Volunteers make the last effort previous to election day
Raquel Cetz was only 2 years old when she was brought to the United States without proper immigration documents. Now aged 20, she attends California State University — Northridge majoring in Chicano Studies and working at the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
She can do so because in 2012 President Obama signed the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action that has allowed 600,000 people like Cetz to get an official ID card or drivers license, work and go to college. Republican candidate Donald Trump has promised that if he becomes the 44th President of the United States, one of his first actions will be the deportation of the people who work in the country without proper documentation and the elimination of the DACA.
Right now Cetz volunteers as many hours as she can at the phone banks of CHIRLA, calling people and explaining the importance of their participation in the November 8th elections.
“Imagine that one day you wake up and you can’t go to work, you can’t go to school and do all those things that you need to do to support yourself and your family,” said Cetz, who was brought to this country from Yucatan, Mexico. “Going out to vote is always very important, but I believe that this time we should be more concerned and we have to make sure people cast their vote.”
More than 30 volunteers like Cetz at work the CHIRLA office in downtown Los Angeles every day making phone calls. They also walk the streets, knocking on doors and talking with the families about voting in the election.
On Election Day, some volunteers will drive people who do not have any means of transportation to the polling places.
Mario Lopez, director of the phone bank at CHIRLA, said that they have been working nearly every day for more than a month, reaching out to people making sure they are voting on Tuesday.
“Our message here is to convince people to go out and vote,” said Lopez, who explained that CHIRLA also encourages voting to support Propositions: 55 (a tax extension to fund education and healthcare); 56 (a cigarette tax), and 57 (allowing parole for nonviolent felons).
CHIRLA calls approximately 3,000 people per day and they have noticed that there is some disappointment because of the options they have on the ballot this election. But, he emphasizes that people are still interested in the election because at least one candidate is generating a lot of division among people.
Even though the organization is nonpartisan and does not talk about candidates or parties, it is obvious that a lot of Latinos got involved in the election process or are willing to vote because of their concerns about Donald Trump, who has made inflammatory comments against many minority groups including women, Muslims and Latinos, especially Mexicans.
A study by the Pew Research Center indicates that 27.3 million Latinos are eligible to vote, and their commitment to participate on election day is higher this time with 67% compared with the 61% four years ago, when only 11.2 million decided to make it to the polls.
According with Catalist, a data company that works with progressive candidates, early participation results in Florida, Georgia and North Carolina show that the Latino vote is up compared to 2012.
This information supports the point of view of some Latino activists that expect a higher participation from the community in this election thanks to Trump; this means it could reach 15 million voters this coming Tuesday.
Deborah Lona, another volunteer at CHIRLA, said that she has been helping for almost a month at least 40 hours a week. She is so upset with the Republican candidate that she refused to say his name. “My biggest fear is that the Republican candidate will become President of the United States, and he will start deporting people and dividing families,” said Lona. “We do not have another option, but go out and vote.”