Florida Congressman Objects To “Hispanic Speaking” District

How many Latino-phobic incidents can you pile on one political statement? Let’s give it a try.

According to a story in the Orlando Sentinel, Florida state senator Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, made what I’m certain he thought was a sincere and innocuous comment. But Latino Republicans in his state are incensed and want him removed from a key committee position.

It all happened at a congressional redistricting hearing.  Hays, a member of the redistircting committee, addressed the creation of a Latino-majority district. Florida, because if its population growth, has gained two new congressional seats. The majority of the growth has been in the Latino community, so, like Texas and California, Florida Latinos want those congressional seats to mirror the growth. Hays warned against it, saying that many “Hispanic-speaking” residents are in the country illegally. This is the same guy who wants to ban Sharia law in Florida.

This is where we can start to build the pile.

Let’s begin with the obvious. Exactly what is “Hispanic-speaking?” Anyone who would use that term is so lost in the clueless wasteland that an army of rescuers couldn’t find him to bring him back. “Hispanic-speaking” has a seat in the ignorance pantheon next to “I don’t speak Meskin.” The important question is how do these people get elected?

Next, pile on to that the idea that all people who speak “Hispanic” are undocumented. It’s a toxic generalization that highlights Hays’ lack of understanding of his own state constituency. To his credit, Hays may have single-handedly taken the practice of language-profiling to a new height.

On top of that, stack Hays’ ignorance of the law. As the Sentinel notes:

Hays’ argument wasn’t rooted in laws regulating redistricting. Every U.S. resident is entitled to political representation, including those unable to vote, such as children, prisoners and undocumented immigrants.

Florida has seen an incredible growth in its Latino community. The Sentinel story highlights that Puerto Rican’s are the largest Latino group in Central Florida — 300,000 and growing (those are legal Hispanics, Senator Hays). It’s no wonder that Hays’ fellow Republicans object to his words and ideas.

“It is disgraceful that we’re still having this conversation almost a century later,” (Osceola County School Board Vice Chairman Julius) Meléndez said of Hays’ comments. “Redistricting is governed by the [federal] Fair Voting Act and the Florida Fair Districts amendment. His brain should be wrapped around those things, not on singling out a group of people.”

They want him to apologize. In fact, the group — a coalition of GOP elected officials from three Central Florida counties — sent a letter to state Senate president Mike Hardopolos, demanding that if Hays doesn’t apologize he should be removed from the redistricting committee

First, though, they need to find him under his own pile of cluelessness.

[Photo by myfloridahouse.gov]

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