By JENNA GIBSON, Ranger Reporter:
Latino and Hispanic voters could play the largest role they have ever played in a presidential election this year.
Analysts say that the Hispanic voting population has grown significantly and could have a substantial influence on which candidate ends up in the White House.
At Amarillo College, there are currently 3,400 Hispanic students enrolled, which is 43.47 percent of enrollment, according to AC institutional research.
Hispanic students and staff say that they are eager to join the Hispanic and Latino population in becoming a key part of the presidential decision.
Ruth De Anda, an academic adviser, said she feels this election is crucial for Hispanic voters.
“This election, although all should be important, is probably the most important election,” said De Anda. “The voice of the Latino community is extremely important. We have become a majority minority, and we matter. This time, I believe, our voice will be bigger and stronger than before.”
There are many issues that are important to Latino and Hispanic voters at AC, but immigration tops the list for many AC students.
America Adame, a speech communication major, said Hispanic voters are paying close attention to the candidates’ approaches to immigration policies.
“It is likely that the delegate that presents a good case toward immigration will have the loyal vote of the Latino/Hispanic throughout the election,” she said.
Adame said that she comes from a family of immigrants, so she understands the importance of immigration policies.
“I know how this issue being positively addressed can affect the Latino/Hispanic household,” Adame said.
Bridget Hudson, a nursing major, agreed that immigration is a top issue for Hispanic voters.
“If you work hard and you go through the process legally, immigrants should be allowed in the United States from anywhere,” Hudson said.
Alexis Tarango, a secondary education major, said she thinks Donald Trump has alienated Latino voters, which could greatly impact the election.
“With all of the derogatory remarks Donald Trump has made about minorities, Latinos especially, I feel as though he has created a divide in minorities for the election,” Tarango said.
Although Tarrango said she recognizes the importance of the Hispanic vote, she does not identify herself as a Hispanic voter.
“This is the first election I am eligible to vote in and I will be voting. I define myself as a voter–I am no different from any voter. Minority or not, I am a free citizen.”
De Anda, on the other hand, said, “I do define myself as Latino/Hispanic voter. I also define myself as a female voter. When they speak of the ‘women vote’ or the ‘Latino vote,’ I always proudly think, ‘That’s me!’”
De Anda said she is grateful that her voice as a Latina, and especially as a woman, can and will be heard.
“People fought for me to have that right, in particular, women who fought hard for me to stand at that ballot today. I don’t take the 19th Amendment lightly. But no matter how difficult the issues in our country can become, I’m a proud citizen. And I vote for those that can’t, and I vote for my future children.”
De Anda said she hopes all eligible Hispanic/Latino voters will take advantage of their right to cast ballots and impact the outcome of this election.
“We are a strong people, we contribute to this country immensely. We are ready to be heard now more than ever,” said De Anda.