Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Ohio Gov. John Kasich stand for a group photo befpre a Republican presidential primary debate, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
Latino celebrities on Thursday called on their community to fight back against what they described as Donald Trump's’ “anti-immigrant fear-mongering.”
In an open letter released in partnership with People for the American Way (PFAW), Hollywood heavy-hitters including Benjamin Bratt, Ivonne Coll, America Ferrera, George Lopez, Zoe Saldana and Civil rights leader and PFAW board member, Dolores Huerta, urged Latinos to stand up to the hard-line approach to immigration some candidates in the GOP field are taking.
“It’s deeply troubling that what once were fringe, anti-immigrant sentiments have made their way into the everyday language of the leading Republican candidates for president," said PFAW president Michael Keegan in a press release about the letter. He and some of those who signed the letter also repeated their appeal in a press call on Thursday.
"No one aspiring to our nation’s highest office should seek to gain political points by attacking immigrants, but that’s what we’re hearing day after day during the GOP primary," he said. "This letter addresses the profoundly concerning rhetoric and policies of all the leading Republican candidates.”
Long-time labor and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta said in a statement that she is particularly concerned about Trump, who has promised to have deportation squads if he is president and has vowed to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
She said she is troubled by candidates who have spent countless hours using their national platform to debate who can stake out the most anti-immigrant policies.
"It sickens me to hear them paint immigrants as terrorists, commit to deporting DREAMers and separating families, and ignore the critical contributions of Latinos and immigrants to our nation,” Huerta said.
In addition to the open letter to Latinos, many of the celebrities added comments of their own.
Emmy-winning actress America Ferrera, who has been an advocate for Latinos, said that the community must not remain silent as immigrants are demonized by some presidential candidates.
“It’s critical that all Americans, and especially American Latinos, stand up to the misrepresentation of our communities coming from Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and any other candidate running on a platform of xenophobia and fear-mongering," Ferrera said. "The way to do that is to show up on Election Day. And that means young Latinos have to register and vote. We have the numbers and potential to make a difference.”
Most of the open letter speaks to Trump’s xenophobic comments during his campaign. But Huerta says her involvement is focused on getting the Latino community to get out and vote.
“We’re working to reach the young people. We need young voters. And Latinos feel discriminated against, and so to have the celebrities signing this open letter, it’s as if someone is standing up for them,” Huerta told Fox News Latino during a phone interview.
The Letter: An Open Letter to the Latino Community:
In this year’s 2016 Republican presidential primary, the candidates crossed a line. In trying to win the nomination, every one of the leading candidates dug themselves into a deep hole pandering to the anti-immigrant base of the Republican Party that idolizes Donald Trump.
There’s no coming back from this. We’ve seen clearly that all the leading Republican candidates have sided with the far-right at the expense of the Latino community. They’re capitalizing on negative stereotypes and inaccurate information about our community in order to win votes from the GOP base.
Of course, this downward spiral began with Trump. From accusing Mexicans of being rapists to kicking Jorge Ramos out of his press conference, Trump has spent the entirety of his presidential bid stoking unfounded anti-immigrant fears and deeply offending our communities.
We must not, though, let Trump’s xenophobia overshadow the extreme policies being pushed by every single one of the GOP’s leading presidential candidates. Latinos should understand that Donald Trump embodies the true face of the entire Republican Party. Sadly, he speaks for the GOP’s anti-immigrant, anti-Latino agenda.
Candidates – including supposed “moderates” like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio – used dangerous, divisive rhetoric and proposed harmful policies in their efforts to win over Trump’s radical supporters. Jeb Bush’s unapologetic use of the term “anchor babies” aligns with his belief that undocumented immigrants here in the U.S. should not have a path to citizenship. His statement that “we should not have a multicultural society” is indefensible. Marco Rubio said that “we must secure our border, the physical border, with a wall, absolutely.” He’s ruled out any path to citizenship or legal status during his term(s) as president if elected. Chris Christie suggested that immigrants should be tracked like FedEx packages.
The candidates cannot come back from these hardline stances. Trump is certainly an outlier for his racist remarks. But the rest of the Republican presidential candidates went off the deep end with him.
Our communities have the power to decide who wins in the 2016 election. We hope that power is used to vote for candidates who support our community, share our values, and will fight for working families. Neither Trump nor any of his fellow Republican candidates meet that standard.
Even if the eventual Republican nominee backtracks on his or her anti-immigrant sentiments, we must not forget that we’ve now seen that in the face of bigotry, the Republican candidates have chosen to turn their backs on our community. The current slate of GOP candidates has proven to us that they’ve joined and embraced the party of Trump.