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NCLR President Janet Murguía blasts GOP: "There is a malignancy in the Republican Party, and it is growing."

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Speakers at the NCLR’s annual Capital Awards blasted Congressional Republicans last night, following weeks of chaotic infighting over immigration action and bringing the nation’s security to the brink of a shutdown.

Republican House leaders finally did bring up a clean DHS bill for passage, but only after stripping the bill’s anti-immigrant riders — inserted to appease the Mass-Deportation Caucus currently dictating the party’s immigration platform — that would have put millions of immigrant families at risk of deportation.

Said NCLR President Janet Murguía at last night’s event:

“This year began with the convening of a new Congress. Republicans had campaigned for, and won, a majority in both houses and promised to take the country in a new direction. Their leadership vowed a more productive approach to governing that wouldn’t scare the American people by shutting down the government.

Except, apparently, when it comes to the Latino community.”

Murguía warned that with millions of Latinos looking ahead to the 2016 election, the GOP’s attacks on immigration action — popular with 89% of Latinos & 76% of Latino Republicans, according to leading pollsters within the Latino community — will have dire electoral consequences for any Republican candidate seeking the White House:

“There is a malignancy in the Republican Party, and it is growing.

There was a time when the extreme views surrounding the immigration debate came only from the party’s extremists. Today, the extreme has become the Republican Party mainstream, and their rhetoric falls too readily from the lips of candidates at the national, state, and local levels.

That such rhetoric can have an impact should not be surprising. The political self-assessment published by the Republican Party after the last presidential election was unusually blunt.

As former Republican House Majority Leader Dick Armey said in this report, ‘We’ve chased the Hispanic voter out of his natural home.’

They should have listened to their own words.

The Republican Party’s blockade of any type of progress on immigration—whether in a bipartisan bill or the president’s executive order—sends a brutal message to our community.

Make no mistake. Our complaint is not partisan. It’s personal. The Republican blockade against reform is having a searing impact on our community.

And these actions will have political consequences. Candidates are already testing the waters for the next presidential campaign. Soon they will be asking for our vote—and with good reason.

The Latino vote is the fastest-growing voting bloc in the country. Some 14 million Latinos will vote in 2016.

We have already demonstrated that we can shake up the road to the White House. Next year we will also be looking at how our vote can impact Senate races in states like Illinois, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Missouri.

Candidates in those states and across the country have a choice. They can continue to follow the strategy that Pete Wilson used in California to marginalize our community—with predictable results—or they can step up to help us change the course of history.”

Republicans should take Murguía’s commitment to defending the immigrant community to heart. It was barely a year ago when Murguía — a key Obama Administration ally — referred to the President as the “Deporter-in-Chief” following record deportations (and incurring the White House’s wrath in the process).

America’s Voice Executive Director Frank Sharry, who was honored for his life-long work in support of immigrants’ rights, lifted up the heartbreaking story of Elizabeth Perez, an Ohio mom and combat veteran of the Marine Corps whose husband was deported in 2010 and has been fighting in the movement for immigration reform since.

In an NCLR Q&A earlier this week, Sharry asserted that it’s Elizabeth’s story — and the stories of the millions of immigrant families who will benefit from immigration action — that will ultimately lead to the passage of reform, whether “Congress has a change of heart or we change Congress”:

“While it’s quite clear that for this Congress the Republican majority is more interested in nullifying the president’s executive actions than in passing pro-immigrant reforms, I am hopeful that the 2016 election will open space for comprehensive immigration legislation in 2017. In fact, it could be similar to what happened after the 2012 election, but on steroids.

If not, then until we have a Congress that will do what the American people want, we may have to rely on a combination of additional executive actions and state and local pro-immigrant policies that will give the majority of undocumented immigrants living in America work permits, driver’s licenses, access to higher education, worker protections, and travel permission. However long it takes, I think we’ve won the argument, we’ve won the politics, and we’re gaining strength every day as a movement.

Victory is a matter of when, not if.”

Read Murguía’s complete remarks here, and Sharry’s special Q&A with NCLR here.