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“Until 2012, people didn’t understand that our community was also capable of investing significant dollars nationally,” Muńoz said. “My father used to tell me: ‘No peso, no say-so,’ and I think that’s probably true.”
Democratic and Republican immigration advocates are raising money from separate pots, but their allies are increasingly working together. An immigration overhaul appeals to Republicans both for business and political reasons, said Henry Cisneros, the housing secretary under former President Bill Clinton, and co-chairman of a new task force on immigration set up by the Bipartisan Policy Center. The other task force co-chairmen are ex-Bush Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former Mississippi GOP Gov. Haley Barbour and ex-Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat.
“The Republican Party doesn’t want to get pigeonholed as anti-immigration and anti-Latino,” said Cisneros, who also helped found the New America Alliance, a Latino business initiative, and the Latino Donor Collaborative, a project spearheaded by businessman Sol Trujillo that has set out to debunk myths about Latinos and boost their social, political and economic profile. “That’s not a healthy place for the Republican Party.”
Spies acknowledged that not all Republicans will back his new GOP super PAC: “I certainly have gotten some nasty emails from people.”
Indeed, intraparty disputes over immigration intensified last week, as The Washington Post reported that Republican organizers and lawmakers have mounted a whispering and public relations campaign to discredit three anti-immigration groups— the Center for Immigration Studies, the Federation for American Immigration Reform and NumbersUSA — as having hidden environmental and zero population agendas.
Organizers for all three groups denied the allegation and said they are strictly nonpartisan.
“What is clear as the immigration debate heats up is the amount of money that’s being thrown into this debate,” FAIR Executive Director Julie Kirchner said. “It is disappointing that so many special interests are being heard on Capitol Hill, and not the voice of the American people.”
Even as Republicans settle their differences, Democrats said they welcome new GOP groups and voices in the immigration debate.
“We need comprehensive immigration reform, and it’s never too late for Republicans to come to the party,” said Manuel “Manny” Sanchez, a Chicago trial lawyer who also co-chaired the Futuro Fund.