Photo: Steve Montenegro, Arizona's Republican state legislator
The ever increasing demographic of Hispanic Republicans appears to have a rising star in 29-year-old Steve Montenegro, a state legislator in Surprise, Arizona.
The Salvadoran immigrant has garnered both commendation and criticism from Latino voters. While conservative Latinos praise him for coming to the U.S. legally, other Latinos disapprove of his support of Arizona’s SB 1070, which made undocumented immigration a state crime.
The young politician is only the latest Latino to be groomed by the Republican party as it believes more in the Latino community are leaning right these days.
Montenegro joins New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez and Florida Senator Marco Rubio on the list of conservative Hispanics. And recently, Sen. Rubio has been in the news as a possible candidate for vice president, though for now he is denying it is his intent.
As for Montenegro, he believes it is God’s will that he serve both his church and his country as a conservative politician.
“My calling is to serve. I’m a minister and I’m called to serve in that,” he told New America Media. “But I’m also…I believe with all my heart, that I’ve been called to serve the conservative, the cause of freedom.”
Montenegro’s family moved to California when he was four years old, and would live in Colorado, Michigan, and even Canada before they settled in Arizona, and his father became a pastor at a church in Surprise.
He says he was taught at an early age that to be a true American, assimilation was necessary. So he learned English in kindergarten and his parents made sure he was not just a Salvadoran in America.
“Being an American to them, it wasn’t about segregating,” he said. “They didn’t embed in me, ‘You are brown, you have to be this way.’ No, they embedded, ‘You’re a child of God, you are a student, you have to be the best. El mejor hijo de Dios’ (the best son of God).”