Respect and Dignity: Make the Road New York, Make the Road Action Fund

New Report Shows Latino NY Voters as Potential Difference-makers in November State, Congressional Elections

Media Release

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

For Immediate Release

Press Contact
Daniel Altschuler:

New Report Shows Latino NY Voters as Potential Difference-makers in November State, Congressional Elections

“Critical Mass,” released by Make the Road Action, shows 12 percent of statewide electorate is Latino, with substantial numbers in key swing districts

New York, NY (10/12/16)—Today, immigrant advocacy organization Make the Road Action (MRA) released a new report demonstrating the growing strength of the Latino electorate in New York and its likely impact on November elections for State Senate and US House of Representatives. MRA released “Critical Mass: Latino Voters Poised to Make the Difference in New York’s November State and Congressional Elections,” (available for download here) at a press briefing that presented the data and featured Latino voters sharing why they are motivated to vote this November.

“Critical Mass” finds that Latinos constitute 12 percent of the statewide electorate—people of color overall are 31 percent of the electorate. While many view New York City, where 28.6% of the population are Latino, as the Empire State’s Latino center, established and growing Latino centers exist throughout New York State. On Long Island, Latinos account for 14.6% of the population in Nassau County and 16.5% of the population in Suffolk County, and account for roughly one tenth of the registered voters in key State Senate districts. In the lower Hudson Valley, cities like White Plains and Newburgh, where 29.6% and 47.9%, respectively, of the population are Latino have seen large increases in the Latino population, as well as substantial growth in registered voters. 

Testimonies in the report and the briefing highlighted what national and state data have demonstrated: that Latinos are naturalizing and registering en masse, fueled in large part by the anti-immigrant campaign of Donald Trump and other anti-immigrant candidates. As Marlenis de los Santos, a registered Long Island and member of Make the Road Action who has become more motivated to vote since Donald Trump began his anti-immigrant campaign, said, “I’m going to vote this year to make myself heard and felt as a Latina woman standing up for my community. We are a nation that is supposed to protect us all, even if Republicans standing with Donald Trump don’t want to see that reality. The tremendous injustice, disrespect, insecurity, and racism our community is facing makes me feel more motivated than ever—not just to vote, but to work to get out the vote in my community.”

As New Yorkers prepare to head to the ballot in November, they will turn out in large numbers for the presidential race. But given New York’s status as a reliable Democratic stronghold in presidential elections, the votes of those in the Empire State will have the greatest impact on contested congressional and state elections. With highly competitive races expected on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley and Upstate New York, small margins will likely be decisive. In these contests, the growing Latino electorate—which has been increasingly turned off to Republicans following the support of Donald J. Trump by party leaders Ed Cox and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, as well as prominent figures like Congressman Lee Zeldin and other rank-and-file figures—could be decisive.


Javier H. Valdés, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road Action, noted: “This report shows that Latino voters are becoming difference-makers in districts that will likely determine the balance of power in Albany in 2017. Our community is naturalizing, registering, and is poised to vote against Trump and down-ballot Trumpism in November. We will do everything we can to make sure that our communities get to the polls to defeat anti-immigrant immigrant candidates for President, Congress, and the State legislature and make our voices heard for respect and dignity for all.”


Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, New York City Councilmember (D-Queens), said: "Latinos are growing in political power, and we will continue to vote to represent our communities interests and needs until they are heard. This report shows what many across the state and country already know - Latinos have the power to be the difference between candidates winning and losing. I appreciate all of the work by Make the Road Action to educate and motivate voters and turn them out to cast their ballots on November 8th."  


State Senator Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx), asserted: "The results of this election season will have a drastic impact on the direction both our country and state will take for generations to come. As a community that contributes significantly to the economic and social fabric of our state, we need to ensure that those running for office respect the Latino community and are committed to working on the issues that matter to us most. Not only does this report demonstrate that the Latino vote continues to grow, but also that as a community we are taking the necessary steps to ensure our voice is heard."


State Senator Jose Peralta (D-Queens), said, "The sleeping giant is awake, quite awake, and this November, we are ready, as Latinos, to keep on making history. We were able to come out of the shadows, and now we vote, we get elected to public office, we become judges, commissioners, teachers and lawyers. And this November, the Latino vote, as it is increasing year after year, will be crucial in our efforts to make a difference in the New York State Senate and move forward our progressive agenda, making, for example, the DREAM Act a reality. This is a great chance for us to fight against those individuals championing anti-immigrant rhetoric. We will continue to push hard to fight against racism and discrimination, and an ideal way to do this is going to the polls and making your vote count." 


The report also contains recommendations for Democrats, who have not always shown leadership on Latino and immigrant priorities. To deepen bonds with the Latino community and take advantage of the political opportunity offered to them this campaign cycle, Democrats should invest in Latino engagement and advocate strongly for pro-Latino and -immigrant policies, which would make Republican candidates pay a stiff price in November.


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Make the Road Action builds political power rooted in working class Latino communities, promotes policy solutions that improve the lives of all New Yorkers, and strengthens the movement for justice through electoral and grassroots organizing to advance progressive political and policy change.

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