Mel Martinez’s recent resignation from the U.S. Senate was for personal and family reasons. But the departure of the Republican Party’s most visible Hispanic leader crackles with political symbolism.

Martinez does not consider himself disillusioned, but he is “frustrated. There are lots of Hispanics to the right of you and me on immigration,” he told me, “but they think, `Republicans just don’t like us.’ ” Martinez makes clear that a number of his Senate colleagues were “conservative, but not inflammatory.” Other elected Republicans, however, made “pretty divisive use of immigration policy. It is more a matter of tone, of how you talk about immigrants. It has made Hispanics feel unwelcome, unwanted.”

In ethnic politics, symbolism matters.  To read the full story click here.

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