Politico caught up to Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) on Feb. 25 and the RMSP member -- a five-time Emmy Award-winning journalist -- didn't pull any punches, building on her encounter with Stephen Miller the day before at the Republican Study Group's weekly lunch meeting. Reporting by Politico's Sarah Ferris and Melanie Zanona.
Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Fla.) has a message for her party: “I am a brown girl from the ‘hood, who is a Republican, who is coming to tell my party that it’s time to wake up and smell the votes.”
“It's time for us to be sending the right message to the largest minority in the country. We are 20 percent of the population. We are 60 million people ...We are 30 million votes available,” Salazar told your Huddle host in an exclusive interview Thursday.
This is also the message she delivered behind closed doors to former Trump aide Stephen Miller during the Republican Study Committee’s weekly lunch meeting on Wednesday, which was focused on immigration. Salazar attended the event, but she is not a member of the RSC.
“I told him that the GOP needs to attract the browns,” said Salazar, a Cuban American. “We, for the last 30 years since Ronald Reagan, have not sent the right message to the browns,” she added. “Reagan was the last guy who gave a path to citizenship to 3 million people … 35 years ago. It’s time for us to do the same thing that Reagan did.”
Your Huddle host and Melanie Zanona scooped the details of Salazar’s exchange with Miller on Wednesday, in which she challenged him to explain how Republicans could broaden their coalition while enacting his preferred immigration policies.
Elaborating on the encounter on Thursday, she said that most Hispanics share the same values as Republicans: They’re God-fearing, law-abiding, tax-paying, family-oriented fans of small government.
“They want to live in dignity,” she said. “And that is what we have to give them. That’s what I said to Stephen Miller in front of 20 to 30 members from his study group. And I would say that the overwhelming majority of those members agreed with what I was saying, including Miller.”
Salazar stressed that she “absolutely” supports border security to keep out “bad people,” drugs and human trafficking — including child sex trafficking.
But she argued that the whole U.S. immigration system needs fixing, from the undocumented to the asylum process to the immigrant kids stuck in large orphanages rather than foster care. “We have to look at the whole enchilada.”
Salazar’s focus, she said, is on the undocumented immigrants who have been living in the U.S. for more than five years, have American children and have been paying taxes. “That’s what I’m concentrating on. We got to give them dignity — and I’m talking about legality. I am not talking about citizenship right now.”
Salazar plans to meet with Miller again soon to discuss her ideas in more detail. She noted he was “courteous” and “attentive” during their exchange.
COMING UP? While Salazar wouldn’t get into the granular details of which particular immigration policies she supports, she said she is “working on something very important” that she will share in the future.
As for Biden’s bill: “My concern is that this immigration bill that was presented by the Biden administration may never become law, and then once again the Browns will be left hanging. And that is what we need to avoid.”