The candidacy for possible re-election of Donald Trump has energized the Latino youth vote in Arizona more than ever. Young activists from immigrant families have joined the campaigns to get the vote because they say they feel that with their vote and their work they defend their non-citizen parents. In addition, this renewed activism could change the landscape of many state and local political offices. Valeria Fernández spoke with some of these new activists and reports from Phoenix, Arizona.
You hear a song, the voter cumbia, the voter cumbia …
La Cumbia Votadora, composed by the Orkesta Mendoza circulates on social networks encouraging the LUCHA Blue campaign, led by young Latinos to mobilize 1 million voters to the polls this November. Many are motivated to defend their immigrant families who are essential workers but have been excluded from federal aid during the pandemic.
“One of the things that are at risk for me is that I have two parents who are undocumented …”
Alexis Delgado, organizer of LUCHA Blue is a citizen and will vote for the first time. She was 9 years old when her parents left Arizona for Texas to protect themselves from the anti-immigrant law SB 1070 a decade ago. When he returned to Arizona, he began to participate in politics at the age of 15. She is part of a generation that is determined to put a progressive spin on the state, like herself, says Alejandra Gómez, co-director of LUCHA.
“We learned not to wait for any candidate and no person to come and save us … we activate our community and with our community we fight”
The community organization LUCHA has been working to empower Latinx communities for almost a decade. Arizona has historically been a Republican state. But this November the Latino vote that represents almost a quarter of eligible voters could precipitate a change, not only in the presidential race but also for the Senate seat held by the late Republican John McCain.
Advertising is heard in Spanish about Mark Kelly …
According to the latest polls, almost 7 out of 10 Latinos favor the Democrat and former astronaut, Mark Kelly, and only 26 percent support the Republican and former pilot, Martha McSally.
This Republican sympathetic minority forms the group, Latinos por Trump. This year Republicans have opened three offices for Latinos, says Sergio Arellano, an adviser to the group.
“As a businessman I benefited too much from the president’s policies. And not just me but other Latino businessmen”
Other Latinos for Trump support him for his agenda aligned to their religious beliefs, such as his opposition to abortion, regardless of his personal behaviors, says Christian pastor José González.
“He is in favor of marriage as the Bible says, man and woman; is in favor of religious freedom … so, we focus on what he is supporting religiously and not on what he said, what he did, his person, his character”
While in the polls, Democratic candidate Joe Biden is ahead of Trump, young activists claim that little is invested in mobilizing the Latino vote, says Alejandra Gómez, co-director of LUCHA.
“We hope that the Democratic parties, both locally and nationally, begin to see that our community has not been won over.”
While the Democratic Party decides, young dreamers like Tony Valdovinos, who four years ago mobilized the vote and defeated the anti-immigrant Sheriff, Joe Arpaio, are betting on a change with local candidates, such as the recent triumph of activist Carlos García for the Council of the city of Phoenix.
Tony Valdovinos, who founded the political consulting firm La Machine:
“We’ve beat Arpaio the night that Trump got elected. So that night was super bittersweet for us here in Phoenix… I know what I can control is what we’re doing locally, and I think that’s where we can be more effective.”
(We beat Arpaio the same night Trump was elected. That night was bittersweet here in Phoenix. I know that what I can control is what we are doing locally, that is where we can be most effective).
For Alejandra Gómez, co-director of LUCHA, it is clear that work will continue after the elections to change the narrative that criminalizes immigrants and thus recognize their value.
“Our community has contributed to this country and we also want those contributions to be seen, felt”
Turn up the sound of the cumbia …
For the Weekly Edition of Noticiero Latino, from Phoenix, Arizona, Photo and script by Valeria Fernández.