Recently Politic365 had a chance to speak with Tony Carlos, a GOP candidate for Congress in California’s 3rd Congressional District. Carlos’s candidacy as a Republican candidate is unique because the number one issue that he’s promoting front and center is immigration – at a time when many Republicans are ratcheting up their rhetoric on the topic.
Tony Carlos is a California native who lives in the Yuba-Sutter area and currently works as a Deputy District Attorney in Sutter County. His family has been in the country for a few generations, as his grandparents migrated to the US from Zacatecas, Mexico. His grandfather and great-uncles served the US in World War II, and Carlos’s uncles fought in Vietnam. This typical story of Latinos assimilating into American life is highlighted prominently on Carlos’s campaign website. The story of hard work, family, and service to country is one that Carlos believes appeals to the newer wave of Latino immigrants and should appeal to members of the Republican Party.
This narrative of service and commitment to family is one that Tony Carlos has embraced personally. At the age of 13, he started working in his family’s restaurant washing dishes. He put himself through college and law school dealing poker up and down the state. And in his current position as a prosecutor in Sutter County, he enforces state criminal statutes and interprets the law.
The current tone of the immigration debate within the GOP is what has inspired Carlos to run for Congress. During the 2010 California gubernatorial race, he interned with one of the GOP candidates and became troubled by their tone in addressing the immigration issue. Carlos explained, “The reason I’m running for Congress is that the GOP’s rhetoric and policy solutions have become so bad on immigration. The national GOP can get away with it for a bit longer, but more locally in California, they can’t get away with what they say and what they are proposing. The way that a lot of Republicans throw around the terms ‘anchor baby’ and ‘illegal’ is troubling.”
Carlos cited the growing Latino population in California and the Democrats’ ability to perform well up and down the state in 2010 as a reason why the GOP should be concerned – even though on some social issues the Republican Party might be a better fit for many Latinos.
American exceptionalism is a big attraction for new immigrants according to Carlos, and he explains that this concept of America’s greatness cannot be diminished. He reasons that the main reason immigrants, undocumented or otherwise, come to the US is to work and to make a better life for their families, not to collect public assistance as some in his party imply. The free market and sense of order and the enforcement of laws make the US unique for people wanting more opportunities for themselves and their families.
The DREAM Act, which would have provided a path toward legalization for undocumented youth who complete college or military service, is a policy that Carlos thinks the GOP should have not strayed from. When the federal DREAM Act was first introduced, it was solidly a bi-partisan effort.
When asked about President Obama’s record breaking deportation efforts and the effect it is having on families, Carlos is vexed. “The current policies are breaking up families, and it’s heartless. These people are here with an almost implied consent,” argues the first-time Congressional candidate. “We know that they are here; their employers want them here. To deport someone for running a red light who is working and contributing to the economy doesn’t make sense, especially if that person is a parent of a citizen child.” Carlos also added that deporting parents does not align with the traditional GOP concept of family values.
Tony Carlos realizes that he has an uphill climb with his candidacy especially since he’s focusing on an issue that puts him at odds with many in his party. Plus, he’s not as seasoned in the political sphere as his GOP primary opponent Kim Vann. But he’s determined to forge ahead.
When asked about GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s recent call for a more “humane” immigration policy, Carlos offered this: “I am surprised and encouraged to hear one of the Republican presidential candidates – one who is leading in the polls at that – take an objective and honest approach to the broken immigration system. Substantively, it is a good start. However, to say that a hard working family that has been in the US for over 20 years should not be broken up and deported is just that, a start.”
Expect to hear more from Tony Carlos as campaign season heats up going into 2012 because of his stance on immigration, his candidacy as a Latino Republican, and the general buzz about the Latino electorate.