The 2.2 million eligible Hispanic voters in Florida are a key for President Donald Trump to stay in the White House. These numbers are bound to rise after increasing by 6.2 percent since the 2016 election.
In a news conference at the AFL-CIO center in Miami Springs, the Florida Democratic party gathered diverse members of South Florida’s Latino community to tell the largest minority electorate to vote out Trump in 2020.
Latino Democrats wanted to reiterate support for the party ahead of the first Democratic presidential debates in Miami on Wednesday and Thursday, with the intent of denouncing the Trump administration and congressional Republicans, which they argued has hurt their communities through hard line immigration policies and political pandering.
“I have seen the way he has politicized the Venezuelan cause,” said Luisana Pérez, the Hispanic communications director for the Florida Democratic Party. “We’re seeing how he is deporting and detaining Venezuelans in the United States.”
Pérez said that the Trump administration has neglected to support Venezuelans through granting Temporary Protected Status for Venezuelan migrants trying to reach the United States, and that has also made it harder for Cuban families to be reunited.
Beyond this, Pérez said Trump’s 2017 tax plan and desire to end the Affordable Care Act are things that have harmed the Latino community.
The president is only repeating the same populist rhetoric that Venezuelans fled from in Nicolas Maduro’s regime, she said.
“Although people often think that Cuban Americans are somehow privileged by [immigration] policy, that may have been true, but under this administration Cuban Americans are being deported in larger and larger numbers,” said Frank Mora, a Cuban-American professor of politics and international relations at Florida International University and director of the Kimberly Green Latin American and Caribbean Center.
There are currently 37,000 Cubans with deportation orders, and the number of deported Cubans rose from 64 to 2016 to 464 in 2018. He said that this includes immigrants who did not commit crimes, according to Mora.
The Cuban Family Reunification Parole Program to reunite Cuban Americans with families on the island was suspended under the Trump administration because of a lack of U.S. embassy staff in Cuba, which affects 20,000 people, he added.
WLRN previously reported that the number of Cuban nationals detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement has increased considerably.
Mayra Macías, vice president of the political advocacy group Latino Victory Fund, cited a poll from Univision that shows two of three Latinos will vote for a Democrat in the upcoming elections.
She said it was “laughable” that the Latinos for Trump coalition would be kicking off its actions the next day, since she said there is scarce Latino support for the president here.
“If Trump wins, Latinos will lose,” Macías said.
Long-time Doral resident and immigrant rights organizer Gina Romero immigrated from Colombia 18 years ago, and she said that Republican legislation such as Senate Bill 168, an anti “sanctuary city” law, has frightened undocumented Latino immigrants in their daily lives.
Romero said she disagrees with Trump that the Latino community supports him.
“I think he is in for a big disappointment,” Romero said. “That is going to be reflected in the 2020 elections, because whether you want it or not, the Latino vote is going to hold a lot of weight.”
The couple million eligible Latino voters in Florida do not account for other Latin Americans such as Haitians and Brazilians, who represent meaningful voting blocs in the state. Trump and other Republicans will have to count on their support to stay in office.