Why Latinos Cannot Afford To ‘Opt Out’ From Voting In This Year’s Midterm Elections

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President Obama’s summer delay on a temporary executive solution to immigration sparked large backlash from activists and supports of immigration reform, especially among prominent Latino organizations.

United We Dream immediately stated that because of his action (or lack thereof), “President Barack Obama has further cemented his legacy as the #DeporterInChief by delaying the usage of his executive authority to stop the deportation of millions of immigrants.” The move has also been called President Obama’s “latest betrayal of the Latino community.” In fact, President Obama’s delay on immigration this summer isn’t the first time the president has backtracked on his promises regarding immigration.

Soon after the delay this summer, numerous activists and organizations began to push forward with the idea that Latinos should withhold support from Democrats until something is done about immigration — in retaliation to President Obama. That our community should simply opt out from voting and sit out from this year’s midterm elections.

Yet, this makes absolutely no sense.

Sitting out this election does nothing for our community but further perpetuate the ignorant beliefs that Latinos don’t care, that Latinos don’t vote, and that Latinos will never truly be an important voting bloc.

Dolores Huerta, a long-time influential figure among Latinos, had this important reminder to share with our community concerning immigration:

“We have to look at the big picture and don’t get caught up in saying we want it now,” said Huerta, referring to immigration. “We’ve been waiting—we are a community that can wait. And we have to have faith in our president, because the Republicans have shown their hand. We know what they want to do.”

Huerta and other civil rights leaders know the struggles minorities have faced in this country to have our rights be recognized. Minorities in this country did not fight long and hard for so many years to have our right to vote be recognized, for our community to simply opt out from voting. To this day, minorities are still fighting to freely exercise our constitutional right to vote.

No one should ever be discouraged from casting their vote — it is our individual voice in our democracy. Shame on any who wish to silent us.

As many of our readers well know, the Texas Republicans’ war on women and women’s reproductive rights adversely affects women of color in our state — particularly, low-income Latina women that live along our state’s border. Add to this issue: budget cuts on our education system, fighting to repeal the ACA, opposing medicaid and medicare expansion, opposing an increase in minimum wage, fighting to prevent Latinos from even having the opportunity to vote, etc. And we know where Republicans stand on immigration.

In all, Republicans are working really hard to undermine and oppress the Latino community in almost every way imaginable — and, will continue to do so given even the smallest of opportunity. When we don’t vote, it is not rebellion — it is surrendering. By our community withholding support from Democrats and opting out from voting in this year’s elections, we are sending a loud message to those that wish to cause harm to our community — we are giving them consent to go right ahead and continue do so.

Why should our community let Republicans get away with this?

Immigration is without a doubt a very important issue. Yet, it remains to be one issue of so many more that Latinos need to be concerned about this election. Our community cannot afford to remain silent. Yes, be angry. Absolutely. But take that frustration out into the voting polls, where it will make a difference. If retribution is what people seek this election, make sure it’s done against the right officials — against the Republican Party.

Follow Omar on Twitter at @AraizaTX.

About Author

Omar Araiza

Staff writer Omar Araiza covers immigration, Latino voters, the U.S.-Mexico border, and LGBT issues. He is a proud South Texas native, born and raised in the lower Rio Grande Valley. Omar tweets from @AraizaTX.

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