A group of Latino conservatives is criticizing a Hispanic group that slammed GOP presidential candidates for staying silent on anti-immigrant and immigration rhetoric.
In an open letter, the Latino conservatives say the group does not speak for all HIspanics, and said they fail to acknowledge that Democrats are also at fault for stonewalling comprehensive immigration reform.
The letter, signed by 16 conservatives including former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marín and former Puerto Rico Attorney General Jose Fuentes-Agostini, took issue with the statement that GOP candidates are "pandering to the anti-immigrant base of the Republican Party that idolizes Donald Trump."
In an interview with NBC Latino, Alfonso Aguilar, executive director of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, said Latino conservative groups have held GOP candidates accountable for disparaging comments on immigrants in the past. He said his organization blasted Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz and Sen. Rick Santorum for presenting unreasonable immigration plans.
"We had a meeting in Colorado and blasted Trump, saying his comments were offensive and his proposals were crazy; so we said we would not campaign for him," Aguilar said. "... We are not backing down. We hold our people accountable to be consistent and honest with our community."
Aguilar said far left groups like People for the American Way put the interest of the Democratic party ahead of the numerous interests of the broad Latino electorate.
"The fact of the matter is that the majority of GOP presidential candidates -- active in the race or who have already suspended their campaigns -- have not used offensive language towards our community nor have used any term in a malicious way to disparage Latinos," the letter reads.
The GOP is responding to a recent letter and press conference held by the group People for the American Way, stating that Latinos have "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," said the group.
But conservative Latinos like Aguilar say that the Republican candidates, for the most part, have rejected or opposed Trump's call for mass deportations.
"It is ironic that even though they are eager to make these vicious public attacks against Republicans, they remain quiet when Democrats fail our community," the letter reads. "They didn’t object either two years ago when Hillary Clinton called for the immediate deportation of unaccompanied minors coming from Central America or when Bernie Sanders erroneously argues that immigration hurts American workers by lowering their wages."
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The letter also criticized prominent Latinos such as actress America Ferrera and activist Dolores Huerta for using their "celebrity status and notoriety" to speak for all American Hispanics.
"Our community is not monolithic," the letter reads. "We are diverse and have different views. Please do not treat us in a condescending way. And, most of all, don't try to sell us out to one political party."