It’s been a hard, two-decades-long fall for California’s Republican Party, and one of the major reasons has been its alienation of Latino voters.
Some in the party say tweaking the immigration plank of the state party’s platform might help matters.
“We must be cognizant that our existing platform can come across as offensive — and it has,” said Marcelino Valdez, a Fresno Republican and the state GOP’s Central Valley vice chair.
We must be cognizant that our existing platform can come across as offensive — and it has.
Marcelino Valdez, a Fresno Republican and the state GOP’s Central Valley vice chair
This is a delicate subject among Republicans. There are plenty in the ranks who want the party to take the hardest line possible on immigration, period. They will be suspicious of any proposed changes. Still others say if the party doesn’t change it’s immigration message, it will be doomed to failure in the Golden State. Businessman and presidential hopeful Donald Trump likely made it tougher for Republicans with his comments that undocumented immigrants from Mexico were “bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.”
At the very least, Valdez said, the party should consider softening the wording in its immigration plank, but without changing the underlying stance.
Some who are supportive of the current immigration language say they’re open to wording changes, as long as the basic message stays the same.
One of those is Steve Brandau, a Fresno City Council member and tea party activist. Valdez spoke to Brandau about the idea. Valdez said he needs the backing of people like Brandau for there to be any chance of the changes winning approval.
Said Brandau: “I told him I was open to that as long as it did not weaken the policy.”
Republican political strategist Jon Fleischman, publisher of the FlashReport, a widely read conservative blog, echoed Brandau. “He’s a smart guy,” he said of Valdez. “If he’s got ideas, he should share them.”
Brandau said the true test will be actually seeing the proposed wording. Valdez said he intends to run the proposedchanges past groups and individuals such as Brandau.
“I’m glad that Steve is taking the approach that he is,” Valdez said. “It shows he understands that in order for our platform to be better received, we need to make sure we change some of the language.”
As for the exact revisions, that’s still in the works, Valdez said. He has yet to draft the proposal and wasn’t ready to single out any specific wording that may be offensive.
“We are looking at it line by line to make sure that we don’t come across as being an anti-immigrant party — because we are not,” he said.
But time is of the essence. Delegates will take up the state party’s platform at the GOP’s fall convention next month in Anaheim. Whatever is adopted will be in place for the next four years.
Among the ideas put forth in the eight-paragraph immigration plank are making English the official government language, printing government documents in English only, giving citizenship only to “those who embrace American values and culture,” requiring new immigrants to speak English and allowing businesses to require them to speak it on the job, and ending all state and federal benefits to “illegal aliens other than emergency medical care.”
Valdez — who is on the platform drafting committee and is the lone Mexican-American on the state GOP’s board of directors — was approached about taking up the wording changes. He agreed, and realizes that changes are needed. The overall platform, he said, will still support the immigration policy that is on the books. He said he supports enforcing border security and not allowing “people who broke the law to be rewarded.” But it can be said in a nicer way.
“It’s not what’s said, it’s what’s heard,” he said.