Election ex­poses gen­er­a­tional di­vide in the Latino com­mu­nity

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Don­ald Trump’s rhetoric on im­mi­gra­tion is test­ing a long-term trend among His­pan­ics: Mem­bers of a fam­ily that has been in the coun­try for mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions and uses pri­mar­ily English are more likely to vote Repub­li­can than those who more re­cently ar­rived in the United States. The num­ber of Lati­nos in the United States is grow­ing, mak­ing them a key de­mo­graphic group whose votes are cov­eted by both ma­jor par­ties. While tra­di­tion­ally they vote for Democrats, that sup­port isn’t iron­clad.

Leo Lopez’s fa­ther, who came to the United States from Mex­ico in the 1980s, is a Demo­crat and firm Hil­lary Clin­ton sup­porter. But Lopez him­self, an ac­count­ing stu­dent at the state univer­sity in this heav­ily His­panic, blue-col­lar town, is lean­ing to­ward Trump. “I’m kind of scop­ing them all out,” Lopez said at a re­cent Don­ald Trump rally here. “Trump’s tax plan would help me out more.”

Ninety per­cent of His­pan­ics who pri­mar­ily speak Span­ish iden­tify as Democrats, but of those who mostly use English that num­ber drops to 59 per­cent, ac­cord­ing to a Pew His­panic Cen­ter sur­vey re­leased ear­lier this month. Those English-dom­i­nant vot­ers are by no means leav­ing the Demo­cratic Party in droves, how­ever. Over­all, Clin­ton leads among Latino vot­ers by nearly 3-1. But of Latino Trump sup­port­ers, 83 per­cent are U.S.-born. A sim­i­lar pat­tern was seen in 2012, when His­pan­ics who mainly speak Span­ish sup­ported Barack Obama over Mitt Rom­ney by a whop­ping mar­gin of 59 per­cent­age points. English-speak­ing Lati­nos still over­whelm­ingly sup­ported the pres­i­dent, but the mar­gin dropped to 40 points. “For them the is­sues of im­mi­gra­tion are much closer,” Mark Hugo Lopez of the Pew His­panic Cen­ter said of first- and sec­ond-gen­er­a­tion His­panic Amer­i­cans, who tend to be poorer than longer-es­tab­lished fam­i­lies. By con­trast, English-dom­i­nant Lati­nos are usu­ally wealth­ier and con­sume less Span­ish-lan­guage me­dia. The great ex­cep­tion is among Cuban-Amer­i­cans. First-gen­er­a­tion im­mi­grants from Cuba lean Repub­li­can - their pol­i­tics are partly de­fined by their flight from a com­mu­nist coun­try - but their chil­dren are more likely to vote Demo­cratic.

As im­mi­gra­tion from Latin Amer­ica slows, an in­creas­ing per­cent­age of His­pan­ics are US-born, but how those peo­ple vote is an open ques­tion. “It’s not a sin­gle bloc that will for­ever be tied to one party,” Lopez said. “You might see Amer­i­cans in 50 years who say, ‘Yes, I have a Mex­i­can her­itage, but I don’t con­sider my­self Mex­i­can or His­panic - I’m Amer­i­can.’” But Trump’s harsh words against im­mi­grants could turn Amer­i­can­born Lati­nos against the Repub­li­can Party by mak­ing even them feel un­wel­come.

“If you’re go­ing to force some­one to vote on their eth­nic­ity, they will,” said Sylvia Man­zano of the polling group Latino De­ci­sions. “Latino vot­ers who voted against Mitt Rom­ney did so on health care and the economy but didn’t think, “This guy hates peo­ple like me.’This thing with Trump is a qual­i­ta­tively dif­fer­ent an­i­mal.” The dy­namic is on dis­play in Pue­blo, a city of 100,000 in south­ern Colorado that is 44 per­cent His­panic.

Pue­blo is an anom­aly in gen­er­ally af­flu­ent Colorado - a down­scale slice of Rust Belt on the high plains, a heav­ily union­ized steel town that for decades was a Demo­cratic bas­tion but has been trend­ing Repub­li­can. Many of its Latino res­i­dents trace their an­ces­try back cen­turies, to when the area was part of Mex­ico. While many have been con­sid­er­ing Repub­li­can can­di­dates, vot­ing for Trump is a bridge too far for some.

“He’s a racist. He’s anti-ev­ery­thing but white,” said Dario Madrid, a 66-year-old re­tired cook who has voted for Repub­li­cans in the past but will vote for Clin­ton. That view is far from unan­i­mous. Ali­son Valdez, 41, brought her 10-yearold son, David, and newborn daugh­ter, Olive, to see Trump speak in down­town Pue­blo ear­lier this month. She liked his views on sub­ject­ing im­mi­grants to what he calls “ex­treme vet­ting” to weed out ter­ror­ists. “San Bernardino, that did it for me,” Valdez said, re­fer­ring to the De­cem­ber 2015 at­tack that claimed 13 lives. “Keep­ing Amer­ica safe is No 1.”

Valdez and many other Pue­blo res­i­dents said their fam­i­lies, all of which have been in the coun­try for mul­ti­ple gen­er­a­tions, are torn in this election. Valdez said she and her 11 sib­lings are all over the map on the cam­paign. Erin Ruiz’s fam­ily is also di­vided. The high school teacher is a Clin­ton sup­porter but she, too, avoids dis­cussing pol­i­tics around fam­ily or even at lo­cal cof­fee shops. “There’s no con­ver­sa­tion be­tween the two sides,” Ruiz said. — AP

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