By Eliza Collins
January 26, 2016
A Hispanic outreach group has ratcheted up its efforts to ensure that Iowa's Latino community turns out to caucus next Monday — and to ensure they don't vote for Donald Trump.
The League of United Latin American Citizens of Iowa is aiming to get 10,000 Hispanics to commit to caucus by Feb. 1, and are hoping that the growing number of young Hispanics turning 18 and Trump's fiery rhetoric about immigration will result in a big turnout.
“We have not had the capacity to really have an impact significantly until now,” Joe Enriquez Henry, LULAC’s national vice president of the Midwest told POLITICO. “There’s this significant population that’s coming of age, young people becoming age 18 every year now, they’re becoming registered voters. They understand the importance."
The outreach campaign comes as the number of Hispanics who are eligible to vote hit the highest number yet: 27.3 million, according to new data released by Pew Research Center. Nearly half of those eligible to vote are millennials (44 percent).
LULAC is nonpartisan, but that doesn't mean they're staying completely neutral. Henry said the business mogul topping the polls is a big reason they're kicking up their outreach.
“They [Iowa’s young Hispanics] realize the importance especially with the hate that is being promoted, Trump has exposed the hidden anger that some Americans have about us – which is a lie. We’re not going to tolerate that,” Henry said.
The group teamed up with other local organizations for a protest Tuesday afternoon in Marshalltown, Iowa, where Trump will be holding a rally. Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, known for his hardline stance on immigration, is expected to endorse Trump at the rally, and his impending appearance has already generated controversy. Marshalltown has one of the highest Hispanic populations in the state — 24 percent according to the most recent U.S. Census numbers.
After the protest, the group will host a voter registration and caucus training. Representatives from the campaigns of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will be on hand to answer questions about the process and their candidates, though their appearances are separate from the Trump protest.
The group has also teamed up with Des Moines Public Schools to talk about the election process specific to Iowa, but that move has received some blowback.
“This is such a great way to have other people come in — different voices — to come in and talk about what civic engagement looks like,” said Amber Graeber, who is the K-12 social studies curriculum and AP program coordinator at Des Moines Public Schools.
Graeber said that having LULAC in the classroom to talk about the process isn’t about focusing on Hispanics, but rather just another avenue for students to learn about the political process. But, she adds, she’s heard criticism from some parents who feel like the school is promoting a pro-immigrant agenda.
She said that the school district is heavily minority, but that the demographics aren't reflected in the staff, so having “maybe somebody who looks like them who has said it“ could help students connect with the process better.
“It’s another voice to come in really close to the caucus to engage and inspire and excite kids,” she added.
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