Lubbock’s Abraham Enriquez and his mom, Betty Cardenas, have conservative vision for America’s Hispanics

Abraham Enriquez of Lubbock, Texas

Abraham Enriquez, courtesy photo

Abraham Enriquez and his mother, Betty Cardenas, believe Hispanics in America are inherently conservative and the two are spreading their message aiming to contradict Hispanics’ historic ties to the Democratic party.

Mother and son grew up in Lubbock, both graduated from Monterey High School and still call Lubbock home.

Abraham Enriquez from Lubbock, Texas
Abraham Enriquez, courtesy photo

“If you believe America is a good country, if you believe America is worth protecting and securing, if you believe in limited government and free enterprise, that government should be small and protecting family – those to me are Hispanic values,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez created Bienvenido in 2019, an outreach organization preaching conservative values. Heading into this election year, the group is focusing on winning five heavily Hispanic counties in south Texas, Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania – part of the 19 counties they see playing a decisive role in November.

Enriquez also makes several appearances – speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference and being interviewed on Fox News and other media. Cardenas joined her son’s organization shortly after Bienvenido began and recruits candidates for the key races the group identifies.

Margaret Ceja, chair of Lubbock’s Democratic party, not surprisingly, disagrees with Enriquez and Cardenas. To her, the Democratic party represents the working class and helping others, she said, through issues like healthcare and the right for a woman to choose to have an abortion.

“Just because you got a little money in your pocket, just because you become a millionaire, does not mean you cannot give back. You should always give back and that’s what the Democratic party wants for America. We want everyone to have an equal opportunity to care about others,” Ceja said.

Genesis of Bienvenido

Religion and her families’ values growing up are the core of Bienvenido, Cardenas said.

“I was raised in a Christian family, where we can trust God, where we know that our life is in His hands. And we were taught that America and God are one road, and they can’t be separated,” Cardenas said.

Cardenas realized she could make an impact at a very young age. It started with activism for women and rallying for pro-life causes after experiences she had as a single mother, she said.

Her pro-life activism led her to volunteer on Donald Trump’s campaign team during the 2016 election, she said. She became his Hispanic representative in Texas and after Trump won, she reached out to the Republican party asking how she could help with Hispanic outreach for them.

Not having a specific organization for Hispanic outreach, she decided to run for chairwoman of the Republic National Hispanic Assembly and became their nationwide representative for Hispanic outreach, she said.

Soon, she started getting calls from the White House. The president wanted a non-partisan organization specifically for Republican Hispanic outreach.

From there, Cardenas joined her son’s organization.

Enriquez graduated from Abilene Christian University in 2018. After failing to find a Hispanic outreach organization with his values, he decided to begin his own and began working on Bienvenido.

“There are hundreds of Hispanic organizations … involved in civic participation. Unfortunately, all of them have skewed extremely left, meaning you have to embrace open-border policies, you have to embrace this thing called Latinx which … was started by white liberals in California,” Enriquez said.

Historically Democratic

Hispanics have historically voted Democrat due to their family ties – their grandparents voted that way, Enriquez said. Just a couple of years ago, the Democratic party shared many Hispanic values, including securing borders, protecting life and traditional marriage.

“Even Hillary Clinton, in 2016, ran on this idea of securing the border and protecting family values,” Enriquez said. “Now with the Democrat party switching a little more to the left, Hispanics have really found themselves a little homeless in sense of political terms.”

Media influence both ways

Hispanics get news in Spanish and English and there are stark differences in how that shapes their views, Enriquez claims.

“Polling shows that Hispanics who get most of their news in Spanish still have a 30-point loyalty to liberal and leftist causes,” he said.

Betty Cardenas of Lubbock, Texas
Betty Cardenas, courtesy photo

Hispanics who mostly speak English or get their news from English-language media are assimilating more to American culture and becoming more conservative, Enriquez said.

“Spanish media would tell Hispanics, that the biggest threat to their lives is climate change and the protection of democracy. English news will tell you we have a four-decade high inflation, that’s the reason … Mom and Dad can’t put food on the table and have a full gas tank,” he said.

Bienvenido’s biggest detractors, he said, are not open-minded about opposing views.

“My favorite people to talk to are people who think they’re Democrat,” he said.

His favorite channels to appear on are CNN, Espanol, Telemundo, ABC or MSNBC.

“Every single time I (appear) on those channels, our subscriber list goes up by a good eight to 10 percentage points of people who have never heard from someone who looks like them, sounds like them is, from the same culture, having a different talking point than Republicans are racist,” Enriquez said.

He doesn’t win everyone over.

“There are people who genuinely believe in leftist ideology and you won’t be able to switch them over,” Enriquez said. “There’re some people who have created a world around themselves that allows them to believe in what they believe. Rather you live in L.A., New York City or Chicago, you’re not exposed to the everyday lifestyle (of) people … in West Texas or middle America.”

Independent research

An April New York Times/Siena College poll showed Hispanic support for Republicans has risen:

  • In 2012, 29 percent of Hispanics planned to vote Republican for president, while 69 percent planned to vote Democrat.
  • This year, 39 percent planned to vote Republican for president, 52 percent for Democrats.

Then there’s a study done earlier this year by the Pew Research Center, addressing how Hispanics consume news.

  • 54 percent of Hispanic Americans get their news in English.
  • 21 percent get their news in Spanish.
  • 23 percent said they consume both.

Other Pew study findings:

  • Hispanics born outside of the U.S. had a higher rate of Spanish news consumption with 41 percent consuming Spanish media.
  • News consumption depends highly on whether they are Spanish dominant or English dominant. The study showed 55 percent of bilingual Hispanics in the U.S. consume English outlets while only 9 percent consume Spanish outlets and 34 percent consume both.
  • 69 percent of Hispanic immigrants said they sometimes get their news from Hispanics news outlets while only a third said they get their news from English media.
  • 57 percent of lower-income Hispanic adults get their news from Hispanic media while only 29 percent of upper-income Hispanics get their news from those sources.

Bienvenido’s plans to leverage voting

With Hispanics now being the majority minority in America, Cardenas said Hispanics are the future of America and it’s important to educate them now.

“I believe that our 34 million who are registered to vote, we can decide elections here. That’s how powerful we are,” she said.

More specifically, her son said, they focus educating Hispanics on which candidates best share the values Hispanic households have.

Abraham Enriquez, cofounder of Bienvenido, at CPAC
Abraham Enriquez at CPAC, courtesy photo

“We’re building this army of educated, sophisticated Hispanic voters who know that every election cycle, you have got to go out there and you have got to vote for people who are going to protect this city, and then we’re going to protect the way this nation goes,” he said.

“If you get 40 percent of the Hispanic vote total in the nation, that’s enough to sway the election that single night,” Enriquez said.

Growing Bienvenido uses social media influencers, prayer and community outings, he said. Growth nationally has come through coalition building and listening to others, he added.

“We are very proud to be an organization that brings in dozens of other organizations (that) have been doing this way longer than us. We just do their Hispanic outreach … and we educate them about what the Hispanic values are, which are American values,” Enriquez said.

Enriquez still believes the most impact is to be had here in Lubbock. “You can’t win the White House without winning Texas and you can’t win Texas without winning West Texas,” Enriquez said.

“Lubbock, Texas, is such a muscle, not just in our in our own demographic, not only in our own state, but on the national level. It is truly honoring and humbling being able to travel all over the country …  that it all started because my city here in Lubbock gave me the support and the resources to be able to do it,” Enriquez said.

The Democratic viewpoint

Ceja, Lubbock’s head Democrat, disagrees with Bienvenido’s beliefs.

English media doesn’t necessarily persuade Hispanics into being conservative, she said.

“I think the more languages you speak the better, English or Spanish. I think we are more progressive than we are conservative. A lot of times we’re not as expressive about it but I think as the population becomes more and more educated, we’ll go toward being more open,” Ceja said.

Duane Nellis and Margaret Ceja in Lubbock, Texas
Duane Nellis, former Texas Tech President (left) and Margaret Ceja (right)

Progressive thinking is something taught by their parents and seen throughout their childhood, she said.

“Your parents are the ones who bring that political socialization into your being when you are small. They let you know how important it is to vote, how important it is to have your rights, how important it is to not just follow in line,” she said, specifically mentioning former President Trump.

“It’s very rude the way he behaves and if the whole country was to behave like that we would be in a lot of trouble. We can’t follow that type of behavior at all,” Ceja said.

Ceja emphasized the importance of health insurance and how the Democratic party has been very beneficial in helping provide for Hispanics.

“Without Obamacare, a lot of us would have been devastated. My daughter had been diagnosed with Lupus right after she got out of college and that allowed me to keep her on my insurance until she got full-time work. Without that, that could cost a lot of money,” Ceja said.

“It made us feel really good when Obama got in office. That was a wonderful saving opportunity for many Americans, especially if someone has a pre-existing diagnosis, they will not be penalized. That’s what Democrats represent,” she said.

That includes being pro-choice.

“We should definitely allow women to have choice because that’s also a set back … it’s just a human set back. When you set back women, you set back America and you can’t set us back,” Ceja said.

Ceja believes Hispanics will continue to vote Democratic if they continue to educate, spread awareness and get voters out there – like Enriquez and Cardenas feel about their beliefs.

“I hope that we’re going to see us voting just like the Mexicans from California. They vote for the Democratic party because they know they don’t lose their culture, no one’s scaring them. In Texas they have a tendency trying to scare and mislead and lie to people. It’s up to the Democratic party to raise money and inform the Mexican Americans in Texas what is going on,” Ceja said.

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Author: Caleb Kostencki