Luis Miranda Jr. Seeks Fair Representation for Latinos

Luis Miranda Jr. (Photo via Impacto Latino)

Luis A. Miranda Jr., the Puerto Rican political strategist who founded the Hispanic Federation, is now the board chair of the Latino Victory Project (LVP), a two-year-old organization based in Washington, D.C. that seeks to empower, give political clout to and secure prominent spaces for Latinos in the United States. The LVP was founded by actress Eva Longoria and Texas entrepreneur Henry R. Muñoz III.

A former special advisor for three New York City mayors, Miranda, in 2000, alongside Roberto Ramírez, founded MirRam Group, which played a key role in the successful Senate campaigns of Hillary Rodham Clinton, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand. At the end of 2017, Miranda stepped down from his executive position at MirRam Group to lead LVP full time.

The father of Lin-Manuel Miranda of “Hamilton” fame, he is currently the executive director of “¡Viva Broadway!” which aims to increase awareness of Broadway theater in the Latino community. In addition, he has been a central figure in the recent efforts to aid Puerto Rico by helping to collect over $30 million for the victims of Hurricane María. 

IMPACTO LATINO: What will be Latino Victory’s focus be under your tenure?

LUIS MIRANDA: Its main mission is to find Latino candidates with a progressive agenda and help them get elected. That involves the Latino Victory Fund helping identify candidates and offering them political assistance, providing them with financial aid, meaning that LVP can streamline the election of Latinos at all levels across the nation.

IL: How do you plan to unite Mexican-Americans, Cuban-Americans, Puerto Ricans and other Latino communities that are detached from each other?

LM: That is why it is important that the political platform, the public policies proposed by these candidates, are pro-Latino and progressive. You cannot have Democratic and Republican candidates. There are fewer and fewer Republican candidates like this because Trump has taken over their party and turned it into a sopa de mierda (shit soup). In the past, you had very good Republican candidates who believed in immigration, who believed in things Democrats also believe. It is about finding those candidates who have a pro-Hispanic agenda, but also a progressive one. We are not going to favor a candidate who wants Dreamers deported.

May 18 1993: Luis Miranda, as founder and first director of the Hispanic Federation, announces the first poll on the Hispanic community. (Photo from El Diario/La Prensa historical collection, Columbia University via Impacto Latino)

IL: Will you do anything about Dreamer youths, whose DACA expires in early March?

LM: As an organization, the Latino Victory Fund does not plan to push for legislation for Dreamers as part of its agenda except through the candidates that we support. We want to support candidates who are always in favor of Dreamers, who have real solutions benefiting Dreamers, and who, if they are in Congress, are clearly pushing for legislation to legitimize the situation of Dreamers here in the United States.

IL: The current administration has just published a draft of a bill that seeks to restrict federal aid for legal residents who may become citizens in the future  such as heating assistance, food stamps, etc. Is the LVF concerned about this?

LM: We are concerned about everything in the Trump administration because it already has an anti-immigrant – and, to a great extent, racist – platform. That does not mean that if the Trump administration wanted to do something progressive and pro-Latino we would reject it. However, we still have not seen what it is they are doing to benefit our community. For that reason, people who embrace Trump and “trumpism” cannot be pro-Hispanic and progressive. Because, at the moment, those two things are mutually exclusive.

IL: What will your political action focus on for the November election?

LM: Again, on looking for candidates at every level: the council, the boroughs, the assembly, the state senate, all the way to Congress and governors. We are seeking out candidates with a pro-Latino and progressive agenda.

IL: How do you plan to mobilize recently-arrived Puerto Ricans?

LM: First of all, when Puerto Rican migrants arrive in the United States, we – including me, when I arrived a million years ago – generally think that we are going back soon. So I think that, at this moment, nonprofit organizations and government agencies have the responsibility to help the Puerto Rican community manage and deal with their new environment. And let them decide if they will stay or go back; whether they will be here temporarily, while Puerto Rico recovers a bit, or settle here. I think that, while that process plays out, we need to help the Puerto Rican community understand the role of the federal government in the future of Puerto Rico and in the future assistance Puerto Ricans here and there will receive.

IL: Where are Puerto Ricans after Hurricane María?

LM: Puerto Rican migration has sped up in the last five months after the hurricane hit Puerto Rico, but it had been happening on a massive scale for the last two years as the situation on the island has worsened. So, we know that Florida has become the main axis of that migration. You normally go to the places where you have family and friends, and the nearest Puerto Rican migration in the last decade has been to Florida. But you also have many new Puerto Ricans in the U.S. who are moving to Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, Allentown), and to North Carolina, Atlanta…

Luis Miranda with his son Lin-Manuel when he turned 5. (Photo from family via Impacto Latino)

IL: Will Lin-Manuel, who has really become a celebrity, help you in this campaign?

LM: Lin-Manuel’s job has been to help collect resources for Puerto Rico and for the Puerto Rican communities here in the United States. Lin-Manuel’s campaigns are very clear, progressive above all else, and in favor of specific groups such as Dreamers, and advocating for Congress to provide aid to Puerto Rico. To do that, you talk to Democrats and Republicans, because you are trying to convince them to help groups that are dispossessed at the moment.

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