What November Means for the GOP, Democrats and Hispanic Communities?
By: S. Pittman
June 18th, 2018
With upcoming district runoffs taking place all around the state of Georgia in July and the General Elections taking place around the country in November, voting has never seemed more vital. Many would argue that we are living in a time of division. From partisan Washington, to back at home, where debates surrounding immigration, DACA, and refugee settlement policy only reaffirm that we are living in a time where the middle ground isn’t necessarily illustrated through our bodies of government.
However, with many issues at stake, it begs the question-what do the numbers say about who is going to turn out in November to vote?
According to the Pew Research’s Gustavo Lopez and Renee Stepler, the number of eligible Latino voters in the state of Georgia has only increased over the years. Pew Research found that “the number of Latinos registered to vote has nearly tripled since 2004: It rose from 34,000 during the 2004 presidential election to 111,000 during the 2012 presidential election and now stands at 127,000.” While Hispanics only make up a little more than 3% of the Georgia voter population, we have reason to be hopeful for the civic engagement the Hispanic population in Georgia will bring in the future. Pew Research found that “there are 291,000 Hispanic eligible voters in Georgia—the 14th largest Hispanic statewide eligible voter population nationally.”
As Georgia was labeled by some as a swing state during the 2016 Presidential Election, it goes without saying that every vote counts. If the GOP is going to maintain a majority in the Georgia Legislature, they must gain the minority vote. In comparison, if the Democratic Party is going to win state seats, they must mobilize a base that has stayed at home in past elections.
With a gradual increase of Hispanic voters in the state, the issues that we are facing as a country and in the State of Georgia are urgent and have captured the national stoplight.
The Georgia Budget and Policy Institute reported that “the Trump administration appears likely to propose a change to longstanding immigration rules that could lead immigrants lawfully in the U.S. and their U.S. citizen children to forgo critical benefits such as health coverage and food assistance.”
Not only are upcoming battles of immigration policy becoming more prevalent day by day, rhetoric behind immigration reform is also becoming a noted topic. Just this past March the Georgia Legislature attempted to pass what some called “Arizona style” immigration policies. According to WABE’s Elly Yu and Johnny Kauffman, the bill that failed to pass in March would have required “local police, prosecutors, and courts to help with federal immigration enforcement.” In addition, DACA recipients in Georgia would have been at stake, as their Georgia ID would have been marked with special symbols to signify to law enforcement or anyone else who would need their ID that their status is other than a citizen.
Although H.B 258 (DACA Scarlett letter for Driver License) and S.B. 452 (mass deportation bill) were defeated by our strong immigration coalition, it was the voice of voters that cultivated an awareness that seemingly resulted in the fall of the bill.
So where are we now?
It goes without saying that in the state of Georgia, progress has been made. With an increase in Hispanic voters, the act of voting is becoming even more important than ever. With the 2018 Gubernatorial Race upon us and the 2018 nationwide midterm elections, we must urge our neighbors, friends, and family members to spread the word and vote.
Civil rights icon and Georgia Congressional Caucus Member, Rep. John Lewis, stated that “The vote is the most powerful, non-violent tool we have in a democratic society. We must not allow the power of the vote to be neutralized. We must never go back.”
With issues at stake, the GOP and Democratic Parties aiming to have a strong showing in upcoming elections, and partisanship taking place in multiple levels of government, the power of the vote seem to be the key factor in predicting the route we take as a country when it comes to immigration policy. The issues at stake such as the infamous “wall” funding to finding a solution for DACA affects Hispanic communities all around the county. It will be up to voters come November to choose which direction the narrative will go.
Yu, Elly, and Johnny Kauffman. “New Georgia Immigration Enforcement Measure ‘Worst’ Yet, Advocates Say.” 90.1 FM WABE, 28 Mar. 2018, www.wabe.org/new-georgia-immigration-enforcement-measure-worst-yet-advocates-say/.
Owens, Jennifer. “Proposed Rule Change Threatens Legal Immigrants, U.S.-Born Children.” Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, 6 June 2018, gbpi.org/2018/proposed-rule-change-threatens-legal-immigrants-american-born-children/.
López, Gustavo, and Anna Brown. “Latinos in the 2016 Election: Georgia.” Pew Research Center’s Hispanic Trends Project, 19 Jan. 2016, www.pewhispanic.org/fact-sheet/latinos-in-the-2016-election-georgia/.
NOTE: The opinions expressed in this blog are the opinions of the author only. It is not to be assumed that the opinions are those of GALEO or the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund. For the official position on any issue for GALEO, please contact Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO at firstname.lastname@example.org.