According to the website for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), the group “addresses national and international issues and crafts policies that impact the Hispanic community,” but as one Florida Congressman discovered, they only want you if you’re a Democrat.
Rep. Carlos Curbelo is the son of Cuban exiles who fled the Castro regime. He was born and raised in Miami and attended the University of Miami. First elected to Congress in 2014, his district includes part of Miami-Dade County and the Florida Keys and is majority Hispanic.
Curbelo is known as a moderate Republican, and has been ranked one of the most bipartisan members of Congress. He opposed Donald Trump in the 2016 election.
On the topic of immigration, Curbelo has voiced support for a legislative solution to allow DACA recipients to stay. In a Facebook post earlier this week, Curbelo described DACA recipients as “America’s children” and said that they deserved to have a “permanent solution to their legal status.”
“I urge all my colleagues to do right by them and support any legislation that would give them the certainty they deserve,” wrote Curbelo. Another post a few days earlier expressed support for a bipartisan bill to address the DACA issue.
The point is that Curbelo is no extremist, especially on the immigration issue, Still, that wasn’t good enough for the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Originally founded as a bipartisan organization, the CHC has been composed entirely of Democrats since the 1990s. Curbelo first sought membership back in February, and grew frustrated as his efforts to join were continually stalled. The Congressional Black Caucus, with a similarly Democrat-dominated membership, allowed Utah Republican Rep. Mia Love to join their ranks.
Finally, this week Curbelo was able to make his case to the CHC members and answer their questions. One concern he addressed was that he told the group he was only interested in participating in policy-oriented meetings, and not those where the Democratic members were discussing partisan political strategies, according to a report by the Miami Herald.
It was all for naught, as Curbelo’s membership was denied in a vote the members took on Thursday.
“The CHC isn’t just an organization for Hispanics; it is a caucus that represents certain values” said CHC spokesperson Carlos Paz, Jr. “this vote reflects the position of many of our members that Rep. Curbelo and his record are not consistent with those values.”
DENIED: Congressional Hispanic Caucus rejects Florida Republican @RepCurbelo’s request to join the group. pic.twitter.com/WqmCKSlNfB
— Sahil Kapur (@sahilkapur) November 16, 2017
Curbelo fired back, posting statements on Twitter in both English and Spanish. decrying what he called the CHC’s “decision to discriminate against a fellow Hispanic.”
“It is a dark day on Capitol Hill,” said Curbelo.
It is noteworthy that even as Curbelo is railing against the “petty partisan interests [that] have led the CHC to formally endorse the segregation of American Hispanics,” he still went on to reaffirm his commitment to “working with my colleagues on both sides to urgently seek a solution for young immigrants in the DACA Program.”
My statement on the @HispanicCaucus's decision to discriminate against a fellow Hispanic 👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/pn6l6Ysdjl
— Rep. Carlos Curbelo (@RepCurbelo) November 16, 2017
To recap: the Cuban-American son of Cuban immigrants, who was born and raised in Miami, represents a majority Hispanic district and is bilingual in English and Spanish, isn’t welcome in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
If even a Republican as moderate as Curbelo isn’t good enough for the CHC, perhaps it is time the organization renamed itself to be the Congressional Democratic Hispanic Caucus. Thursday’s vote proved they are not truly interested in being a caucus for anything other than hardline Democratic interests.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter: @rumpfshaker.