Latino activists in the United States are gearing up to register 1 million new American citizens (mostly of Mexican origin) to vote against Donald Trump in 2016. The effort is funded in part by billionaire George Soros, a Hungarian-American who is the money behind the progressive Open Society Foundation. The nonprofit activist organization funds various political movements in countries around the world.
The new voters could swing numbers at the ballot box in states such as Illinois and Florida where Latino voters are numerous. In the balance are key U.S. Senate races, in addition to the presidential election. Latino activists are seeking to induce another 2 million Latinos who turned 18 years of age since 2012 to come out in vote. At issue for many Latinos is the status of the so-called Dreamers: young immigrants who were granted amnesty by President Barack Obama because of the circumstances of their initial admission to the U.S. as minors.
The 2012 deportation amnesty meant that some 700,000 young illegal immigrants are in little danger of deportation and gave them work permits, and access to Social Security numbers and driver’s licenses. Obama’s plans to grant the same status to 3.7 million illegal immigrant parents was halted by courts as an illegal use of executive power.
Joshua Hoyt – executive director of National Partnership for New Americans – said of the effort on December 17 “This is a huge amount of latent power.” Hoyt has been a community organizer since 1977 and associated with Obama in Chicago for many years. In the past, Hoyt has been a critic of Obama’s immigration policy, which he considered insufficiently generous to foreigners.
Immigrants from Latin American are less likely than other immigrant groups to become naturalized U.S. citizens, and also have lower propensity to vote than all over demographic groups. The challenge to get out the vote is found in the estimated 8.8 million immigrants have been in the U.S. for at least five years as legal permanent residents, making them eligible for citizenship, according to the Center for American Progress. They are heavily Latino: 30 percent are Mexican.
Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), who is of Puerto Rican parentage and leader among progressive Latinos, has said that young Latinos seek to defend the immigration status of the so-called Dreamers. With regard to expanding the amnesty to Dreamers’ parents, Gutierrez said recently “The undocumented are in the same families as the legal permanent residents and the U.S. citizens,” adding “Those families are going to mobilize.”
As for the presidential candidacies of two Cuban-American Republicans, Cruz and Rubio, Gutierrez said, “They know who’s on their side, right?” He added, “Having a last surname that is Latino does not make you an advocate for the interests and a defender for the future and a more prosperous future for our community.”