On Monday, February 16th at the National Press Club in D.C., the 10-month-old American Principles Project launched the “Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles.” The American Principles Project, a group founded by Princeton’s Robert George to build a grassroots movement around conservative ideas, sponsored a panel today CPAC about the rise of Latino conservatism. According to the panelists, the Latino Partnership plans to take a politically active role in the 2010 elections and beyond in moving Latino voters to the right.

To the panel, the relationship between conservatives and American Hispanics is necessarily symbiotic. On the one hand, given demographics—by 2050, Hispanic Americans will constitute one quarter of the U.S. population—conservatives need the Hispanic vote, which tips the scale in local and state-wide races in places like Colorado, California, Texas, and New Mexico.

On the other hand, Hispanics are naturally conservative, the panelists argued, with traditional views about the role of families, faith, and small businesses in society. According to Alfonso Aguilar, the former Chief of the U.S. Office of Citizenship under George W. Bush, 57% oppose abortions; 56% oppose gay marriage; and Hispanics are the largest minority group in the business community, opening businesses at three times the national average.

“The only reason Hispanics support Democrats is that Republicans antagonized and alienated them” by stridently opposing immigration reform, said Aguilar. Grover Norquist, a speaker on the panel and president of Americans for Tax Reform, said that Latinos are coming to America ready to assimilate to this country’s free, open, market-based society. “Immigrants left some other country that looks like Massachusetts to come here,” he said, poking fun at the inefficient state-run economies that Latin America is infamous for. Beyond that, Aguilar pointed out that among second generation Latinos, 93% of them are fluent in English, their employment rates match those of white men, and that one third to one half of them marry across race and ethnic lines.

This is why, the Latino Partnership argues, Americans should embrace the immigration of Latinos to this country. “Our strength is that we welcome and assimilate immigrants,” Norquist said, noting that this is why the American economy and population continue to grow, while Europe and Russia’s falter. Even China, he said, in thirty years will face an aging, stagnant—if not declining—population.

The Partnership’s immigration strategy consists of five parts, which include strengthening border security, a generous guest-worker program, the promotion of patriotic assimilation, prioritizing domestic enforcement—in other words, going after criminals who are here illegally, rather than an aging waitress here illegally—and, rather than amnesty, a program of legalizing an illegal immigrant’s status, but with a penalty.

The initiative will devote $500,000 to grassroots efforts as it tests out its attempt to reach out of American Latinos.

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