Fresno is the at the center of a new statewide Latino voter mobilization campaign, where a local push for change has led to 5,000 new registered voters since April.
Mi Familia Vota, a nonprofit civic engagement organization, is leading the work in Fresno by helping legal permanent residents obtain citizenship, registering new voters and pushing those already registered to get out and vote. California Director Arnulfo De La Cruz said the goal is to hold elected officials accountable for delivering changes, such as comprehensive immigration reform, that the Latino community envisions.
De La Cruz said it has been a historic year for pro-immigrant legislation, noting that California residents now have access to in-state tuition rates, college scholarships and loans, advanced degrees and soon driver’s licenses, regardless of immigration status.
At the same time, De La Cruz said, there is more work to do to secure immigration reform on the federal level.
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“California’s Central Valley is the economic driver, the heart and soul of the agricultural industry in the country,” he said. “Political participation from Latino (citizens) is going to ensure that we fix this broken system.”
The voter mobilization campaign launched last week in Los Angeles under the social media campaign, #EmbraceYourPower. Local leaders, including those from the Latino advocacy nonprofit El Concilio, United Farm Workers Foundation, the Cesar Chavez Planning Committee and Mi Familia Vota, met Wednesday morning to discuss the efforts in Fresno.
De La Cruz said an estimated 45,000 legal permanent residents in Fresno County could become American citizens. Another 50,000 or so local Latino citizens have not registered to vote and 60% of those registered in Fresno County are not consistent voters, he said.
But an estimated 23,000 Latinos turn 18 every month in this state, De La Cruz said. He expects 1 million more Latinos to vote across the county during this mid-term election compared to the last one in 2010.
De La Cruz hopes his organization can register another couple hundred voters before the Oct. 20 deadline for this election. For more information on how to participate, call the national Mi Familia Vota hotline: 888-VE-Y-VOTA (839-8682).