EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas, has been elected co-chair of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, a group of GOP lawmakers focused on issues impacting Hispanic Americans.

The West Texas congressman whose district includes Far East and portions of Northeast El Paso, will lead the panel along with U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Florida. The group’s membership is geographically diverse, with members from the South, West and Northeast.

Democrats have a similar organization called Congressional Hispanic Caucus. El Paso’s U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, sits on that one.

“As the nation’s largest minority, Hispanics deserve a strong vote and voice in Congress. Hispanics play a vital role in our democracy and must be actively engaged in critical issues facing our nation,” Gonzales said. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the conference to promote the interests of Hispanic communities across the country and fighting for values like small government, economic opportunity, and individual liberty.”

The group’s tenet on immigration is that America is a nation of immigrants, built by immigrants, but also a nation of laws.

Diaz-Balart said everyone is affected by bad government policies and the group will watch out for their interests.

“The rise in representation of minorities, including Hispanics, among Republicans in Congress proves that Americans are fed up with irresponsible Democrat policies that have led to skyrocketing inflation, record gas prices, and an unprecedented border crisis,” Diaz-Balart said. “As a conference, I look forward to working together to advance the priorities and values of our constituents and working on real solutions for the American people.”

Other conference members include U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Florida, and U.S. Rep. Monica De La Cruz, R-Texas.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus was founded in 1976 as a bipartisan body, but Republicans left in the 1990s over policy differences. The Congressional Hispanic Conference came to be in 2003.

This is the largest class of members for both the Congressional Hispanic Conference as well as the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, whose chair is U.S. Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-California. U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, D-New Mexico, is vice chair of Diversity and Inclusion for the Democrats’ panel.