that told you some nonsense and now, you paint us all as unpatriotic. You’ve been hanging around teabaggers too long. Their racism has rubbed off on you.

          • anazunigamaus

            No, read my writing good, because I am not claiming that all Mexicans are for that. I have a lot of Mexican friends and they are not in favor of giving this territory back to Mexico, but I also know a lot that do and that is a fact.
            Now, thank you for your service, I am also married to a Veteran and I am very proud of his service to our country, but I don’t think of us as white and brown, as I also think we are all equal. I don’t care about the color of someone skin at all. 20 years ago with adopted a mix boy who have a lot of problems and was only 3lbs at birth, he is today over 6ft and in college. So see, you don’t know much about me. I don’t know you, why will I think you are unpatriotic? I don’t agree with your views of white and brown and what you think of the tea party, but that is you and I am me.
            I have a very good Mexican friend and her son is like a son to me, and he was always in my house. He join the Marines and was sent to Japan a week ago, I am very proud of him also and every time he is on leave, he spend time with us, he comes to this house like his own and he know I love him and he see me as his second mom, So see assuming that because I am against the illegals and those in favor of the reconquista, does not mean I don’t like Mexicans.

          • rozlee

            I don’t know one single Mexican-American that’s in favor of giving American lands back to Mexico. We know what side our bread is buttered on. I live in Texas and the last thing I want, and every other Mexican-American I know, is to have Texas revert back to a Mexican state. I’d lose my VA benefits, my husband and I would lose our military pensions and everyone would lose their Social Security, Medicare, US infrastructure, and the benefits that come with being US citizens. I hear a hell of a lot more conservatives talking about seceding their states from the US and forming their own countries than I’ve ever heard any Mexican-Americans talking about returning former Mexican lands to Mexico.

          • anazunigamaus

            Maybe I heard more, because I live in CA, the state that the extremist want to give back to Mexico all the time, because according to them it is already loss. I get myself in quite fight about that all the time. I know there are extremist in both parties and that is why, after 40 years as a Democrat, I am now an Independent. I don’t agree with neither party 100%, but I site with Republicans most of the time, because their values are closer to mine now.
            I agree with you, that giving any state back to Mexico will be like shutting ourselves in the foot, but there are some extremist that don’t stop to think like you do, and think all will continue to be the same if they do.

          • Charles Adame

            It’s impossible for you to have been approached by Mecha in 1963 as you assert, as it’s founding principles were not written until March/April of 1969—a whole six years AFTER you claim they were trying to recruit you. And an independent with a capital “I” is the party of George Wallace.

          • anazunigamaus

            Principles or no principles, the movement was on sinse them, because I went to that meeting them, back when I was a student. You can call it what ever you want or thing what you want, but I know what a heard and I know what they wanted, and that was around 1963.

          • anazunigamaus

            Another thing, Mecha is not a student group, like many of you like to call it, but a hate group against America and Americans. Their only purpose is to give the South West back to Mexico and that is a fact. You all let the cat out of the back, during the illegal marches in L.A. years ago and you can not go back now. We don’t need anyone associated with this group in America, if you all thing so well of Mexico, that want to turn this into part of that country, go back there to live, because you will never have this territory.

  • radsenior

    Boehner has had his knees cut out from under him by radical extremes and will cry one more time when he loses his title. Boehner is simply too weak to cut deals and pass bills. But now that he leads a radicalized caucus, Boehner has allowed himself to be pushed around to keep his Speakership. The party is dead set against immigration reform. They’ll only accept it if the border and citizenship requirements are tough as we have seen today.

    Absolutely no consideration is given to families who have been and will be impacted with stringent triggers to shut down the immigration reform. Steve King, Ted Cruz and others are being watched by those most interested in passage of the immigration bill. Steve King, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz are the closest watched by some groups and results will be used to push voters in those states for corrections. I have found intense interest on Hispanic/Latino sites along with quiet attention in specific states. Ethnic demographics has changed and will changed even more in future elections. Memories may be short but Internet videos are still around and search-able.

    Graham said on NBC’s Meet The Press. “We’re in a demographic death spiral as a party and the only way we can get back in good graces with the Hispanic community in my view is pass comprehensive immigration reform. If you don’t do that, it really doesn’t matter who we run in my view.” – Truer words were never spoken.

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