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Robert F. Kennedy Jr. pitches robust immigration insurance policies to LA Latinos – Orange County Register

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. introduced his longshot 2024 presidential marketing campaign to Los Angeles on Friday, Sept. 15, looking for help from California’s huge base of Latino voters eager for options to the nation’s immigration woes however amid a cautious eye from many in his personal social gathering – Democrats – who say his coverage imaginative and prescient aligns extra with the harshest critics of the Biden administration.

On one hand, the occasion — pegged on the primary day of Hispanic Heritage Month and fewer than two miles from the positioning the place his father, Robert F. Kennedy, was killed practically 60 years in the past whereas working for president  — had the markings of the type of help Kennedy Jr.’s uncle, John, the late president, or his father, may need needed.

A mariachi group and folklórico dancers opened the marketing campaign cease on the Wilshire Ebell Theater in Los Angeles, the place greater than 300 folks have been gathered to listen to Kennedy Jr. converse.

On one degree, the scene conjured up a historical past of decades-old alliances between the Kennedy household and Latinos, cast within the wrestle for farmworker rights. On the opposite, this was a Kennedy marketing campaign descending on a solidly blue state with a message usually bucking his personal social gathering and the president who leads it.

On immigration, Kennedy Jr. echoes many conservatives’ views on what’s seen as a “border disaster,” during which “ruthless felony cartels” have made medication and human smuggling what he says is a multibillion-dollar enterprise, in line with his web site. He blames fellow Democrat and his opponent, Biden, and present border enforcement guidelines for escalating the scenario.

“We’d like extensive partitions, but additionally we’d like extensive gates,” Kennedy Jr. mentioned on Friday. “Mexican drug cartels are working our U.S. immigration system now… we have to work with Mexico as an alternative of alienating them.”

It’s a message that resonates with many who lean to the proper on the difficulty. However he tempered the rhetoric with what he mentioned is his “humanitarian” strategy, in comparison with proposed border insurance policies he sees as grounded in xenophobia and bigotry.

“What I’m going to do as president, I’m going to safe the border,” he mentioned in remarks, simply after a exhibiting of “Midnight on the Border,” a documentary on Kennedy Jr.’s go to to the Arizona-California border with Mexico. “And I’m going to make a neater, quicker, simplified path to citizenship for people who find themselves right here illegally.”

He mentioned that appointing “extra environment friendly” asylum court docket judges are wanted to adjudicate instances on the border “on the day that immigrants present up, earlier than they achieve entry to our nation.”

Kennedy Jr.’s candidacy has positively caught the eye of these outdoors the Democratic Occasion, who discover strains of his politics enticing.

As soon as identified for his work as an environmental lawyer, Kennedy Jr., 69, rose to prominence in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic due to an ardent opposition to vaccines. Whereas he has pushed again on the “anti-vax” label, an AP investigation in 2021 reported that he had linked up with anti-democratic figures and different teams over the difficulty.

Kennedy Jr.’s speeches on the marketing campaign path have pushed ahead a type of twin political persona: a candidate within the mould of a real Democratic custom — comparable to his father and uncle, but additionally a monitor file of GOP help for his views on vaccines, immigration and different points. Even main Republican donors and PACs have donated to assist bankroll Kennedy Jr.’s bid for the White Home.

In the end, underpinning his stance on the Biden administration is what, when launching his marketing campaign in April, Kennedy Jr. known as his mission: “to finish the corrupt merger of state and company energy that’s threatening now to impose a brand new type of company feudalism in our nation.”

Each immigration advocates and Latino group leaders — together with former Border Patrol Chief Chris Clem, and Catholic Bishop Juan Carlos Mendez — have been current to help Kennedy Jr.

Mendez, the founding father of Church buildings for Motion, gave an invocation earlier than Kennedy Jr. took the stage.“We’re dwelling in some loopy occasions; we’d like good management within the White Home,” the bishop prayed. “We should decide to bringing legislation and order, restore justice for victims.”

Retired information anchor Bob Jimenez, one of many occasion emcees, honored the Hispanic Heritage Month event. “Heritage means we’re passing on who we’re to the following era of Latinos,” Jimenez mentioned. “What we cross on is our power to maintain democracy robust.”

Political pundits and Latino leaders imagine Kennedy Jr.’s campaigning in L.A. appears to be a part of a technique to get extra Latino voters, who make up the second-largest voting bloc within the U.S., on his aspect.

“If he was going to kick off Latino Heritage Month, it could make sense for him to do it at house in a metropolis that’s nearly half Latino. Nevertheless it’s additionally type of ironic,” mentioned Jaime Regalado, an emeritus professor of political science at Cal State Los Angeles, declaring the “love affair and fascination of Latino communities with the Kennedy household,” going all the way in which again to John F. Kennedy’s presidential run.

Regalado famous the Kennedy brothers’ efforts to impress the Latino vote: Viva Kennedy golf equipment turned huge within the southwest, throughout California. Latino communities have been drawn to JFK’s Catholic background, charisma and — on the time — extra progressive insurance policies, even in then-mostly-Republican California. It was an “anomaly” on the time, Regalado mentioned.

There was a notable “shift within the (Kennedys’) political make-up,” from reasonable to extra liberal and progressive Democrats, Regalado mentioned. He recalled how each Robert Kennedy Sr. and U.S. Sen. Edward “Ted” Kennedy have been thought of by some to be “champions of employees” and “those that have been victimized by society, Latinos amongst them.”

However, with flashy marketing campaign occasions in L.A., Kennedy Jr. is “courting” the Latino vote, Regalado mentioned. “I believe he feels it could help the wind blowing in his again.”

The fervor of the earlier “Viva Kennedy” period, nevertheless, is just not there.

“The irony is that not solely is (Robert Kennedy Jr.) nonetheless a Kennedy in L.A., however he’s a really completely different type of Kennedy in L.A. — one basking within the help of some disgruntled Democratic voters who’re nonetheless charmed by the Kennedy identify, regardless of the politics,” Regalado continued. “However on the Republican aspect, you’re getting a type of champion of a number of the tradition wars.”

Nonetheless, an anti-establishment pressure is attracting many who see authorities regulation, pandemic-era authorities public well being directives and normal political gridlock as tiring.

Kennedy Jr.’s L.A. go to Friday drew each supporters and open-minded Latino voters, together with Ricardo Beas, an unbiased who got here to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 12.

“We’re within the restaurant enterprise and that’s why I need to remember if (Kennedy Jr.) is the proper candidate. I’m taken with his small enterprise coverage,” he mentioned. “I would like much less laws.”

Retired veteran Steve Futterman, an everyday volunteer and donor, that is his third Kennedy Jr. marketing campaign occasion.

The 67-year-old mentioned he tends to be “extra conservative” on sure points, and isn’t a Democrat.

“I like his anti-war stances and safety of the First Modification… he’s the one one that might converse rationally and has an precise agency coverage selections, in contrast to some other candidate that I’ve ever seen,” Futterman mentioned. “I belief him in that although I would disagree with him, he’s prepared to pay attention.”

Noting the pro-life views of many Latino Catholics, Kennedy Jr. mentioned Friday he believes “each abortion is a tragedy … I’ve fought my whole life for medical freedom… we must always not have bureaucrats making that call.”

The anti-establishment strains in Kennedy’s Jr. imaginative and prescient — from his Biden critiques to his vaccination stances — is just not misplaced on Mimi Robson, speedy previous chair of the Libertarian Occasion of California.

Kennedy Jr.’s coverage imaginative and prescient resonates with some Libertarians, who strongly opposed authorities intervention in private freedoms and enterprise.

“I like numerous what he has to say on these points,” Robson mentioned, noting Kennedy Jr.’s latest look at FreedomFest, a Libertarian convention. “I do assume it resonates with folks. He brings good dialogue factors. A distinct perspective than what different Democrats deliver. I believe that’s a optimistic.”

“I do know libertarians who discover his message intriguing,” she mentioned. “There’s positively an viewers right here for what he has to say.”

Richard Sherman, previous chair of the Los Angeles County GOP, mentioned that Kennedy Jr. stands out in a solidly blue California exactly as a result of he says “what many Democrats received’t.”

“I believe Kennedy appeals to some Republicans as a result of he’s not afraid to say what he thinks,” Sherman mentioned, including he’s among the many few Democratic candidates really difficult Biden.

He added that although his beliefs are considerably “paradoxical” — there’s a sure “Trump-ism happening with Kennedy… it’s ironic you can even evaluate the 2 as a result of they’re so completely different.”

However whereas there are pockets of help for Kennedy Jr., some Latino group leaders have been cautious of Kennedy Jr. and others promising stronger immigration insurance policies.

Jose Barrera, vp for the Far West for the League of United Latin American Residents, is amongst them.

He mentioned that Latino voters “are taking note of (candidates) who suggest actual options for immigration reform.”

“With the latest DACA ruling, the Latino citizens is gearing as much as put stress on the candidates to repair our damaged programs. If Kennedy is trying to come to L.A. unprepared to talk on the robust points we’re going through, he’s definitely going to have a tough time within the primaries,” Barrera mentioned.

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