Gelet Fragela: Hispanic Clout is Growing in Our Elections and Our Country

As the second-largest ethnic group in the United States and the sixth-largest economy in the world, Hispanics do not need special treatment. We just need equal treatment.

Consider the issue of voter ID laws, which the left insists are somehow designed to disenfranchise Hispanic voters.

UCLA election law professor Franita Tolson lashed out against voter ID laws during a September 23 Senate committee hearing on the Voting Rights Act, telling U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Tex., that such statutory requirements disproportionately affected Latino voters.

When Cruz asked Tolson what made the Texas voter ID laws racist, she replied, “The fact that the voter ID law was put into place to diminish the political power of Latinos with racist intent.”

Many Latinos who now reside and vote lawfully in American elections found their way to the United States by traveling throughout the rainforests, jungles, and dangerous corridors of South and Central America. Cubans risked their lives drifting across 100 miles of treacherous water to reach freedom.

It is insulting that anyone would suggest such determined people would have difficulty finding their way to the Department of Motor Vehicles or filling out a U.S. passport application to obtain a government ID.

Unfortunately, many mainstream media outlets – especially Spanish-language outlets that cater primarily to first- and second-generation immigrants – only present one perspective, depicting Hispanics as helpless victims instead of empowering us with accurate, unbiased information.

Today, there are more than 62.1 million Hispanics in the United States, making Latinos the second-largest ethnic population in America. That number is nearly half the population of Mexico and more than the entire population of Central America, which includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

As of 2019, 91 percent of U.S.-born Hispanics speak proficient English, a 10 percent increase from the previous decade, while 72 percent of Hispanics in total and 37 percent of Latino immigrants can also speak proficient English, according to a 2020 Pew Research Center Study.

The Hispanic growth rate of 23 percent is faster than the overall U.S. growth rate, and 80 percent of Latinos are now American citizens while 42 percent have had some college experience.

Those numbers hardly suggest Latinos are a disaffected, powerless minority. On the contrary, Hispanic Americans are one of the most, if not the most powerful political group in the U.S. Both Democratic and Republican political strategists have repeatedly conceded Latinos will often be the swing vote that can make or break a candidate.

We deserve to be treated as discerning, discriminating voters with a variety of interests and preferences, not as a monolithic voting bloc. That’s why I started ADN America – to offer Latinos a news source with a balanced perspective that they could consume in both English and Spanish.

The Latino vote made up about 13 percent of the total ballots cast in 2020, and many electorally consequential areas have even larger concentrations of Latino voters.

Although once a reliable base for Democrats, Hispanics are quickly gravitating toward the center and conservatism, giving them the same sort of swing vote power U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and former U.S. Associate Justice Sandra Day O’Connor once had on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Census data reveal there are 234 U.S. counties in which the population is 30 percent or more Hispanic. Former President Donald Trump did better in 2020 than he did in 2016 in those counties, such as Miami-Dade County, which boasts significant Cuban, Colombian, Nicaraguan and Venezuelan populations.

Joe Biden won Florida’s most populous county of Miami-Dade by only seven percentage points, compared with the 30-point margin boasted by Hillary Clinton 2016, largely due to his underperformance among Latinos. As the Washington Post noted, “the Republican surge in Miami-Dade sent shockwaves down the ballot,” unseating two Democratic members of Congress.

Those facts do not demonstrate U.S. Hispanics are a disaffected, disempowered minority who need special treatment or protection. On the contrary, they show that Hispanics are an extremely powerful and significant part of the American population who are taking part in shaping America’s future. We deserve to be treated that way.

Gelet Martínez Fragela is the founder and editor-in-chief of ADN America, a new nationwide news organization dedicated to the fastest-growing demographic in America, Hispanics and Latinos. Fragela is a Cuban political refugee and former child actress committed to upholding the common values of Hispanics that are enshrined in the foundation of America.

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