Latino voters in New York state will make a decisive impact on November 8 — especially down ballot — and politicians who supported Donald Trump and his anti-immigrant rhetoric will pay the price, says a key Latino lobbying group.
“The sleeping giant is awake, quite awake, and this November, we are ready, as Latinos, to keep on making history,” said Sen. Jose Peralta, D-Queens. “We were able to come out of the shadows, and now we vote, we get elected to public office, we become judges, commissioners, teachers and lawyers. And this November, the Latino vote, as it is increasing year after year, will be crucial in our efforts to make a difference in the New York State Senate and move forward our progressive agenda, making, for example, the DREAM Act a reality.”
The group Make the Road Action, which lobbies for public policy on behalf of the Latino community, released the report on October 12 at a press briefing in New York City where Latino voters shared stories about why they are motivated to vote this November.
The report shows that Latinos constitute 12 percent of the statewide electorate, while people of color overall make up 31 percent of the electorate. While many view New York City as the Empire State’s Latino center, established and growing Latino centers exist throughout New York state, according to the report, which uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the Siena College Poll, the Fiscal Policy Institute and the Pew Research Center.
“This is a great chance for us to fight against those individuals championing anti-immigrant rhetoric,” Peralta said. “We will continue to push hard to fight against racism and discrimination, and an ideal way to do this is going to the polls and making your vote count.”
The report spotlights three state Senate districts and two congressional districts on Long Island to demonstrate how Latino voters may make a difference on Election Day. The percentage of voters who are Latino in Senate Districts 6, 7 and 9, for example, approaches 10 percent of all voters. In congressional districts 1 and 3, the number is 6 and 5 percent, respectively.
Races in all of these districts are expected to be close, and Latino voters could play a decisive role, the report suggests.
And in the lower Hudson Valley, cities like White Plains and Newburgh, where 29.6 percent and 47.9 percent, respectively, of the population are Latino, have seen large increases in the Latino population, as well as substantial growth in registered voters.
“The implications are clear. In an election season when Donald Trump has staked his candidacy on hatred and intolerance—particularly as it relates to Latinos and immigrants—Republicans
down the ballot will likely face consequences for their support of Donald Trump,” the report states. “This support has taken the shape of endorsement by key candidates like Congressman Lee Zeldin and state party chairman Ed Cox, and the declarations by candidates like Senator Jack Martins that they would vote for and stand behind Mr. Trump as their party’s candidate. Latino voters will not take these positions lightly.”
Testimonies in the report and the briefing highlighted what national and state data have demonstrated: that Latinos are naturalizing and registering en masse, fueled in large part by the anti-immigrant campaign of Donald Trump and other anti-immigrant candidates.
“I’m going to vote this year to make myself heard and felt as a Latina woman standing up for my community. We are a nation that is supposed to protect us all, even if Republicans standing with Donald Trump don’t want to see that reality,” said Marlenis de los Santos of Long Island. “The tremendous injustice, disrespect, insecurity, and racism our community is facing makes me feel more motivated than ever—not just to vote, but to work to get out the vote in my community.”
The report points out that Democrats in New York have not always embraced Latino and immigrant priorities, including “certain members” who have voted against the DREAM Act, which would expand access to higher education for immigrant youth, and access to drivers’ licenses for undocumented immigrants.
The report states that Democratic candidates should seize the opportunity brought by this election cycle to prioritize engagement of Latino voters, who could help deliver them important victories in November.
“The results of this election season will have a drastic impact on the direction both our country and state will take for generations to come,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, D-Bronx. “As a community that contributes significantly to the economic and social fabric of our state, we need to ensure that those running for office respect the Latino community and are committed to working on the issues that matter to us most.”