After resoundingly losing the Hispanic vote in 2012, Republicans are making their pitch to Hispanic voters. These new efforts range from pushing for immigration reform to Sen. Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) plan to deliver the GOP’s State of the Union response in both Spanish and English. However, the House Republican Conference’s new “GOP en Español” initiative to distribute Spanish translations of Republican State of the Union reactions proved to be the last straw for some factions of the party.
Opposition from Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who has sponsored “English-only” legislation to make English the official language of the US, stalled the launch of GOP en Español. In an interview with the National Journal, King explained:
“There’s a conflicting message that comes out from the Republicans if we want to recognize the unifying power of English, and meanwhile, we send out communications in multiple languages. Official business and documents needs to be in English.” […] He says that English is “empowering and unifying” and that the GOP en Español program “sends a subliminal message in contradiction.”
The English only movement has gained traction in sixteen states, and even more extreme legislation is being considered by some Republican-dominated legislatures. “English only” laws often prohibit state and local government officials, and sometimes private companies, from conducting any business in Spanish or providing translations of certain documents, cutting off the 25.2 million Americans who speak limited English.
Hispanic voters are the fastest growing minority in the US, and supported Obama by 75 percent in the November election. Though some Republicans are trying to change this by pushing for immigration reform and greater tolerance, former Secretary of State Colin Powell (R) blasted his party for “a dark vein of intolerance” that alienates minorities. Past GOP outreach efforts have fallen flat; during the election, the Republican National Committee’s Hispanic outreach site took flack for using a stock photo of Asian children, while multiple candidates’ Spanish language websites either avoided or altered their stances on immigration.