By any measure the numbers are there if we vote. Arizona’s changing demographics, as well as efforts to register and mobilize Latino voters in the wake of the draconian anti-immigrant SB 1070 bill and in the years following, could be helping to push the state from red to purple. Latino voters in Arizona have shown that they are willing to fight back at the ballot box against attacks on our communities. Consider this: In the 2008 election, Latino voters cast less than 12 percent of the ballots in the state. After SB 1070 was signed into law in 2010, that number shot up to almost 19 percent. The state’s Latino electorate has only grown since then, and with Trump’s anti-immigrant hate at the top of the Republican ticket, there’s plenty of reasons to show up at the polls again this year. Latino communities here in Arizona may be on the cusp of turning the tide and realizing the kind of political power we envisioned in that 1972 meeting.
Those who say it can’t be done only need to look next door to the example of California. It was never easy there, and vested interests against us were strong. In the 1994 California governor’s race, Pete Wilson campaigned on a horrific anti-immigrant measure, Proposition 187, that prevented undocumented immigrants from accessing essential services like health care and education. Even though Wilson and Prop 187 won at the ballot box that year, the GOP’s anti-immigrant hate set off a transformation of the state’s politics, with Latino political participation skyrocketing and the state ultimately shifting from red to blue. The lesson? If you push anti-immigrant and anti-Latino policies—if you push exclusion and division—and if we simply vote, you will lose out, in a big way.
It’s a lesson that Republicans don’t seem to have learned. Donald Trump has taken every opportunity to smear Latino communities, from peddling damaging stereotypes to questioning the ability of a federal judge to do his job simply because of his heritage. He is pushing his own anti-immigrant agenda and demonizing an entire community of people. And Republicans across the country are falling in line with his extreme agenda.
So here’s a warning for the Party of Trump: What happened in California won’t stay in California. It can happen right here in Arizona, and it can happen across the country. Latino voters can raise our voices against the anti-immigrant hate poisoning our politics, and we can decide an election through turning out and voting on Election Day. The words I first said in 1972 in this state still ring true today: si se puede. Yes, we can.
Civil rights leader Dolores Huerta is the co-founder of the United Farm Workers and serves on the board of People For the American Way.
Here is a comment on Huerta's opinion piece. Latinos could be "changing everything."
Conventional pollsters still consider Latinos “if-fy” voters, which is why CNN polls showing Trump in the lead in AZ, are flawed: CNN polls only “likely” voters. If Dolores is right, more AZ Latinos will be moving into the “likely” category this election season … changing everything.
Activating the Latino vote
OK, si se puede. But how?
Here's a New Yorker article on registering and getting out the Latino vote: Can Latinos swing Arizona?
In recent years, as infringements on the rights of Latinos have increased, activist groups have proliferated. In Arizona, the key event provoking this activism occurred on April 19, 2010, when the state legislature passed a bill that contained the most Draconian set of anti-immigrant measures in recent American history. The bill, which was sponsored by Russell Pearce, a state senator who represented Mesa,* codified the saturation patrols, requiring state police to check the immigration status of anyone they detained. It also prohibited undocumented immigrants from working, and criminalized the failure to carry immigration documents.
The week that the bill passed, Petra Falcon, who has worked on behalf of Latinos in Arizona for forty years, convened a “vigil team” of seven people on the lawn of the state capitol. During the day, they prayed to the Virgin of Guadalupe that Governor Jan Brewer would issue a veto. At night, they slept in tents. Even after Brewer signed the bill, the group continued their protest. That July, a federal judge ruled that some of the more controversial provisions—including those related to police patrols, employment, and identification requirements—were unlawful, and the Supreme Court eventually agreed. Falcon ended the vigil, and founded Promise Arizona.
So far, Falcon told me, the organization has registered forty-six thousand voters in Maricopa County — about a quarter of all new registrations. It has also continued the work that Falcon has done since 1992, helping Latino candidates in Arizona to get elected and supporting immigration reform. This year, Falcon has joined her voter-registration efforts with those of One Arizona, a Phoenix-based coalition of Latino registration groups. Together, they hope to register seventy-five thousand voters before the election this fall.
Waking the "sleeping giant" - and why it still sleeps
That is what the report in Cronkite news called the Latino vote, Will the Latino ‘sleeping giant’ wake and vote this November? (The report was reprinted in the Arizona Capitol Times as Latinos: Will the ‘sleeping giant’ wake and vote in November?) Here are snippets.
Andrea Montes turns 18 just weeks before the November election, and the Wisconsin resident plans to vote for the first time.
She said she had always planned to exercise that right, but an incident in April made it clear just how important it was to cast her ballot. Montes was playing in a high school soccer game when it turned ugly. Fans on the opposing team began yelling “Trump ’16” and “Build that wall” at her Latina teammates, she said.
“The candidates this election aren’t the best,” Montes said. “But I feel like if I don’t vote, it means that I’m OK with Donald Trump leading the country. And I’m not. People of color need to be voting this election.”
Organizations like Univision, Voto Latino and the Southwest Voter Registration and Education Project have tried to capitalize on the momentum, and the groups have spent months knocking on doors, sending text messages and blasting the airwaves to register Latinos. One expert said he expects a “mad frenzy” of voter registration leading up to the election.
Yet, it’s unclear whether Latinos will turn out. If they do, they have tremendous potential to affect the outcome.
The Latino population has jumped from 4 percent of the country’s population in 1965 to nearly 20 percent of the population in 2015, according to Pew Research Center. The growth has been steady and noticeable. Today, there are more than 55 million Latinos in the U.S., and an expected 27.3 million will be eligible to vote in November.
But a longstanding gap remains between Latinos who can vote and those who will. The National Association of Latino Elected Officials projects 13.1 million Latino voters will cast ballots this November, which is a 17 percent increase from the last presidential election. But it’s still less than half of the eligible voters.
During the past few presidential elections, national media began to speculate on the effect of the Latino electorate and even gave it the moniker “the sleeping giant.” But every year, despite increased potential, it seemed that giant hadn’t yet awakened.
Indicators suggest this could be the year: Latinos have registered to vote at increasing rates, and many Latino voters indicated they’re more interested in this election – motivated by issues such as the economy and immigration and by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s anti-immigration stance.
“Harsh rhetoric that has been spewed by Donald Trump, right out of the gate, comparing Mexicans to rapists and murderers, could help galvanize the Latino vote to vote against him,” said Joseph Garcia, director of the Latino policy center for the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University, which researches and analyzes critical issues in the state.
At the same time, several factors may keep Latinos away – or at least prevent the electorate from reaching its full potential – this November. Candidates have largely neglected this segment of the population. States have implemented new voting restrictions, creating barriers for both registration and voting. And millennials, who tend to stay away from the polls, make up nearly half the eligible Latino electorate.
You can explore those factors and what might be done about them in the Cronkite News report here.