A conservative Latino advocacy wants Republican presidential candidates who espouse anti-immigrant rhetoric to know that they’ve gone too far.
The LIBRE Initiative, a conservative Latino advocacy group funded by the Koch brothers, issued “an open letter to all Americans” on Wednesday to reject extreme immigration proposals, like ending the practice of birthright citizenship and insisting on mass deportation.
“Such proposals are not in line with our principles and are not in the best interest of the country,” Daniel Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, wrote in the letter. Garza stated that both policy proposals fail the “prudent test” because it would “unduly intrude” on the lives of law-abiding Americans and that the policies could “impose an unwarranted cost on the taxpayers.”
“If you’re somebody who’s proposing bad policies, we’re going to call you out,” Garza told NPR in an interview. “Period, without regard to political consequences, what the political winds are. We are going to stand on sound ideas and sound policy.”
The LIBRE Initiative has been controversial in the Latino community for some time. The group sponsors local services, like helping undocumented immigrants obtain driver’s licenses. LIBRE claims to support comprehensive immigration reform, but Garza previously stated that President Obama’s executive action granting deportation reprieve and work authorization for some undocumented immigrants was “pandering” and “dangerous.”
Though the LIBRE Initiative doesn’t call out specific candidates by name, both of the initiatives they cite are at the heart of GOP frontrunner Donald Trump’s immigration policy plan. The plan has sparked intense reaction from Latino voters, many of whom have personal ties to immigrants. A 2013 Latino Decisions poll found that 85 percent of Latino undocumented immigrants have U.S. citizen family members.
Trump’s immigration rhetoric appeases some voters who want the government to focus on deporting undocumented immigrants. In reality, it would cost the government anywhere between $400 billion to $600 billion to deport the country’s 11.3 million undocumented immigrants. Such a policy would also “shrink the labor force by 11 million workers and reduce real GDP by $1.6 trillion,” the conservative-leaning American Action Forum indicated in a report.
Still, Trump’s nativist rhetoric has had consequences, helping to spur some of the most racially charged reactions against Latinos in the past few months. In August, two brothers brutally beat and urinated on a homeless Latino man, reportedly telling the police that Trump “was right, all these illegals need to be deported.” A Trump supporter told Univision anchor and U.S. citizen Jorge Ramos to “get out of my country.” And as the immigrant advocacy group America’s Voice has been updating in a timeline, there have been various other incidents against Latinos in recent days. Most recently, a man pulled the hair of a young immigrant while another immigrant was spat on at a Trump rally in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday.