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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 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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