Conservative Latino group speaks out against GOP immigration rhetoric

A conservative Latino group made a bold statement against the immigration rhetoric of fellow conservatives Wednesday. The Libre Initiative — which is funded by the Koch brothers — penned a letter criticizing the immigration policies of GOP presidential candidates as “not in line with our principles and […] not in the best interest of the country”:

Specifically, the group pointed to calls to end birthright citizenship and mass deportation as problematic. Though the letter does not name any specific candidates, both of those ideas were put forward by Donald Trump, the current GOP front-runner, in a controversial, hard-line policy that brought immigration to the forefront once again in the Republican primary.

Other candidates, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, have said birthright citizenship should be re-examined or curtailed. Christie went so far as to float tracking immigrants and used FedEx’s tracking of packages as an example.

All of that strong language has raised the ire of — and alienated — some conservative Latinos.

“We will raise our voice against unrealistic, and what I feel are ineffective policies, that move us away from much needed reform,” said Daniel Garza, executive director of the Libre Initiative, in an interview with NPR.

The letter is perhaps the strongest statement the conservative group has made thus far in the immigration debate. The group said it wanted to formalize its opposition in written form for all candidates and policymakers to see.

“If you’re somebody who’s proposing bad policies, we’re going to call you out,” Garza said. “Period, without regard to political consequences, what the political winds are. We are going to stand on sound ideas and sound policy.”

The letter puts GOP candidates in a tough spot. While the Latino vote will likely play a crucial role in the 2016 election, a recent NBC/Marist poll shows that potential Republican voters in both New Hampshire and Iowa would be “less likely” to vote for a candidate “who supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented or illegal immigrants.”