The Latin demographic to be represented in presidential electoral campaigns

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Bill Smith (Flickr)

Line at voting poll

Ivana Venema-Nunez , Reporter

The approach to immigration is distinct between political party lines. Republicans have advocated for preventive measures to reduce illegal immigration such as a border wall.  Democrats have pursued the inclusion of immigrants regardless of their citizenship status.

The Latin voting block has always been hard to reach because of the immense diversity of the Latin community.  With a projected 32 million registered voters, the Democratic Party will need to understand the issues that are important to the community. 

In trying to understand Latin identity, the Democratic presidential campaigns have Latino leaders in key positions, to have representation for what being Latin means to the community. 

Johnathan Jayes-Green, Latino outreach director for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Mass., expressed the importance of support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) that allow undocumented children to seek higher education.

“What I love when Senator Warren talks about her many plans is that in order to make them be anything beyond a piece of paper, we need a movement,” Green said. “We need it to be able to fight for big structural change that we need in our community.”

Laura Jimenez, National Latino engagement director for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. grew up in the Bronx and traveled to the Dominican Republic to visit her father during the summers and took her a long time to find her identity.

“Trump is using our community to win re-election. He’s demonizing us,” Jimenez said. “And because this election is about us, we have to prioritize, as a community, someone who can defeat this man.”

Biden has acknowledged pain associated with the deportation of thousands of parents while in his term as vice president and advocates for a rollback on President Trump’s immigration policies.

Edwin Torres, Latino outreach director for Senator Amy Klobuchar (D) Minn., was part of the first wave of approved DACA students.  He found his calling in local campaigns before joining the presidential campaign.

“She went the extra mile in 2018 to make sure we flipped the House in Minnesota, which then allowed us to have bigger conversations on licenses for all, and other progressive policies.” 

“As an undocumented and unafraid DACA recipient, and as a gay Latino man in America, I want our next president to be able to unify our country,” Torres said.

Belen Sisa, Latino press secretary for Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont became a community organizer in Arizona and even though she couldn’t vote, she wanted to encourage those who can vote to be civically engaged and to have their voices heard. 

“Whether I was undocumented or documented, that didn’t define me,” Sisa said. “I was still deserving of being able to have a seat at the table.”

“It would have been completely unheard-of for someone running to be the next president of the United States to hire an undocumented person for such a visible role, and to trust that person to advocate for your agenda,” she said. “I think that says a lot about where his priorities are.”

Cecilia Cabello, California state director for former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) Ind., had a spark that started when she saw blatant racism when returning to Los Angeles after living in New York for a decade. 

“I had a sheltered childhood in the sense that when you’re only around Latinos and Asian folks, you’re not seeing that kind of disparity,” she said. “That really lit my fire in terms of reconnecting with identity, understanding a lot of Chicano history and Latinos in L.A., and got me kind of politically motivated to do stuff.”

“What I truly believe in is our founding documents. On paper we’re all equal, but that’s obviously not true, so we have to work until it’s actually true for everyone,” Cabello said.