House Democratic Caucus Chair Rep. Xavier Becerra accused Republican presidential hopefuls Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio for seemingly forsaking their Latino roots, especially when it comes to tackling the issue of children from Central America arriving at the U.S. border.
"It feels like they are running from their heritage," said Becerra, D-Calif. "In my book ... they don’t want to say who they are."
In a "Chair Chat" interview with Jaime Harrison, chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party, Becerra said he is a Latino before he is a Democrat. While he can make the choice to leave the party, he said he could never "erase" his skin color.
The Rubio and Cruz campaigns did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment.
"The purest example of that is the way they are attacking these children who are coming at the border who are seeking refuge from the violence in Central America," Becerra said.
Becerra went on to explain both Cruz and Rubio seem to hold a double standard for children from Cuba versus those from Central and South America. He said neither candidate speaks out against the policy which grants Cubans refugee status when they arrive to U.S. soil.
"Yet they blast and attack these immigrant families that are trying to do better for their kids," Becerra said. "And so, you could be conservative. You could say you got to put up a wall, but by God, then make sure everyone has to be behind that and can’t get a special privilege just because of their particular national origin."
Cruz has taken a very hard right view on immigration, backing an "attrition by enforcement" view. Rubio has called for beefing up border security and putting on hold further work on immigration until the border is secure.
But the Obama administration also has taken a tough stand on the arriving families. Immigration enforcement officers are arresting families and children who have not been granted asylum and deporting them. There are fears that a spike in arrivals could occur this summer similar to one that took place in 2014.
Meanwhile, some Cubans who fear the U.S. will change its policy of granting Cubans refugee status because of the thaw in its relationship with Cuba, have been making their way up from Central America to the U.S. border.
"I am just pointing out the real hypocrisy in immigration and to have two candidates who seem to run from who they are and make it difficult for us to get things done," Becerra concluded.