Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Latinos Seek Citizenship to Vote Against Trump

After the 2012 presidential election loss, the GOP conducted a post mortem to determine the party's future path so as to avoid becoming a permanent minority party at the presidential level.   Among other things, the study findings were that the party needed to be more open to minorities and less reliant on aging white voters.  That insight has been flushed down the toilet with the rising racism in the GOP best embodied by Donald Trump, but also echoed by Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Hispanics themselves.  The anti-minority bigotry and hatred displayed by the GOP base is not going unnoticed.  Now, as the New York Times reports, Latinos legally in the country are rushing to obtain citizenship so that they can vote Democratic in November.  Here are story highlights:

Donald J. Trump’s harsh campaign language against Mexican immigrants has helped him win a substantial delegate lead in the Republican primaries, but it is also mobilizing a different set of likely voters — six in the family of Hortensia Villegas alone.

A legal immigrant from Mexico, Ms. Villegas is a mother of two who has been living in the United States for nearly a decade but never felt compelled to become a citizen. But as Mr. Trump has surged toward the Republican nomination, Ms. Villegas — along with her sister, her parents and her husband’s parents — has joined a rush by many Latino immigrants to naturalize in time to vote in November.

“I want to vote so Donald Trump won’t win,” said Ms. Villegas, 32, one of several hundred legal residents, mostly Mexicans, who crowded one recent Saturday into a Denver union hall. Volunteers helped them fill out applications for citizenship, which this year are taking about five months for federal officials to approve. “He doesn’t like us,” she said.

Over all, naturalization applications increased by 11 percent in the 2015 fiscal year over the year before, and jumped 14 percent during the six months ending in January, according to federal figures. The pace is picking up by the week, advocates say, and they estimate applications could approach one million in 2016, about 200,000 more than the average in recent years.

While naturalizations generally rise during presidential election years, Mr. Trump provided an extra boost this year. 

“A lot of people are opening their eyes because of all the negative stuff Donald Trump has brought,” said Ms. Villegas’s husband, Miguel GarfĂ­o, 30, who was born and raised in Colorado and came to the workshop here to help his wife and other family members become citizens. His parents came from Mexico in the 1980s and worked hard all their lives, he said, helping him create a construction company in Denver that now employs 18 people. Contrary to Mr. Trump’s depiction, he said, none of his relatives have criminal records.

A majority of Latinos are Democrats, and some Republicans accuse the White House of leading a thinly veiled effort to expand the ranks of the president’s party. But administration officials argue the campaign is nonpartisan, noting that immigrants who become citizens improve their incomes and chances for homeownership.

Aside from Colorado, naturalization drives are taking place in Nevada and Florida, states likely to be fiercely contested in November where Latino voters could provide a crucial margin. One nonprofit group, the New Americans Campaign, plans to complete 1,500 applications at a session in the Marlins Park baseball stadium in Miami on March 19.

Among the groups the White House is supporting are immigrant rights organizations and labor unions, which say their goal in holding dozens of citizenship workshops this spring is to build immigrant voting power.

[I]n a poll of Latino voters on Feb. 25 by The Washington Post and Univision, the Spanish language television network, 80 percent had an unfavorable view of Mr. Trump, including 72 percent with a very unfavorable view, far more than for other Republican candidates.

Mary Victorio, 22, a Mexican-born student at the University of Colorado Denver, said she would vote Democratic but was grateful in one way to Mr. Trump. “He gave us that extra push we needed to get ready to vote, to prove to people who see us negatively they are wrong,” she said.

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