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Rubio and Cruz vote against Latinas

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Given that today the day on which millions of Americans will celebrate their romantic bliss (or at least pretend to), I thought this story appropriate:

“Hispanic Republican Senators Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz were among other Senators who voted against the Violence Against Women Act — not because they oppose empowering domestic violence victims but because it takes away state rights.

The bill passed by overwhelming majority in the Senate with a 78-22 vote reauthorizing the two-decade-old act that immigrant and women’s rights groups have hailed for shielding millions of women from abuse and helping reduce national rates of domestic violence. …

The law, commonly known as VAWA, has new provisions giving gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women equal access to the act’s anti-domestic violence programs. …

The law, commonly known as VAWA, has new provisions giving gays and lesbians, immigrants and Native American women equal access to the act’s anti-domestic violence programs.”

Both Rubio and Cruz feel that criminal prosecutions should be left up to the states, but the states are exactly where the problem lies.

One provision of VAWA allows for tribal courts to prosecute non-Native Americans charged with assaulting Native American women on reservations. (Sidenote: Fox News still calls them “Indians.”) Fiercely contested by Republicans, the provision was added to combat the fact that Native American women are assaulted at twice the national rate while only half of such cases are ever prosecuted.

Another controversial provision allows undocumented women abused by their citizen or permanent resident husbands the opportunity to apply for a visa. Law enforcement agencies across the country largely support the measure as it encourages the kinds of women who normally keep silent to report abuse.

According to the National Institute of Justice, many undocumented women are afraid of reporting crimes to the police — and undocumented men and women are fearful of dealing with the police in general — for fear of being deported.

And while Latinas are less likely to report domestic violence, their more likely than non-Latino women to be the victims of such abuse.

That Senators Rubio and Cruz would vote against a piece of legislation providing protections for women, especially minority women — and voting with the likes of John Cornyn, Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Jeff Sessions, John Thune and Mitch McConnell, no less — is unconscionable. I know they’re U.S. senators and not just Latino senators, but even still, are we not the products of our respective histories?

Plus, it’s the Republican Party making a whole lot of noise over the fact that it has two Latino senators in its ranks. So if Rubio and Cruz intend to be the new Latino face of the GOP, and the conservatives intend to win over Latinos and women before the Cubs win the World Series, they should probably — oh, I don’t know — pass laws that benefit Latinos and women.

Latinos and women aren’t waiting for the Republicans to pass immigration reform so they can vote for the party. They’re waiting for the Republicans to start treating Latinos and women with at least a shred of dignity. Rubio and Cruz arguing that states’ rights supersede the rights of minority women might be, dare I say, sending the wrong message.

Still, don’t take my word for it. I’m no savior.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

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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