If Hispanics don’t vote in mid-terms, they shouldn’t complain about healthcare cuts or discrimination

One would think that Hispanics would vote in unprecedented numbers in the Nov. 6 mid-term elections to punish President Trump for his cuts in healthcare benefits for the poor, his cruel separation of immigrant families and his statements depicting Latin American immigrants as dangerous criminals. Yet, polls show a surprising apathy among Latino voters.

How can that be?

The most common explanation is that the economy is doing well, and unemployment is at record lows. But it is also true that Trump’s economic policies have mostly benefited the rich, and that the U.S. unemployment rate started falling dramatically in 2009.

So why would Latino voters stay at home on Election Day? It may be part of a historic trend. While the number of eligible Latino voters has risen by 4 million over the past four years — there are now more than 29 million Latino voters, or nearly 13 percent of all eligible voters — Hispanic turnout has always been low.

Only 27 percent of Hispanic voters cast their ballots in the 2014 mid-term elections, compared with 46 percent of white voters, according to the Pew Research Center. This time may be no different, pollsters say.

“Democrats have a problem with Latino voters,” a CNN website headline warned this week, noting that the Democratic Party — the favorite among U.S. Latinos — may underperform because of low turnout among Latinos.

“What could ruin a big blue wave? Donald Trump seems to have evaded Hispanic voters’ wrath,” read another headline in The New York Times. A Times-Siena cross of polls shows that 58 percent of white registered voters say they are “almost certain” to vote this November, compared with 50 percent of African Americans and only 43 percent of Hispanic voters.

Considering the way Trump is treating Hispanics, the lack of greater voter enthusiasm among that demographic is mind-boggling.

Remember, Trump started his presidential campaign depicting most undocumented Mexican immigrants as “criminals” and “rapists,” promised to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and vowed to make Mexico pay for it.

As president, he has called El Salvador and Haiti “shithole countries,” and said undocumented immigrants “infest our country” — language reminiscent of that used in Nazi Germany against the Jews.

Trump has separated thousands of Latin American immigrant children from their parents, placing infants in cages. He sent much less aid to Puerto Rico than to Texas and Florida after their respective hurricanes last year. He is making it increasingly harder for legal U.S. residents to become U.S. citizens, contradicting his earlier claims that he was only against “illegal” immigration.

Much of Trump’s fixation with immigration is cheap populist demagoguery. The number of undocumented immigrants has fallen dramatically over the past few decades. While there were 12.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the country in 2007, the figure has fallen gradually in recent years to 11.3 million today, according to the Pew Research Center.

The only increase in undocumented arrivals has been from Central American children who are sent by their parents to find a better life, or to save them from gang violence. But Trump is demonizing the migrants, instead of encouraging trade and investments to help Central American countries improve their economies and fight gang and drug violence.

In an effort to rally his base before the mid-term elections, Trump recently tweeted about an alleged “assault on our country by Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, whose leaders are doing little to stop this large flow of people, INCLUDING MANY CRIMINALS.”

Stirring hatred against Latino immigrants is not a side-show of Trump’s populism — it’s the core of it. And it has led to a sharp rise in hate crimes against Hispanics. A California State University in San Bernardino found a 176 percent increase in hate crimes against Latinos in the largest U.S. cities in the first two weeks after the 2016 elections.

If Latinos don’t turn out massively to the polls on Nov. 6 and vote Democratic, Trump will control all branches of government, and there will be virtually no checks on Trump’s anti-immigration, anti-trade, anti-environment, anti-women, and anti-Latino agenda. Hispanics who fail to vote would have nobody to blame but themselves.

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