Ahead of Nevada Caucus: Latinos can Change Politics

Voto Latino President and CEO Maria Teresa Kumar (L) and actress America Ferrera talk to students at Rancho High School to discuss the importance of young voters, including Latinos, participating in the civic process on February 11, 2016 in North Las Vegas, Nevada. Nevada’s caucus for the Democratic presidential candidate is on February 20 and the Republicans caucus on February 23.

In the last 10 years, we’ve learned it’s no longer enough to register yourself, we need to bring a friend too.

Last week, my friend and Voto Latino Artist Coalition Co-Chair America Ferrera and I traveled to Las Vegas, ahead of this month’s caucuses, to activate hundreds of young Latinos and remind them of their power and leadership. Nevada is the first state in the election cycle that embodies the changing face and spirit of our country.

America and I spoke to students at Rancho High School, a Latino-majority school where so many students have been personally affected by our country’s harsh immigration enforcement policies. Deportations have left hundreds of students homeless because they come from mixed-status families, meaning that someone in their family is undocumented and has been torn from them.

More than 10 percent of Latinos in the state are undocumented, the highest share throughout the country, making immigration a deeply personal issue to Nevada Latinos.

There is a lot of work ahead. In 2014, only 31 percent of Latinos in Nevada voted, but after listening to the stories of students and young Latino leaders, it’s certainly not because they don’t care. They are hungry to become a part of their country’s democracy and are ready to truly flex their political muscle. And candidates and campaigns must also step up to the plate.

As Voto Latino has done for more than 10 years, we will engage young Latinos, both online and offline, through strategic partnerships, to create a drumbeat of momentum that begins this Saturday in Nevada through November of this year, and beyond.

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