Latino Voices in American Politics Make Our Growth Matter

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Presently, only 69% of adult Latinos are eligible to vote because the other share of adult Latinos are not legal citizens of the United States.

If every undocumented immigrant had cast a vote for President Obama in 2012, he would have won Arizona, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. That is an estimated 7.1 million potential votes for politicians to vie for if all undocumented immigrants currently residing in the United States were made citizens. Another 5.4 million Latinos are permanent legal residents who have not received their citizenship yet.

On the other hand, most Hispanic children in America were born in the United States, and 94% percent are citizens. Eight hundred thousand Latinos turn 18 every year. As young Latinos reach voting age, the Hispanic share of eligible voters will begin to catch up with the Hispanic share of the population.

One way or another, the Hispanic vote matters and will only become more influential. But in order for our growth to mean anything, we need to realize that we deserve to be a part of the conversation about America’s future.

The breadth of Hispanic influence on this nation from politics to pop culture is truly astounding, but for some reason, many Latinos are not empowered to participate. In the last presidential election, only 48% of eligible Latino voters turned out to vote. The voter turnout rate among blacks and non-Hispanic whites was nearly 20 percent higher.

We must make our growth matter. Latino voices must weigh in on immigration reform, education, health care and everything else that is at stake in each election in order to have the power of those voices live up to their potential.

Natural born or naturalized, Latinos have every right to participate in the American political process, because we are America. We are laborers and lawyers. We are maids and ministers. We are police officers and politicians. We are the face of the Latino electorate.