The final Republican presidential debate before "Super Tuesday" wrapped up on Thursday night, and issues affecting the Latino electorate were addressed from the start.

Electability: Attracting Latino Voters

The GOP debate, which aired on CNN and Telemundo, includes two Latino presidential candidates -- Sen. Marco Rubio of Texas and Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, the latter of whom became the first Hispanic to win a major caucus or primary election, specifically the Iowa caucus last Feb. 1. Cruz was asked about the perception of not attracting the Latino electorate and instead engaging with Rubio on who has the tougher immigration stance and siding with the majority of Republican Party supporters.

Cruz acknowledged, that of the five remaining Republican presidential candidates on the primetime stage, two are the sons of Cuban immigrants and "it really is the embodiment of the incredible opportunity and promise this nation provides." The Texas senator added that there is a misconception that Hispanics are liberal but there are in fact Hispanics with Republican ideologies.

"[I]f you look at the values in the Hispanic community, the values in our community are faith, family, patriotism," said Cruz, adding the Obama-Clinton policies have done "enormous damage" in the Hispanic community.

Rubio echoed Cruz's comment on the diversity on the GOP debate, including African American Ben Carson. The Florida senator said the Republican Party is the true political party of diversity. He added that there is a need to move away from thinking Latinos only care about immigration. While immigration is an important topic, Rubio said "the most powerful sentiment in the Hispanic community, as it is in every immigrant community, is the burning desire to leave your children better off than yourself and you can only do that with free enterprise -- that's what we stand for, not socialism like Bernie Sanders and, increasingly, Hillary Clinton."

Immigration, Deportation & Deferred Action

Rubio defended his stance opposition President Barack Obama's immigration executive action, namely the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which has allowed select undocumented immigrant youths to stay in the U.S. with two-year renewable permits. Previously during an interview with Univision, prior to his presidential bid, Rubio said DACA would cease "at some point" but is now supporting to end the deferred action program on his first day in the White House.

Rubio explained the current DACA recipients will not be able to renew their permits nor will new applicants be allowed to apply.

"The problem with the executive order is it is unconstitutional. The president doesn't have the power to do that and he, himself, admitted that," Rubio said, later adding, "I am sympathetic to the plight of someone who came where when they were two or three years old through no fault of their own but you can't solve it by doing something that's unconstitutional no matter how sympathetic we may be to a cause we cannot violate the Constitution of th united states as this president does on a daily basis."

Current front-runner Donald Trump defended his mass deportation proposal, which will affect more than 11 million immigrants currently living in the U.S. Trump said the deportees, namely the "good ones," will have the opportunity to return to the U.S. by applying through the standard legal immigration process.

Trump also responded to former Mexico President Vincente Fox's remarks about the proposed wall between the U.S. and Mexico, that the Republican businessman insist Mexico will pay. Fox, during another interview, said he's "not going to pay for that f***ing wall."

"I will [have Mexico pay] and the wall just got 10-feet taller," said Trump, adding that Fox should apologize for using an obscenity on television.

"It's a small portion of the kind of money we lose and deficits we have with Mexico," Trump later said, stating the 1,000-mile wall would cost between $10 billion and $20 billion, much less compared to $200 billion if the project was handled by Rubio and Cruz.

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's financial crisis was addressed to only Rubio. The commonwealth, with residents who are also U.S. citizens are facing a $72 billion debt crisis, and leaders have called on Congress to allow Puerto Rico to receive the same bankruptcy protection laws as mainland U.S. states. Rubio disagrees with their pleas.

Rubio explained using the U.S. bankruptcy laws should only be used as a "last resort." He said the commonwealth's economy isn't growing, recognizing the "massive" exodus of professionals from Puerto Rico to the mainland U.S and high tax rates and cost of living.

"The leadership on the island has to show their willingness to get their house in order and put in place measures that allow the economy there to grow again. If the economy in Puerto Rico does not grow, they will generate the revenue to pay this debt or the billions of unfunded liabilities that they have on their books of promises they've made future generations to make payments," said Rubio, once again stating they may receive the similar bankruptcy laws but as a last resort.


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