As Rubio and other Latino Republicans win office, their family backgrounds under increased scrutiny
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) -- New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez is forced to research and clarify her late grandfather's immigration status. Marco Rubio, Florida's GOP Senator, is accused of embellishing his family's immigrant story. A Republican congressional candidate in California puts on his website that he is the great-grandson of an illegal immigrant.
As more Latino Republicans seek and win elected office, their families' backgrounds are becoming subject to increased scrutiny from some Latino activists, a reaction experts say is a result of Latino Republicans' conservative views on immigration. It's a new phenomenon that experts say Latino Democrats rarely faced, and could be recurring feature in elections as the Republican Party seeks to recruit more Latino candidates.
Patricia Montes, executive director of Centro Presente, an immigrant advocacy group in Somerville, Mass., said voters need to know a politician's family background for clues on how they will respond to people with similar stories. "It's very important to voters," said Montes.
Montes said most Latino and immigrant voters don't simply Latino Republicans as "vendidos" but rather as politican leaders who don't share their views. "I don't care if someone is Latina or not," said Montes. "I care if they believe in the same things I do, and if their policies will affect the immigrant community."