Immigration has become a hot button topic in recent years as both Republican and Democratic parties attempt to put their most favorable foot forward in anticipation of upcoming congressional elections in the House and Senate. The 2012 Presidential election made both sides very aware how important the Hispanic base is to winning and remaining in office and how the immigration issue in particular can get out the vote. With that relevance assured, the non-partisan National Hispanic Leadership Agenda which consists of a coalition of 39 Latino organizations released a scorecard revealing how lawmakers in the 113th Congress have voted on bills effecting Latinos politically, economically and socially.
This is not to say that the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda is taking any side or attempting to influence the results of the election any particular way. Indeed, the coalition have made it clear that the congressional scorecard was made solely to offer “important legislative feedback to the public.” Their goal is to provide shape to the agenda in the coming weeks before the election.
The scorecard is separated into three major criteria: political appointments, economics and immigration. Based on these larger issues and their effect on the Latino community, members of Congress were ranked by their votes either in favor of the stance of 39 Latino organizations or opposed to that consensus. The lawmakers were given notice of the coalition’s stance on these topics.The scorecard wasn’t so kind to some. For instance, in the Senate there were 19 lawmakers who received scores of zero–that is, they stood entirely in opposition to the wants and needs of the greater Latino community.
Among these stalwarts was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Kentucky, Republican Junior Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Republican Junior Senator Rand Paul, also from Kentucky. The Democratic Senator who received the lowest score was Senator John Hoeven from North Dakota who took home a mark of 23 percent. Republican Senator Marco Rubio from Florida doubled that score with 46 percent.In the House of Representatives, all representatives in Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wyoming–all these states having no Democratic representatives.
Among the larger names, it was Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican from Ohio, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa who received 0 percent marks. The obvious takeaway here is that the most powerful members of the Republican party made it very clear where they stand relative to the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda.
Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement and chairperson in the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, made that difference starkly clear, stating, “Time and again, the issues that matter to the Latino community receive nothing but lip service from our elected officials. Promises and assurances that our issues matter to our leaders are followed by no real actions. That is why we believe this scorecard is so important.” Sanchez went on to say how the scorecard acted as a representation of how congressional lawmakers thought and behaved when it came to bringing justice to the American system of immigration, establishing proper representation of Latinos within the halls of Washington, D.C. and helping “struggling families” affected by a sluggish economy.
Thomas A Saenz, President of the Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund, reasoned that the large voter turnout of Latin Americans in the 2012 Presidential election illustrated that the Latino community “cares deeply about critical policy issues and about holding elected officials accountable.” Accountable for their votes on immigration, yes, but also accountable for their votes on political representation. Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of the League of United Latin American Citizens explains, “In the NHLA scorecard, the public will be able to see how their Senators voted when given the chance to confirm outstanding Hispanic leaders to important posts that ultimately influence public policy and shape the work of the federal government.”