Latino vote becoming increasingly important

Sean Blackwell, Staff Writer

The Latino or Hispanic vote is increasingly powerful, and Latino Millennials hold nearly half of that power, giving them the potential to pick the next president of the United States.

In the United States, particularly during election cycles, political experts and others like to categorize eligible voters into voting blocks, to more accurately quantify and predict what they will do on Election Day. Hence, the phrase “Latino vote” was adopted into the American-English lexicon to refer to the voting patterns of people who are of Latino or Hispanic descent.

Much of the rhetoric emanating from the political campaigns in 2016 revolves around the issue of immigration—particularly, the undocumented status of Hispanic persons who entered the U.S. through the Mexico-United States border.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has publicly proposed immigration policies which would create a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants, while continuing the summary deportation of undocumented immigrants who have been found guilty of committing a felony offense.

In stark contrast, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has publicly proposed immigration policies which would ban Muslims from entering the country, build “an impenetrable wall” on the Mexico-United States border, and create a “deportation force” tasked with removing all persons who reside in the United States illegally.

Given the strikingly different approaches the two major political party nominees have circulated on the issue of immigration and the profound impact either one of those approaches will have on the future of this nation, the Latino vote is critical in this election cycle—in particular, the vote of Hispanic millennials.

Millennials are generally considered to be persons who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of the students currently attending UIS are millennials.

Hispanic millennials will make up nearly half of the 27 million eligible Hispanic voters projected for 2016, according to the Pew Research Center. In other words, young Latino voters may have the power to choose the next president of the United States and determine the future progress of this country.

The right to vote is considered by many an important privilege, affording U.S. citizens the power to influence the decisions made by those who govern them.

“If you don’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain. If you vote, it’s the minimum that you can do to actually push for change…for reform,” said Professor Adriana Crocker, who teaches political science here at UIS. “[Latinos] have certain vested interests in this election more than any other election…because we want to dispel the lies about undocumented immigrants and unauthorized immigrants…. In order to have our voices heard, we need to vote. We need to vote and be part of this new leadership.”

Daisy Contreras, a UIS graduate student studying public affairs reporting, believes it is very important for Latinos to make their voices heard through the franchise.

“I believe the Latino vote is very important, especially because the number of Latinos is increasing here in the United States,” said Contreras. “Having the Latino voice heard is very important, because the issues that matter to Latinos need to make it to the legislature.”

Millions of Hispanic millennials who were not eligible to vote in 2012 are now eligible to vote in 2016. Millennials, in general, have the power to shape their future through the electoral process.