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June 1, 2006

Hispanic Republican Leader Lashes Out at Party

Posted by David Postman at 7:52 AM

The head of the state Republicans' Hispanic outreach group says he was blindsided by the party's immigration platform, which he says Republicans should be ashamed of. He blames the conservative activists who pushed to amend what had been a more moderate proposal and says Diane Tebelius, the chairwoman of the party, did not reach out to Hispanics before the convention and failed to control the right-ward slide of the platform.

Raul Diaz, chairman of the Washington State Republican National Hispanic Assembly, laid out the strongest objections yet to the party's call to end automatic citizenship for babies born to illegal aliens and for requiring all illegal immigrants to return home before applying for a guest worker program:

I'm no longer going to sit here and be the puppet for the Republican Party, for a few small-minded people who came through and did this. The 14th Amendment, you cannot take that away. You cannot take away these laws written by our forefathers.

If you took Diane Tebelius and you took these people who passed this agenda and put them in Alabama, slavery would come back in our lifetime.

UPDATE: (After reading this post, Diaz has had second thoughts about his comments, which he said were made in anger and "don't reflect my true freelings and beliefs." He said he particularly regrets the comments about slavery. "In no way do I support that platform. But in no way is the Republican Party racist or bigoted. ... The Republican Party did not use me as a puppet. I was frustrated with them.")

The Washington RNHA was formed after the 2000 elections by local Hispanics who had campaigned for George W. Bush. The next year the group became an official affiliate of the state Republican Party. Diaz has been chairman of the group since March. He said in that time Tebelius has never reached out to him, even as the immigration debate heated up. As recently as the night before the platform debate at last weekend's Yakima convention Diaz said he tried to talk to Tebelius but felt he got the brush off. He did speak at the party's campaign school on Friday.

Diaz said there was word that some wanted a tougher stand on illegal immigration. But, he said, "The last we had heard was that they had kept it off the agenda." He said he told Tebelius, "I don't want to get sideswiped." He said he did not attend the Saturday platform debate.

Tebelius said in response:

I don't have any comment because I don't know what he is really talking about. I don't think it is a slap at Hispanic voters. It's dealing with illegal immigrants and there are a lot of Hispanic voters that are legal. I hardly think it has to do with any race or class. There were Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans who supported that platform. I'm sorry he feels that way. I have no further comment.

Diaz puts a lot of blame on Tebelius.

Diane didn't have the guts or the leadership skills to make sure that the platform would reflect the true reform that President Bush's bill has. When President Bush had called us, and called everyone together, particularly Hispanic Republicans together, we worked our ass off. Forty nine percent of registered Hispanics voted for President Bush in Washington. Forty three percent of the Anglos did.

We cherish the same things any other Republican does. We love the freedom we have. But there has been a backlash of late. Not only of illegal aliens but now we have been shut out of the party.

Diaz and his group are no liberals. He says schools should teach immigrant children in English, not Spanish. "We believe we live in the United States and we should speak English."

But he says he wants to tell Tebelius how he feels about the state Republican Party. "I'm going to make sure I say it in English and Spanish because I'm going to execute my constitutional right of freedom of speech."

As the chairman of the Hispanic Republican Party, I'm coming out and taking a stand against the Republican Party of the state of Washington and the platform. It hurts because they went after the kids. They didn't go after the parents. Shame on them. Shame on them.

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