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Capital Hill's Latinos Voice Their Concerns Over War

Sanchez has reservations over war

By Bill Hillburg, Staff Writer

February 28, 2003
Copyright © 2003
WHITTIER DAILY NEWS. All rights reserved. 

WASHINGTON -- Citing the lack of an exit strategy and the need for more diplomacy, Rep. Linda Sanchez, D-Lakewood, said Tuesday she would have voted last fall against a measure that authorized President George W. Bush to use force against Iraq.

Both Latino diversity and disunity were in evidence as Sanchez joined four other House freshmen for a "Hispanic Newsmakers' conference at the National Press Club.

"Should we go to war, I will support our president,' said Sanchez. "But I worry that the disproportionate brunt of injury and death will be borne by Latinos and African Americans. And I haven't seen any exit strategy for our involvement in Iraq.'

She was joined in opposition to an attack on Iraq by Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. He also expressed dismay that many Latino and African-American lawmakers, including all those from Southern California, have had their patriotism questioned since they voted last year to oppose the authorization measure.

Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, who last year ousted scandal- plagued Rep. Gary Condit in the Democratic primary, said he backs Bush and cited administration officials' full disclosure of war aims and risks to House members. Cardoza was joined in supporting Bush by by Reps. Devin Nunes, R-Tulare, and Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla.

After touting common goals, immigrant ancestors and diverse backgrounds Sanchez and Grijalva have roots in Mexico, Nunes and Cardoza in Portugal's Azores Islands and Diaz- Balart in Cuba the new House members aired their differences.

Diaz-Balart and Nunes said they would not join the 19-member, all-Democratic Hispanic Congressional Caucus. They and three other Republicans have formed a new group called the Congressional Hispanic Conference. Sanchez, Grijalva and Cardoza have all aligned with the caucus.

"I don't call myself a Latino, I'm Hispanic,' stressed Cardoza, who recalled with some bitterness that, as a member of the state Assembly, he was not allowed to join the Latino Caucus because he was of Portuguese- speaking, Azorean ancestry. Both he and Nunes expressed pride in their roots, which are shared locally by many residents of the Artesia and Paramount areas.

Sanchez, still fielding questions about her historic sister act with Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D- Santa Ana, pointed out that Mario Diaz-Balart and his brother, Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., are also sibling solons.

"We're thinking of challenging the Diaz-Balart brothers to a tag-team wrestling match to raise money for charity,' she quipped.

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