Jolted by Trump, Latino Youths Realize the Power of Voting

Young Latinos Alexis Ortiz, Jennifer Díaz, Kevin Finnegan-Díaz and Andrés Aguirre become a new voting force in the midst of the Trump administration’s anti-immigrant climate. (Photo via El Diario)

Ever since Donald Trump took office as president of the U.S., the immigrant community has been the target of intense attacks that have given way to a rejection of federal policy in the form of a progressive phenomenon embodied by such new faces as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz, Catalina Cruz, Julia Salazar, Karines Reyes and Jessica Ramos. (…)

Experts and political analysts have noticed that young people, particularly “millennials,” (…) have generated an entire “new blood” movement that understands the power of voting to effect change (…)

Emilio Véles, a 19-year-old systems engineering student of Mexican descent, is getting ready to vote for the first time on Tuesday in the state elections. He says that the president himself gave him the final push he needed.

“Trump has been attacking immigrants, the LGBTQ community and women, and he has committed many abuses, but when I heard this week that he is thinking of denying citizenship to the children of undocumented people, I had no question that I need to get out and vote,” said the Queens resident (…).

The youth admits that many of his friends still do not see the point in voting. His own twin brother told him that he will not cast his ballot. (…)

“I would like there to be a politics program in school as part of the curriculum. When I was in school, no one knew anything about anything. We were just children, and we cannot allow things to affect us without taking action, especially now that Trump is in power. This is not a joke,” said the future voter.

At 23, Alexis Ortiz, of Colombian descent, confesses that he had no interest in politics when he was 18. However, some crude images made him “react.” (…)

“When I saw the ICE people separating women from their children on television and learned that there were many cases of abuse, I realized that the best way to make a change is through voting,” said Ortiz. (…)

“I am not saying that I want to be a politician some day, but my parents are immigrants and they go through very difficult things. That is why, when I see a candidate such as Catalina Cruz, who reflects the situation of many of my friends and relatives, I find myself inspired, and that makes me take voting seriously,” said the young man. (…)

Jennifer Díaz, the daughter of Mexican and Salvadoran parents, said that she is motivated to vote to defend women at a time when they are being abused and mistreated by Washington. “It is important to fight for our rights because, at the end of the day, [Trump] has no business meddling in rights that belong to me and to women. We need women to represent us. I am voting for that as well,” she said.


“I admire Alexandria Ocasio-Cortéz, but also Julia Salazar,” said Gabby Vásquez, 21, the daughter of Dominican and Puerto Rican parents. “They are both Latina, but they are two very different types of Latina, and that helped me feel more comfortable about myself and to understand that there are many types of Hispanics, that we don’t all need to be the same, and that our richness lies in those differences.”

Political analyst Carlos Vargas said that this movement of youths interested in politics is in large part an effect of the victory of Donald Trump (…)

“That election hit a nerve, not just among those who staunchly support Trump and the Republicans who give him an 80 percent approval rating, but the measures he has taken during his presidency have rubbed salt in the wound and mortified another sector of the electorate. Because young people have seen themselves greatly affected, they have risen up to support progressive candidates,” he explained.

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