Columns

Rep. Castro: GOP Can 'Regain Confidence and Trust of Latinos' by Backing DREAM Act

WASHINGTON – Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Texas), the vice chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the Republican Party has a chance to regain the “confidence and trust” of Latinos by passing the DREAM Act with nothing else attached.

“For obvious reasons, the Latino community feels deeply alienated from the president of the United States – whether it was the pardoning of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, the constant proposal to build a border wall across America, the lack of response in Puerto Rico and so many other issues,” Castro said on a conference call briefing last week organized by America’s Voice about recent polling of Latinos conducted by Latino Decisions about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

According to the poll results, 29 percent of respondents said they were “much more” likely to vote for a Republican in the 2018 midterm election who supports the DREAM Act while 64 percent of respondents said they were “much more” likely to vote for a Democrat in the 2018 midterm election who supports the DREAM Act. Among the respondents, 57 percent said they were “much less” likely to support a Republican who opposes the DREAM Act and 45 percent said they were “much less” likely to support a Democrat who opposes the DREAM Act.

The survey specifically asked, “Would you say the Republican Party is currently doing a good job of reaching out to Latinos, that they don’t care too much about Latinos, or that they are being hostile towards Latinos?”

Among the respondents, 11 percent said Republicans are doing a good job, 35 percent said Republicans “don’t care too much,” 35 percent said Republicans are “being hostile” and 20 percent said they do not know.

The same question was asked about the Democratic Party, and 38 percent said Democrats are “doing a good job,” 30 percent said Democrats “don’t care too much,” 8 percent said Democrats are “being hostile” and 24 percent said they do not know.

Reacting to the polling data, Castro said the results show that Latinos feel that the Republican Party is “hostile” to the Latino community but that the GOP has an opportunity to “regain confidence and trust of Latinos” by supporting the DREAM Act.

“The idea of backlash against Republicans who do not support the DREAM Act is almost fictitious,” he said. “It is incredibly popular among the American people.”

Castro hypothetically asked how many Americans it takes to get Congress to act on an issue.

“That is why we are asking Democrats and Republicans to join us in supporting the DREAM Act and signing a discharge petition that would bring the DREAM Act to the floor for a vote, because if it is put up for a vote it will pass,” he said.

Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.), chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said she is “dedicated” to getting passed a “clean” DREAM Act to protect certain illegal immigrants brought to the country as children.

“This poll indicates that we’ve got a movement and that we ought to capitalize on that movement,” she said on the conference call. “Let’s pass a clean bill and get that done as quickly as possible. We’ve got communities living in fear and it’s an untenable situation for our constituents and for our country as a whole.”

Castro said the GOP-led Congress should pass a DREAM Act that offers a pathway to citizenship rather than only work permits.

“America basically feels as though that DREAMers are Americans, that for most of them they have never known another country as their home,” he said. “And so Americans feel it’s the right thing to do to put them on a path to citizenship, and I think that’s reflected in the poll.”