Actress America Ferrera Mobilizes Latino Vote

18By Soni Brown

Under a large American flag Emmy Awards-winning actress America Ferrera encouraged College of Southern Nevada Latinos to use their votes to revolutionize politics in the United States.

Ferrera was key-note speaker at the Voto Latino event held on CSN’s Cheyenne campus Feb. 11. The event was meant to educate and mobilize the Latino vote prior to Nevada caucuses. Ferrera is co-chairperson of Voto Latino, a civic media organization that uses grass-root tactics to engage and educate Latinos to become agents of change, according to its website.

“I couldn’t be more proud to be asked to come out and have these conversations with you,” said Ferrera, star of “Superstore,” “Real Women Have Curves” and “Ugly Betty.”

“Our community is being tested by people who are going out there saying really hateful, racist, extreme things about our community,” Ferrera said. “They’re fear mongering.”

Last August Ferrera penned an editorial denouncing the statements of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump. Trump sparked outrage when he referred to Latinos as being drug smugglers and rapists at a press conference announcing his presidential bid.

When asked about Trump, Ferrera said, “We are here to create political consequence through the Latino vote for any candidate who thinks they can run for president on a platform of hate.”

Ferrera was inspired by her Honduran-born single mother and taught to become politically active. She was empowered to use her voice to inspire other Latinos to use theirs.

“The story that we have been told as first-generation immigrants, as undocumented people, as Latino Americans is that we don’t show up and we don’t care enough and we are disenfranchised and we are too poor to care and it is not going to make a difference and an impact,” Ferrera said.

Rally attendee and mother-of-two Ana Olivas came to learn more about the organization and the upcoming election. “I am basically looking for somebody to help us raise awareness, maybe somebody to speak for us so we can succeed.”

CSN’s Latino-student enrollment is the fastest growing demographic in the College. The 2014 student census reports 27 percent are Latino or partially Latino. Recently CSN became a Hispanic Serving Institution due to this fact.

These statistics are reflective of Clark County as a whole. Latinos are approximately 30 percent of residents in Nevada according to a recent U.S. census. This exceeds the national average of 17 percent.

The Pew Research Center’s 2011 demographic profile shows that 59 percent of Latinos in the State are natural-born citizens and therefore eligible to vote.

CSN’s Latin American history, culture and politics Professor Sondra Cosgrove said, “Nevada will be the first state in the presidential candidate nomination process on both sides with a sizable Latino voter population. The caucuses will give us a clue as to which party Latino voters prefer and whether that preference can translate into enough votes to swing the election Democratic or Republican.”

She adds a comment that Latinos will also determine local elections if the turnout is sizable.

This is all the more reason why Ferrera told the audience that they have the power and the numbers to achieve political influence.

“I just know that in my deepest heart—my belief—my dream is that when we show up…our lives will change,” Ferrera said.

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