GOP won't fool Latinos again
Arizona Republic
May. 1, 2006

Republicans talk the talk -until the election is over

Steve Gallardo
My Turn

During election years, Republican politicians reach out to the Latino community. They tell the Latino voters that they have always cared about their issues. They parade around a few minorities who work for them. What is more important than what Republicans say on the campaign trail is what Republicans do when they are in office.

Much has been said about a speech given recently by Dolores Huerta, a civil rights leader, at a Tucson high school. Some Republicans have created a flap because she said, "Republicans hate Latinos."

However, we can't ignore the fact that there are reasons for people to believe that Republicans dislike Latinos and only pander to them for their vote. This conclusion is easy to draw when one examines the legislation introduced in the Arizona Legislature this session.

I really don't need to list all of the bills aimed at punishing immigrants and the Latino community in one way or another.

Also, consider the legislation that doesn't go anywhere. Democrats in the House have introduced a proposal to increase funding for diabetes research and prevention. I don't need to remind you how much the Latino community struggles with this debilitating disease. Unfortunately for us, that bill hasn't gone anywhere.

Or consider full-day kindergarten. Some Republicans have and will continue to engage in a bloody fight to prevent this proposal from moving forward, even though this will give our children an important boost in school.

And then of course there's minimum wage. I have pushed to increase the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour for four years. My proposal has never gotten a hearing. Many Latinos can't provide for their families even though they work two jobs.

In the past few years, Republicans have endorsed Proposition 203, a proposal to eliminate bilingual education, and Proposition 200, a poorly crafted attempt to limit public services.

On top of that, Republicans want to make English the official language in Arizona, even though that is unconstitutional. They have repeatedly denied adequate funding to English instruction in schools, even though they have been ordered to do so by the courts.

And then there's Rep. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, who said on the floor of the House earlier this session that racial profiling is a good thing.

These are reasons why it is fair for Latinos to assume that Republicans hate them. I ask you, what has the Republican-controlled Legislature ever done to support the Latino community?

Across the aisle, Democrats are fighting for fair and decent housing, affordable and high-quality health care and a public education system that provides all students with the necessary resources to learn.

Democrats value causes based on how many people will have a better quality of life, not based on how many people will be excluded from improving their lives.

At the core of the Democratic movement is a push toward social justice and opportunity for all people, no matter their background or how much money they have.

Latinos won't be fooled this November.