Immigration-Law Anger Pumps up Arizona Voter Registration

Immigration-Law Anger Pumps up Arizona Voter Registration

Story tools

Comments

A A AResize

Print

Share and Email

 
PHOENIX, Ariz.--The protests over SB-1070, Arizona’s hard-line immigration law, have calmed down, but another type of mobilization has taken place, one voter at a time.

Monday was the deadline for voter registration in Arizona. A coalition of 10 nonprofit organizations that joined to help grow Latino political power in the state claims to have registered more than 22,000 new voters.

In addition, the group, ONE Arizona, claims it registered another 42,000 on a permanent early-voting list and plans to mobilize even more.

“It doesn’t end there, we’ll continue our efforts,” said Francisco Heredia, spokesperson for ONE Arizona and the state director of Mi Familia Vota, another coalition group. Now that the registration deadline has ended, he aid, the coalition’s success boils down to making sure voters go to the polls.

“All the Latinos that are signing up with us are saying, ‘We need to change the direction the state is going in on the immigration front.’ They feel they’ve been under attack,” Heredia said.

Although Hispanics are over 30 percent of the state population they make up only 15 percent of registered voters. Another 300,000 Latinos are eligible to vote but have not registered.

“[SB-1070] was a shock to our community,” stated Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona, a grassroots group involved in voter registration. “All this energy and motivation comes from that.”

Promise Arizona prides itself in following a model of organizing inspired by César Chávez’s farm-workers movement, said Chris Torres, field director for Promise Arizona. The organization, which boasts more than 1,000 volunteers, has focused on certain neighborhoods and worked with volunteers who live there.

The volunteers’ greatest strength is that they know their neighbors and are able to tell the personal story of how SB-1070 has affected them, Torres explained.

He continued, “Once people tell their story, they can’t turn away. Often people feel isolated from the civic-engagement process. When people share their stories, they find their commonality.”

Promise Arizona was able to enlist the help of students in 16 high schools, and the presence of youth has energized the group, Torres said.

“It makes me sad to see that a lot of people in my family are afraid. They don’t want to go out because they fear they’ll be stopped by the police,” said Adrian Salinas, 17 and a volunteer with the organization. “I want to show Latino families we can make a change.”

Many in the pro-immigrant movement hope that SB-1070 will galvanize the political participation of Latino voters that California’s Proposition 187--a measure aimed at undocumented immigrants--did in the 1990s.

But some political analysts caution that setting expectations too high might backfire on the political momentum for Latinos.

Rodolfo Espino, a political science professor at Arizona State University said significantly building the Latino voting bloc may take up to a decade.

“It is a significant battle, but they’re going to see that this is going to have long-term benefits,” Espino said.

Espino said that while Latinos might not have the numbers to make a difference in the upcoming elections, they could make the races more competitive by building coalitions with other ethnic groups, such as Native-Americans and African-Americans.

Passage of SB-1070 has brought blacks and Latinos closer, through a series of marches, church vigils and the visits of such civil rights activists as the Rev. Al Sharpton and scholar Cornel West.

“SB-1070 is providing an opportunity to unite these communities,” Espino noted.

Lawrence Robinson, director of the South Mountain Office of the Democratic Party agreed. The part opened the office in a mostly Latino and African-American neighborhood with an eye towards registering voters—and making sure they get to the polls.

“We live primarily in the same neighborhoods, we have the same failed schools, our streets are falling apart, these are common issues,” Robinson said.

Blacks are not expected to come out in large numbers during the midterm election without President Obama on the ballot. Also Cloves Campbell--the only African-American representative in the State Legislature--lost his primary.

SB-1070 could actually motivate black voters as much as Latinos, Robinson said.

He added, “The vast majority of black folks that I talk to are very angry with SB-1070. They feel, ‘First they come after Latinos and then they’ll come after us.”





 

Comments

 
Anonymous

Posted Oct 5 2010

keep going guys because latinos unidos jamas seran bencidos

Anonymous

Posted Oct 5 2010

I am wondering how many latinos will actually show up to vote. Latinos have been known to register to vote but not show up at the polls. With Spanish language ballots and with both parties willing to provide transportation to and from the polls, there is no excuse for anyone who is registered to vote to come out and cast a ballot.

Anonymous

Posted Oct 5 2010

Good, insight story. Great job, Valeria. Wonder what the Republicans think when they read stories like this.

Anonymous

Posted Oct 5 2010

Excellent !! I have been pushing everyone I know to apply for citizenship and vote. It is time latinos shut the party of xenophobia

Anonymous

Posted Oct 9 2010

Latinos don't want to vote because they only care about one issue, what great American citizens! Too bad the democrats played identity politics and focused on the Latino voters, maybe they should have paid more attention to the rest of us. The liberals sudden desire to stop demanding the separation of church and state while they promote the cult of Islam, a direct threat to the gays, is frustrating. Watching the liberal left fling "t--bagger" at the opposition was only funny the first two months, now it's just a reminder the bigots are on the left, also very frustrating. Gays watched DADT repeal get tanked because of the DREAM Act, and that really frustrated the gays to see our equal rights fall behind special rights for illegals. Finally, the communist farce that was "One Nation" didn't bother to include the gays until one week before the rally. After claiming they'd been planning the rally since April, it's just a little frustrating to see that the Communist and Socialist party's were determined to be less offensive to Americans than the gays. The gays that did attend were met with hostility from the other One Nationer's. Thanks for waking up the sleeping giant.
Vote Often, Vote American!

Anonymous

Posted Oct 9 2010

It would be nice if Latinos would encourage others to obey our laws.

Anonymous

Posted Oct 12 2010

Conservative NeoCons hide behind the rule of law phrase when they all have had traffic tickets and little Sandy is out smoking pot with her friends

Anonymous

Posted Oct 16 2010

My former government professor John Hovel, UTEP 1981-1892,(El Paso, TX) would say that the day when the Brown Giant Wakes Up(The Latinos), it would stir the politics in America...I mean, are we waking up yet?

Rogelio

Posted Oct 16 2010

My former government professor John Hovel, UTEP 1981-1892,(El Paso, TX) would say that the day when the Brown Giant Wakes Up(The Latinos), it would stir the politics in America...I mean, are we waking up yet?

Rogelio

Posted Oct 16 2010

My former government professor John Hovel, UTEP 1981-1982,(El Paso, TX) would say that the day when the Brown Giant Wakes Up(The Latinos), it would stir the politics in America...I mean, are we waking up yet?

Rogelio

Posted Oct 16 2010

My former government professor John Hovel, UTEP 1981-1982,(El Paso, TX) would say that the day when the Brown Giant Wakes Up(The Latinos), it would stir the politics in America...I mean, are we waking up yet?

Anonymous

Posted Oct 21 2010

Are they all legal to be voting?

Anonymous

Posted Oct 24 2010

The sleeping Giant is awake. Over 10 million Latinos voted in the general election of this total 68% voted for President Obama. We will also come out in force on November 2. I hope we vote democratic.

Disclaimer: Comments do not necessarily reflect the views of New America Media. NAM reserves the right to edit or delete comments. Once published, comments are visible to search engines and will remain in their archives. If you do not want your identity connected to comments on this site, please refrain from commenting or use a handle or alias instead of your real name.