Hispanic Population Struggles for Influence

May 1, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
New statistics from the Census Bureau show the U.S. Hispanic population increased by 20% percent, a whopping ten-million people in just seven years time. Two million of those live in California. It would appear the population surge will lead to greater political clout for the Hispanic community. But Political Science professor Jeffrey Cummins of Fresno state isn't so sure. Cummins said, "Population does not equal political power unless they are showing up at the polls." Cummins notes much of the population increase is attributed to undocumented immigrants. "In terms of political power," Cummins says "Illegal immigrants don't have any because they are not allowed to vote."

But Hispanics who can vote may turn out in big numbers in the next election. Statistics show Hispanic voters made up 31% percent of the vote in the March California primary. That's nearly double the turnout from the 2004 vote.

Alfredo Cuellar, a professor at Fresno State, and a lecturer on Hispanic issues claims Hispanic votes tend to be overwhelmingly Democratic. "Most Hispanics are Democrats and they vote Democrat. Less than 1/8th of the Hispanic vote goes to Republican." Cuellar adds, "Starting with this election the Hispanic vote is going to be crucial and very important. "

But, Cuellar said while the population is growing, the Hispanic community must struggle to gain influence. "At this moment there is not social justice and equity. There is a long, long way to go."

Cuellar said Republicans have lost what little Hispanic support they because of their get tough policies toward immigrants, and support for construction of a wall along the Mexican border.

Immigration issues are behind a rally and March scheduled in downtown Fresno Thursday afternoon.

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