Establishment Republicans are now championing getting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses. At the Eastern Indoor Swapmeet Las Vegas, the LIBRE Initiative, a group funded by the Koch brothers, was attempting to help 250 Latinos, some of whom were illegal immigrants, to pass the Nevada driver’s test.
The LIBRE Initiative now has tentacles in nine states, and in Las Vegas they ran a four-hour test prep session so Latinos could learn the laws for driving in Spanish. What seems counter-intuitive is that the Koch brothers support GOP candidates who oppose citizenship for illegal immigrants.
If illegal immigrants gain driver’s licenses, it could well undermine the nation’s security, as the 9/11 Commission pointed out, asserting, “Secure identification should begin in the United States. The federal government should set standards for the issuance of birth certificates and sources of identification, such as drivers licenses. Fraud in identification documents is no longer just a problem of theft. At many entry points to vulnerable facilities, including gates for boarding aircraft, sources of identification are the last opportunity to ensure that people are who they say they are and to check whether they are terrorists.”
LIBRE also gives Latinos tax preparation help, health checkups, scholarships, and free food, on the one hand, but also runs ads supporting the “free market,” smaller government, and school choice. Some of its representatives appear on Spanish-language news stations to speak of “self-reliance.”
Daniel Garza, executive director of LIBRE, points out that his group tells Latinos that a higher minimum wage might hurt them because it will impinge on businesses.
Some Democrats profess alarm over the inroads LIBRE is making in the Latino community; The Latino Victory Fund, supported by Democratic activists, has scheduled a Washington meeting next week to figure out how to address the supposed inroads LIBRE is making for the GOP. Cristóbal Alex, president of the Victory Fund, said LIBRE “talks about immigration in a positive way” but “is really doing work on behalf of the Koch brothers, who put huge money behind candidates against immigration reform.”
LIBRE has received $10 million in the last four years from Freedom Partners, a nonprofit group funded by the Koch brothers and other conservative donors.
David Damore, from the leftist Brookings Institution, said Libre’s success depends on how the GOP handles immigration, stating, “Very few people listen to you if you say you want to deport you and your family.” He added that LIBRE’s strategy is not to win the Latino vote, “just not losing it 3 to 1,” which the GOP did in 2012.
The most visible establishment GOP presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, consistently reminds audiences that his wife is from Mexico; he has already posted a Spanish translation of his campaign strategy on the website of his super PAC. Marco Rubio, whose parents came from Cuba, speaks Spanish fluently; he is often featured on Spanish-language newscasts and Sunday-morning public affairs shows.