Donald Trump’s presidential campaign not only hovers over the idea of a bigger wall, but it also lights a fire under the Latino community that hasn’t been ignited in a long time.
Whether it is for humor on social media or political debates and violent rallies across the nation, Trump’s platform brings a level of fear into the Latino community. Unlike the average fear, it’s not pushing Latino people away but uniting them to oppose the presumptive Republican candidate.
According to Chula Robertson, an organizer for Mi Familia Vota, a non-profit organization that urges Latinos to promote social and economic justice through civic participation, this is the wake-up call the voting community has been waiting for to get Latinos to vote.
“Though we are nonpartisan, we hear it all the time, ‘We want to vote so this guy doesn’t win,’” said Robertson.
According to Julissa Villa the director of Por Un Arizona Unido, a non-profit group that fights for social justice in human rights, labor and U.S. constitutional rights in Arizona, the Latino community doesn’t express an interest when it comes to voting because of the lack of education in the region.
“It’s like an apple tree,” said Villa in Spanish. “We must plant the seed in order to see the tree grow and receive the fruit we have all been patiently waiting for.”
This has not been the first attempt by Trump to step into the Oval Office. He sought the presidential nomination in 2000. This time around, he has not held back on the issue he said affects the everyday American – immigration.
Villa said that the problems involving immigration aren’t going to be fixed with a higher wall but by advocating to the Latino community to vote.
“Although this is only a bandage to the deep wound this is just the beginning,” said Villa.
Soon, 18- to 25-year olds will outnumber the Baby Boomers of the 1950s, which pushes Mi Familia Vota to approach high school seniors in the Sunnyside School District and Tucson School District.
“We want to start early,” said Robertson. “Because we want to build power in the Latino Community so we can have the Arizona we want.”
An Arizona many students wish to see changed.
“We’ve come so far to get away from this discrimination, and now we’re taking 3 feet back,” said Francisca Morales, Movimiento Estudiantil Chicanx de Aztlán (MEChA) member at the University of Arizona, an organization that advocates for Chicano unity and empowerment through political action.
Though Trump targets the Mexican community, the fear travels to the opposite side of the country with a different Latino population — Miami, Florida.
“The more you act on us, the stronger we become,” said Agustin Garcia, president of Garcorp International Inc., which assists Miami’s Cuban community. “It’s our turn to say no.”
He said that Latinos getting involved in voting is just the beginning – they must be involved in everything. Garcia said he was honored to see two Latinos, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, run for the GOP nomination before bowing out, although he did not agree with several of their platforms.
“We Latinos are a big family and it should stay that way,” said Garcia. “Our culture is for forever, politics are tentative, changing for every election.”
Villa said that with this election, Latinos are starting to realize their votes are respected and they can make a change they wish to see.
Although non-profit organizations target the Latino community to vote, Mexican-Americans like Alonso Acevedo, a student at Arizona Western College, fears for the day of Trump’s victory.
“In all honesty, I can say I’m afraid,” said Acevedo, a Mexican-American and a veteran.
She said Trump reopens the door for racism in the country.
“We need to take off the blindfold and realize that this isn’t a joke, but a serious issue,” Morales said.
Could this election be the beginning of a revolution many Latinos have been waiting for?
“Once we are united, we can’t be stopped,” said Robertson. “Like the saying goes in Spanish: ‘Hormigas unidas se comen al elefante (United ants eat the elephant).”
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Karen Lizarraga is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News Service from the Schoo of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.