The Congressional Hispanic Caucus set off a furor this week with its decision to refuse the membership application of Miami-area Congressman Carlos Curbelo, who would have become the organization’s sole Republican member.
Curbelo has condemned this refusal as blatant partisanship, while the Caucus has insisted its members must align with each other ideologically.
There around a dozen Hispanic Republican members of Congress, including at least two Senators. A separate organization, the Congressional Hispanic Conference, includes several Republicans.
Despite the Hispanic Caucus’s bias, Carlos Curbelo is a dedicated advocate of the immigration reform
Curbelo is a particularly striking example, because he is a dedicated advocate of immigration reform. He has championed expanding the DREAM Act from the more exclusive categories drawn by its Democratic sponsors.
Representing a South Florida district won by Hillary Clinton, Curbelo is one of the more moderate Republicans in Congress, and on immigration policy he has not been afraid to oppose his own party.
In 2016, he also refused to endorse Donald Trump and was unreserved in his condemnations of the populist, nativist nominee of his own party.
The chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Congresswoman Michelle Grisham, is currently running for Governor of New Mexico. In a state that has a long tradition of bipartisan inclusion of Hispanics, and where a relatively large percentage sometimes vote Republican, Grisham’s Democrats-only policy might be a turn-off to many voters.
Carlos Curbelo doesn’t hold back in criticizing the partisanship of Hispanic Democrats
For his part, Curbelo insists he is just trying to return the group to its bipartisan roots, including members of both parties working to ensure that the interests and concerns of Hispanic Americans are well-represented on Capitol Hill. In a statement responding to the unanimous rejection of his membership application, he did not hold back:
It is truly shameful the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has decided to build a wall around the organization to exclude Hispanic-Americans who aren’t registered in the Democratic Party. This sends a powerful and harmful message of discrimination, bigotry, and division. Unbelievably, petty partisan interests have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics. It is a dark day on Capitol Hill. However, this only strengthens my commitment to working with my colleagues on both sides to urgently seek a solution for young immigrants in the DACA Program.
In contrast, the Congressional Black Caucus has long been dominated by Democrats, and some Republicans decline to join. But no Black Republican has ever been refused membership.
Currently, Rep. Mia Love of Utah is the sole Republican member of the CBC. Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina declined to join.
(Rep. Carlos Curbelo (right) talks with reporters with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, R-Washington, following the weekly House Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol October 24, 2017. Ryan and the GOP leadership said that tax cuts and reforms were their priority, and pledged to pass legislation in the House by the Thanksgiving holiday. Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.)