Getting Out the Latino Vote in the November Elections

A poll released on October 5th shows that while Democratic-leaning Latinos are not likely to vote with the Republican Party this November, they are also so disappointed with the current political climate that many of them might not participate in the upcoming elections at all (( New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/06/us/politics/06immig.html?_r=3&pagewanted=2)). According to the Pew Hispanic Center poll, only 51 percent of the Latino population who are registered to vote stated that they will go to the polls, compared to 70 percent of all registered voters in the U.S. (( Pew Hispanic:  http://pewhispanic.org/reports/report.php?ReportID=127)) While Latinos continue to vote largely with the Democratic Party, it seems that this year they are disenchanted with the White House’s enforcement and stance on immigration reform.

Immigration enforcement and the hope of comprehensive immigration reform have, compared to the Bush administration, worsened under President Obama ((Marcelo Ballvé, http://www.southernstudies.org/2010/03/immigrant-advocates-say-immigration-enforcement-worse-under-obama.html)). Immigration reform advocates point out that increased enforcement, rather than working towards a solution to fixing our broken immigration system, has had detrimental impacts on local economies, communities, and families throughout the country. It is not a surprise that the Latino community might not want to come out to vote in the upcoming elections due to the simmering immigration debate which has released plenty of angry, racist, and anti-immigrant sentiments and legislation like Arizona SB 1070 across the country.

As these ugly and flamboyant anti-immigrant attitudes persist, immigrant rights groups are working to reframe the debate around immigration, ethnic politics, and the upcoming elections. During the weekend of October 15th and 16th, organizations throughout the country are launching a “weekend of immigrant Get Out The Vote action.” These actions will counter the narrative that immigrants and the Latino community will not be coming out to vote on Election Day, instead showing that they will come out and make their voices heard. It is crucial to counter the “Latinos won’t be voting” story because there is a fear that when the mainstream media spreads this idea, it could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the notion that Latinos will not be coming out to the polls is instilled in the public mind, it may other discourage Latino voters from exercising their rights.

In addition to the GOTV activities, advocates are currently reorganizing themselves to continue the fight for fair and just immigration reform. A few weeks ago, Senator Menendez from New Jersey introduced an important immigration bill that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. The Fair Immigration Reform Movement coalition, of which NWFCO is a member, is encouraging community leaders and organizations to support this legislation. In the next few weeks, NWFCO and FIRM will be gathering letters of support for the Menendez bill. NWFCO will continue to push these efforts forward in order to reaffirm and strenghthen the already widely-acknowledged voting power that immigrants and Latinos have in this country.

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