Democratic presidential campaigns target Hispanic voters

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton . Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton . Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP

Democrats are reaching out for Hispanic voters ahead of California’s primary election June 7.  Hispanics make up one-third of the state’s adult population, and they are being courted by the campaigns of presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders.

Volunteers have been signing up new voters, canvassing neighbourhoods and calling registered Democrats on the phone. They are motivated partly by presumed Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, who has said that Mexico is sending criminals, including rapists, to the United States among the immigrants who cross the border illegally.

Candidate Trump says he is criticising only those who break the law, and he points to Hispanics who support him. Maria Aguila, who lives near San Francisco, is one of his supporters, saying it is “because we need change.” Aguila says “We need real change this time.”

A Democrat and Clinton supporter at a neighbourhood phone bank near Los Angeles, Maria Alvarado Marquez, finds Trump’s comments offensive. She says that people coming from Latin America and the Muslim world are looking for a better life. “These are all people who want freedom – religious freedom, economic freedoms,” she said, and she says that both groups have been maligned by Trump. This is “probably the most important election of my life,” she added.

Polls show that most Hispanics are alarmed by Trump’s pledge to build a wall along the southern U.S. border. Teacher Stephanie Sandoval says getting to know Hispanic students from families with mixed status gives her pause.

“I’ve been moderate, sometimes conservative on some issues,” she said, “but seeing how those issues affect some people, for example with Donald Trump and building the wall.”
That concern brought her to a sidewalk holding a campaign sign, her first time active in a political contest.

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