Open Letter to Sen. Rafael (Ted) Cruz

SPARTANBURG, SC - APRIL 3:  Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz answers questions from local media following a to
SPARTANBURG, SC - APRIL 3: Senator and GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz answers questions from local media following a town hall meeting at the Beacon Drive-in restaurant on April 3, 2015 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. The Beacon Drive-in, traditionally a popular venue for campaigning politicians, was Cruz's 2nd stop of the day in South Carolina. (Photo by Richard Ellis/Getty Images)

Estimado Senador Rafael (Ted) Cruz,

We were intrigued by your decision to run for president in the 2016 elections. It certainly is time for a Latino candidate, especially a senator who understands the immigrant experience (considering that you are from Canada), to throw their hat into the ring. Our community needs a candidate who understands the challenges faced by Hispanic Americans, someone who will seriously address Latino concerns on the national level, someone who will highlight and fight for our priorities on the most prominent political stage there is. So we are anxious to see your Latino community platform evolve.

That said, at least you understand just how high the stakes will be in the 2016 elections and the issues that are most important to us. "The whole world is on fire," you told an audience recently. That's correct: The world is warming daily as climate change increases to unprecedented levels. 2014 was the warmest year since we started keeping records on that sort of thing; California is set to run out of water in three years; and a more chaotic climate impacts Latinos, who, surveys show, are more worried about climate change and support environmental regulation initiatives more than any other group in America. It's good to know that you have decided to be with the community when it comes to recognizing our world is warming -- unless you still shy away from confronting the threat of climate change and continue to deny it.

You're also correct to highlight our still-troubled economy. Without a doubt, the current economy is not doing much to benefit Latino families. Even though the economy added 295,000 jobs this February, very few of those new jobs went to Latinos -- unless you count low-wage jobs in the food and service industries. Latino men make 77 cents for every dollar made by the average American, with Hispanic women having it even worse, at a mere 68 cents on that dollar. Latinos also face a higher unemployment rate than the national average. We look forward to your proposal to address the inequities faced by Latino workers, and your proposal to deal with continued unemployment and underemployment in the Hispanic community.

We were somewhat confused when you proposed eliminating the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." After all, as recently as 2013, around a quarter of the country's uninsured population were Latino. Since the law went into effect, 2.6 million Latinos have gained access to affordable health care. But you already know that, since you're now one of those millions of Latinos covered through Obamacare. Still, far too many Latinos lack healthcare coverage. We're interested in hearing your alternative solution to this top Hispanic priority. Perhaps you are thinking of a single-payer healthcare system, in which the government offers affordable health care to all its citizens?

Senator, we may not always see eye-to-eye when it comes to policy, but we do know that your words always ring with a sense of urgency and passion. Now how about taking that same fiery fervor and championing causes that truly empower the Latino community? How about stepping back from your current priorities -- assaulting the social safety net, providing tax breaks for the rich, dismantling affordable health care, preventing immigrant children from receiving an education, denying climate change, and attacking LGBT equality -- and instead using your tireless zeal to seriously confront the plight of Latinos in America? That's not too much to ask from a Latino presidential contender.

Joe Velasquez
Executive Director, NCLR Action Fund