Ward Room receives a lot of press releases. Just last week, we got one from a group called TeaCanos, which represents Hispanics in the Tea Party Movement. Or Movemiento Fiesta del Te. That’s probably wrong, but you can’t hire a foreign language expert for a blogger’s salary.
According to the release, written by Veronica L. Vera, “In good ol’ Illinois, pride and joy of the Democrat Party, the Tea Party is alive and well, and making its mark in the Hispanic community. Hispanic Tea Partiers in Illinois, identifying themselves as ‘TeaCanos,’ are popping up around the state and declaring their support of smaller government and freer markets; their defense of individual freedoms; and their advocacy of personal responsibility.”
And what exactly do Hispanics and the Tea Party have in common? According to Vera, they both care about jobs and the economy.
“In the swing states of Florida, Colorado, and New Mexico, for example, 72%, 69%, and 60% of Hispanics respectively say that these issues are most important,” Vera wrote.
I believe these polling results give the Tea Party an opening with other groups that have traditionally shunned the movement. Illegal immigrants, for example. Illegal immigrants care about jobs. That’s why the come to this country. Also, gays and lesbians. They need jobs to afford real estate in expensive urban neighborhoods. African-Americans need jobs more than anyone. The African-American unemployment rate is 16 percent.
The Tea Party is claiming common ground with Hispanics on the issue where it has common ground with everyone. But the Tea Party also backed Arizona’s SB 1070, which allows authorities to demand proof of citizenship from anyone who looks like an immigrant. That law is seen as a license to harass Hispanics.
Before Thursday’s Republican presidential debate in Orlando, a columnist for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel pointed out that the Tea Party is popular with Hispanics in Florida. The state has a conservative Hispanic senator, Marco Rubio.
As the author pointed out, that’s because most Florida Hispanics are Cubans and Puerto Ricans, who have no immigration restrictions. Illinois, though, has a large population of Mexicans, who care very deeply about immigration. That’s why the Tea Party is a tougher sell here.
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