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How Republicans in a ‘swing’ state view Latinos—A personal perspective


Let me start with a little background:  I live in Kenosha, a city in Wisconsin, which everyone in the media and politics identified as one of the ‘battleground’ or ‘swing’ states in the 2012 Presidential election.  I am also a Caucasian, socially-liberal, fiscally-conservative Republican male who is involved in my local Hispanic community as the widower of a first generation Mexican-American woman and my active membership in the local Council of the League of Latin American Citizens(LULAC).

I am very involved in many issues locally, especially those dealing with immigration and disparities in education and educational opportunities.  Both of these issues are in the forefront of policy discussions in the Republican Party, locally and nationally.  You would think that someone like myself and other Hispanics who are open to the Republican messages on these issues would be courted and welcomed at the local and state party level.

I am here to tell you this:  WE ARE NOT!

Despite the rise to prominence of Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, as well as a handful of Representatives and several Governors, the attitude of Republicans in my home state remains, at best,  paternalistic and, at worst, dismissive.   Despite the calls from National Chairman, Reince Priebus, a fellow Kenoshan, and despite calls from internal factions such as Resurgent Republic and the Hispanic Leadership Network, the Republican Party of Wisconsin, and my fellow Republicans of the 1st Congressional District and Kenosha County(currently represented by our latest Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan)  turn a deaf ear to the potential strength of being a political party welcoming to Latinos and being a political party which is willing to address the concerns of Latinos.

In their December 2012 report entitled “The Hispanic Challenge and Opportunity for Republicans” Resurgent Republic and the Hispanic Leadership Network stated, ‘Years of harsh rhetoric and punitive policies will not be undone overnight. Fixing a broken immigration system is necessary but not sufficient to make Republicans competitive in the Hispanic community.  But resolving those problems is imperative if Republicans hope to remain a competitive force in national politics. Numbers do not lie, and growing Hispanic influence in American life will only continue to grow…New candidates, new policies, and a new tone are all imperative.’

My experience here in Kenosha and in my contacts with the members of the Republican Party of the 1st Congressional District and Wisconsin have been dismissive of Latinos and Latino issues.  They are not willing to engage in discussion of how to address the uncounted numbers of undocumented Latinos here in the United States beyond simply saying, “They are here illegally, and they should go home!”  Many local Republicans have even expressed their frustrations that the children of these undocumented Latinos have to be provided a public education at taxpayer expense.

This does not bode well for the Party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower—Republicans all who were champions of minority rights—in Wisconsin.  That to me is sad and disappointing because Republicans and Latinos do share many values which would make for a great partnership which would benefit America for the 21st Century and beyond.


By Being Latino Contributor, Jeffery Cassity.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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