Seven months after the Republican National Committee (RNC) released a report recommendation to reach out to the Hispanic population, the Republican National Committee has hired “Hispanic Engagement Staff” in seven states. The latest push by the Republican Party to engage Hispanics comes at a time when the party is perceived as out of touch with Hispanic interests.
On Monday, the RNC released a statement, indicating that it would hire Hispanic State Directors and Hispanic Field Directors in California, Florida, New Jersey, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia:
The engagement team will build a grassroots infrastructure and engage with voters at community events, as well as strengthen our ties with Hispanic Republicans. As part of the RNC’s effort to build a permanent ground operation, the RNC will work in partnership with state parties to ensure a year-round presence in Latino neighborhoods. Additionally, by the end of the year, the committee will make investments in 11 other states.
The rapid growth of minority voter population — an estimated 50,000 Hispanic 18-year-olds become eligible to vote each month) — will make Hispanic voters a crucial demographic for the 2016 election. Polls show that immigration reform will be a driving issue for these voters; at least 52 percent of Hispanics would hold more favorable views of Republicans if they help to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
But the Republican Party’s attempted outreach to Hispanic voters has taken two steps back for every forward step.
The Republican Party has failed to address immigration in a way that would keep immigrant families together. About 37.3 percent of the Hispanic population are immigrants. Latinos also make up an estimated 76 percent of the 11 million undocumented population. Yet the RNC refuses to accept a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes a pathway to citizenship.
On the issue of healthcare, at least two-thirds of Latino believe that the federal government should ensure that everyone has access to health insurance. Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than any other ethnic group, but Republicans are actively trying to prevent eventual legal immigrants from enrolling in healthcare. The majority of Latinos are also more aligned with Democrats on climate change and marriage equality.
Previous iterations of Republican Party outreach have been less than successful. After winning only 27 percent of the Latino vote, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, claimed Obama won the election by giving “gifts,” like expanding healthcare coverage and other services, to black and Latino voters. During the election, RNClatinos.com used a stock photograph of Asian children as its banner picture. This past May, a Hispanic State Director defected to the Democrat Party– Pablo Pantoja, then-State Director of Florida Hispanic Outreach cited the Republican Party’s “culture of intolerance” for making the switch. Recently, House Republican leaders appeared in a Hispanic Heritage Month video touting Hispanic ties to American society, but the video made no mention of immigration reform.