Latinos Largest Group in California, Lack Political Clout

Monday, 17 Mar 2014 11:41 PM

By Jason Devaney

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Latinos will surpass whites as the most populous race in California this month, according to a new report.

The Guardian reports that Latinos will make up 39 percent of the state, compared to the white non-Hispanic figure of 38.8 percent.

The number of Latinos that vote in U.S. elections will double in the coming years. However, the demographic is lagging behind others in political pull.

For one, the Guardian reports, immigration reform in Washington has stalled. And the Obama administration has deported almost 2 million Latinos since taking office.

National Council of La Raza President Janet Murguia even went so far as to call Obama “the deporter-in-chief.”

“For the president, I think his legacy is at stake here,” Murguia said. “We consider him the deportation president.”

In response, Obama has reached out to Latino lawmakers to review the deportation process. According to the Los Angeles Times,  Obama also asked the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to enforce immigration laws “more humanely … within the confines of the law.”

For the 2012 presidential election, 53 million Latinos lived in the U.S. That equated to 17.2 percent of the population, according to the Guardian report, but only 8.4 percent of that number was actual voters. And half of those folks lived in Texas and California, which typically vote Republican and Democrat, respectively. That meant there wasn’t a need for Latinos in those states to come to the polls in droves.

However, some have said that Latinos played a big role in Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012. More than 11 million Latinos voted in the 2012 presidential election, reports the Guardian.

Still, that’s a small number compared to the Latino population in the U.S. Many are living in the country illegally and cannot vote. Others are legal citizens but are not voters. Another 17 million are below the voting age of 18, according to the Guardian report. Once those children turn 18 and enter the voting pool, experts predict there will be a surge in Latinos at the polls over the next 15 years.

“As a community we’re still developing, maturing,” Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, told the Guardian. “With every electoral cycle Latino political impact is increasing but we understand there is much more to do.”

Media guru Lionel Sosa, on the other hand, told the Guardian that Latinos could be discouraged after twice helping elect Obama — and then seeing many of them deported under his watch.

“That says disrespect,” Sosa said. “So why vote for his candidates? Come the next election, it’ll make you want to stay at home.”

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