It’s that time of the year again — Hispanic Heritage Month.
The corporate ads flooding Twitter in celebration of Latinos aren’t really that big of a shocker, considering Latinos represent a massive $1.7 trillion in buying power annually. But what still remains shocking is the annual press release from the RNC.
Talk about tone-deaf. In between Steve King-led votes to deport DREAMers and their parents, Republicans suddenly remember Latinos in empty platitudes celebrating the “culture and traditions of America’s rapidly growing Hispanic community”:
“Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the history and culture of Americans of Hispanic descent. We are a stronger, more diverse, more vibrant country thanks to the influence and hard work of Hispanic Americans over generations—whether in the arts and sciences, business, government, education or the military.
The Republican Party is proud to recognize and honor those contributions, not just this month but all year long,” said Chairman Reince Priebus.
You gotta wonder if the party’s leading candidate for President, Donald Trump, agrees with the RNC’s praise about Latinos. All we can do is look at a bit of Trump’s Latino outreach over the past few months and deduce for ourselves:
- During his campaign announcement nearly three months ago, Trump says about immigrants from Mexico: “They are bringing drugs and they are bringing crime, and they’re rapists. Some, I assume are good people.” Republican primary voters react by skyrocketing him in the polls.
- Trump releases his immigration “plan,” a nativist wish-list of ugly proposals to round up and deport the nation’s 11 million undocumented immigrants, as well as strip the US-born children of these immigrants of their citizenship. The plan earns the praise of anti-immigrant leaders Steve King and Jeff Sessions.
- Trump kicks Mexico-born journalist Jorge Ramos out of his press conference, snarling “Go back to Univision!” as a bodyguard physically pushes the Univision anchor out of the room. Outside the venue, a Trump fan accosts Ramos with cries of, “Get out of my country!”
- Trump even manages to Trumpify the GOP’s “immigrant friendly” candidate, after Jeb Bush mimics his vitriol and uses the derogatory “anchor baby” slur on the campaign trail. Jeb’s reply to offended Latinos is to say that he can’t think of a better term to use.
And we haven’t even begun to mention the long string of disturbing physical and verbal attacks against Latinos and immigrants at the hands of Trump supporters, including one instance that landed a man in a hospital with horrific injuries.
Meanwhile, RNC Chairman Reince Priebus, the same man singing the praises of Latinos in his Hispanic Heritage Month announcement, responds by saying that Trump is a “net positive” for the Republican Party.
Chairman Priebus lives in La-La Land if he thinks a press release once a year will calm the anger and frustration Latino and immigrant voters have felt over the past few months due to racist rhetoric from Republican candidates like Trump.
In fact, new polling released this past week shows Trump’s outsized role in the GOP race and outspoken nativism is tarnishing the entire GOP brand — and Latinos know it. As a write-up of the polling on MSNBC.com notes, “Almost two-thirds of Latinos surveyed – 65% – say Trump is hurting the image of the Republican Party, while just 13% say he is helping the party. And 70% of Latinos say they see Trump as insulting and offensive.”
So much for Trump’s repeated claims that “the Hispanics love me.”
Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans refuse to take up comprehensive immigration reform — an issue Latino and immigrant voters name their priority — in favor of Steve King-sculpted demands for undocumented immigrant families to get the hell out of the country.
Reince said it best himself in his 2012 Republican “autopsy report,” writing that “if Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.” Maybe Reince and the rest of the RNC are falling for the platitudes in their press release, but it’s the racist rhetoric from Trump and others that Latinos and immigrants are paying attention to.