Maria Elvira Salazar
When Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar ran for reelection last year, she won by 15 percentage points. Twitter/@MaElviraSalazar

In the area of Miami that encompasses Little Havana, more than half of the population is foreign-born. And last year, Republican U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar gained reelection with a 15-percentage point margin.

The GOP's dominance of Florida's 27th congressional district is emblematic of the party's inroads with Latino voters in recent years in much of the U.S. and especially in Florida.

The gains made last year enabled Gov. Ron DeSantis to win reelection with ease and helped the Republicans regain control of the U.S. House.

However, the Republicans in Washington, who now feel more confident, are attempting to advance an aggressive agenda, especially regarding immigration policy, and this is causing some tension.

Salazar is one of a few Republicans opposing a comprehensive plan being discussed in the House that would limit asylum at the border between the United States and Mexico, AP News reported.

"We understand that immigrants want to come and live in the promised land," Salazar said in a recent interview. "Orderly legal immigration is good for the country and good for District 27."

The measure has been dubbed "anti-immigrant" by Texas Republican Rep. Tony Gonzales, a Mexican American whose district spans a significant portion of the U.S.-Mexico border from El Paso to San Antonio.

The GOP faces a struggle as a result of the dissension. Expanding the party's appeal beyond an aging, predominately white base of support may be crucial to its survival.

The party's future may well depend on broadening its appeal beyond an aging, predominantly white base of support.

And while some conservative Latinos support hard-liner immigration policies, there's a risk that the GOP could repel other persuadable Latinos by moving too far to the right on the issue.

On this front, Democrats also face political difficulties. The Biden administration recently put forth a proposal that would severely restrict the ability to seek asylum, arguing that surging numbers of migrants left them little choice.

The push will almost certainly be challenged in court and has prompted criticism from progressives.

A third of Latino voters back Republicans, many of whom share the party's conservative stances on immigration and other issues.

In general, only about a third of Latino voters supported stepping up border security, while a majority (two-thirds) opposed it. The majority of people said President Joe Biden was managing border security poorly.

The majority of Latino voters who voted Republican disagreed with Biden on border security and backed stricter border enforcement.

The former president Donald Trump, who is running for president once more, may have provided Republicans with some guidance on how to handle the immigration issues. Trump supported tightening asylum regulations both during his prior campaigns and while in office.

But he also mentioned tightening border control and erecting a wall. None of his actions cost him Latino support during his two elections.

Geraldo Cadava, a professor of history and Latino studies at Northwestern University and author of "The Hispanic Republican: The Shaping of an American Political Identity, from Nixon to Trump" said, "Many conservatives felt emboldened by Trump's performance, by the idea that a Republican could be both anti-immigrant and win Latino voters."

The immigration measure put forth by Texas Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy would mandate that American officials automatically detain or ban asylum seekers while their requests are being evaluated.

Currently, notices requiring asylum applicants to appear in court and defend their claims can be used to release them. If there is no "operational control" at the U.S.-Mexico border, the measure also gives immigration officials in the United States the authority to forbid all migrants from entering.

Last week, Roy wrote to his GOP counterparts to request their support for the legislation. He claimed in an interview that he thought Gonzales and Salazar's criticism of the measure was "absurd."

"A few of my Republican colleagues prefer to be fiddling while America burns," Roy said. "Republicans are going to have to put their money where their mouth is."

Salazar, who was backed by Trump and DeSantis, said she and colleagues are simply working together to make sure the proposal does not violate any laws governing asylum.

"The formula hasn't changed," Salazar said. "We want the Albert Einsteins of the world to come and work for us and continue to make this economy strong."

"I do know that my district appreciates what I am saying," Salazar said. She claimed that her district is particularly concerned about this problem.

Cubans are fleeing their homes in the largest numbers in six decades to escape economic and political turmoil. Most fly to Nicaragua as tourists and slowly make their way to the U.S. via Mexico.

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