How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More attempts to dissuade Latino voters reported

Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC

Outside a polling place today in Bell, Calif.

Two weeks after news broke of an unaired ad campaign urging Latinos not to vote, efforts to dissuade Latinos from the polls have reportedly continued into the eleventh hour.

Election Protection, a polling watchdog group, has told the Associated Press that about two dozen Los Angeles residents have received automated calls in Spanish and printed mailers instructing them not to vote until tomorrow, the day after the midterm election. An official from the group said it's believed that most of the calls and mailers have been received since yesterday morning.

Some voters in Bell, a city in southeast Los Angeles County that is more than 90 percent Latino, reported receiving similar calls recently. Father and son Porfirio and Irving Quijada, both of Bell, said this morning at their polling place that they had received an anonymous voicemail message about two weeks ago urging them not to vote, and that others in their neighborhood had received calls like this, too.

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Q&A: Voto Latino's Maria Teresa Kumar on the voting power of U.S.-born Latinos

Photo by buschap/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A bilingual after-voting sticker, February 2008

No one is more familiar with the power of the Latino vote, considered pivotal in tomorrow's midterm election, than the organizations working to get Latino voters to the polls.

Unlike some groups that focus outreach efforts on Spanish-dependent immigrants, Voto Latino focuses on younger Latinos who are U.S-born and English-dependent, employing popular culture and social media in its outreach. The nonprofit was co-founded in 2004 by actress/activist Rosario Dawson and its executive director, Maria Teresa Kumar. Since then the organization has registered tens of thousands of voters.

Born in Colombia, Kumar has been named by PODER Magazine as one of the most notable 20 U.S. Hispanics under 40 years old. She is a political contributor to MSNBC and has also appeared on CNN’s AC 360 and American Morning, NPR, Telemundo and CNBC.

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Quote of the moment: NCLR's Martinez De Castro on what motivates Latino voters

Photo by Joe Hall/Flickr (Creative Commons)

A multilingual sign points the way to a polling place, November 2006


"Much has been made about Latino enthusiasm around voting on Tuesday, suggesting that low enthusiasm means 'not voting.' Well, here's the thing: I am voting on Tuesday, but I would hardly describe my mood as 'enthusiastic.'

"All to say that there are different factors vying for Latino attention--some could dampen participation, some could energize it--and the way that candidates define themselves on the issues makes a difference to those energy levels."

- Clarissa Martinez De Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, in the Huffington Post


Martinez's opinion piece made the Twitter rounds this weekend. In it she wrote about about the varied perceptions of Latino voters as either a) a solid voting block, aligned on issues and focused chiefly on immigration (which they are not); b) no different than the rest of the electorate, without common interests (which they are also not).

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Pew survey: Political backlash has Latinos divided on immigration issues, worried about discrimination

The results of a new national survey from the Pew Hispanic Center show the political backlash against illegal immigration creating divisions on a number of issues among Latinos (including between those who are immigrants and those who are native-born) and prompting worries about discrimination.

To begin with, the survey found Latinos in general to be divided over what to do about the nation's estimated population of 11.1 million undocumented immigrants. From the report:

A small majority (53%) says they should pay a fine but not be deported. A small minority (13%) says they should be deported, and a larger minority (28%) says they should not be punished.

More people surveyed saw discrimination as an issue than they did during a previous survey:
Today, more than six-in-ten (61%) Latinos say that discrimination against Hispanics is a “major problem,” up from 54% who said that in 2007. Asked to state the most important factor leading to discrimination, a plurality of 36% now cites immigration status, up from a minority of 23% who said the same in 2007. Back then, a plurality of respondents—46%—identified language skills as the biggest cause of discrimination.

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Quote of the moment: Michelle Obama on the influence of Latino voters

“The Latino community will be huge in these elections, they were huge two years ago…Because two years ago this community turned out, things were surprisingly different.”

- First Lady Michelle Obama on this morning’s “Piolín por la Mañana” radio show in Los Angeles


The interview was the second this week with a member of the Obama family on Eddie “Piolín” Sotelo’s influential morning show on Univision's La Nueva 101.9. An-studio interview with President Obama aired Monday, during which Sotelo pressed him on his promised support for comprehensive immigration reform, a sore spot for some Latino voters given the lack of a successful bill so far.

Today's interview with Michelle Obama, taped in-studio yesterday, is yet another testament to the growing influence of Spanish-language media and, as election season rolls around, the power of the highly-coveted Latino vote. Obama's remark above was in response to a question from Sotelo about "the importance of voting." The interview was aired on Univision radio stations around the country.

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