'Do-or-die moment': Latino Biden supporters canvass in battleground states against Trump

In battleground states like Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas and Florida, Latino Democrats canvass neighborhoods in effort to boost support for Biden.

10/29/2020 3:51:00 PM

In battleground states like Wisconsin, Arizona, Texas and Florida, Latino Democrats canvass neighborhoods in effort to boost support for Biden.

'If we don't go out there and he wins, can you imagine how this community is going to live after Election Day?' said one volunteer in Wisconsin.

from their parents to deter immigration.Miguel Martinez, 34, of San Antonio, helped ensure that Texas Organizing project canvassers were OK to go door to door to turn out Latino voters in the city for Joe Biden.Suzanne Gamboa / NBC NewsBut organizers are also hustling for Democratic Latino votes because Trump has held on to solid shares of Hispanics around the country, with polls showing that he has gained in battleground states like Florida. Trump's Latino supporters extol his economic record before the coronavirus and his anti-abortion stand, and some support his immigration record.

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Hispanics are the second-largest voting group behind whites — with 32 million eligible voters — and Latino voters' turnout increased significantly in the 2018 midterms. But this year, the coronavirus put a stop to large voter registration events and get-out-the-vote rallies.

Latinos were less likely to say they were extremely motivated to vote than U.S. voters overall,, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey.Enter the canvassers.Latinos are 4.2 percent of eligible voters in Wisconsin, according to the Pew Research Center — about 183,000 people. Trump won Wisconsin in 2016 by just 22,748 votes.

Wisconsin is also one of several key swing states beinghit hard by Covid-19.Raquel Alvarado, 39, of Green Bay, is one of Covid-19's victims. She tested positive in April and lost work for three weeks at an American Foods meat plant. She tested positive again two days after she returned to work in May.

Now healthy, Alvarado has a different job, and she has also been canvassing for three weeks as a volunteer with Voces de la Frontera Action, the political arm of a Latino, immigrant and workers advocacy group. With her sister-in-law, they have knocked on 700 doors, she said.

Alvarado, who became a citizen three years ago, said she has siblings who are undocumented. It is for those relatives that she endures cold temperatures and snow — on top of humiliation and cursing from Trump supporters.One Trump supporter said Trump is"going to take all of you out of this country — you should go back to Mexico."

Raquel Alvarado, 39, of Green Bay, Wis., is canvassing with her sister-in-law in snow and cold to turn out Latinos to vote for Joe Biden.Courtesy Raquel AlvaradoAlvarado canvasses from 11 a.m. to 5:30 or 6 p.m., and the work isn't easy. Many people she encounters can't read or write or aren't familiar with the issues. She still deals with some of the effects of Covid-19.

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But this is a do-or-die moment, she said."He doesn't want to do anything for our people," she said about Trump."He doesn't care. If we don't go out there and he wins, can you imagine how this community is going to live after Election Day and he's made president for four years more?"

Mi Familia Vota, a national Latino advocacy group that has canvassed in Latino neighborhoods for many elections, launched its #BastaTrump field campaign in August, a nearly $14 million push to get Trump out of office. The group has canvassers out in Florida, Texas, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and California, and this year it expanded its digital and traditional media

advertisingin English and Spanish beyond those six states to Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin."It was important for us to be in the neighborhoods, because our community needs us," said Héctor Sánchez Barba, executive director and CEO of Mi Familia Vota.

In Arizona, a farmworker turns canvasserBlanca Ramirez, 53, said she's motivated to walk long distances in Arizona as a canvasser for Mi Familia Vota by her grandchildren and the rest of her family. She became a citizen a year ago, and this will be her first presidential election.

"There is a lot of racism here. The president has humiliated us. This makes me want to get voters out even more," she said.Lalo Linares, 27, harvests spinach in Yuma, Arizona, from October through May and then works in California the rest of the time. This year, California's wildfires filled the air over the fields where he worked with smoke and ash, aggravating his asthma.

The 12- to 13-hour-a-day work, more when the orders jump at Christmastime, is the only work that pays him enough to survive, he said.But this year, he decided to delay his return to Yuma's spinach fields by two weeks so he could canvass in Phoenix with the United Farm Workers.

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Oct. 28, 202001:41When a United Farm Workers leader asked Linares why he wanted to volunteer, he pointed to a quote from Cesar Chavez:"We don't need perfect political systems; we need perfect participation.""Nobody is helping them out," Linares said of farmworkers, adding that he thinks Biden can bring a change."A lot of immigrants out there are doing the hardest jobs but are afraid to even talk and feel what they feel."

Read more: MSNBC »

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