Local and national evangelical leaders with the National Latino Evangelical Coalition kicked off the Nuestro Futuro voter registration campaign this week in Florida, launching a drive to register Latino evangelical youth for the 2012 election.
At a rally in Orlando, speakers discussed the importance of engaging the youth of the nation’s fastest growing demographic. Though youth might feel that their vote doesn’t count for much or that they can make a change, speakers said, it is crucial for young Hispanic evangelicals to be educated on matters like poverty, immigration, and education.
One issue that Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, asked students to fight for was comprehensive immigration reform.
“We’re in favor of immigration reform and we want it now,” Fox News Latino reported Salguero saying. He explained that the country’s roughly 11 million Latino evangelicals share this feeling based “on the Bible and moral and just laws.”
According to the Orlando Sentinel, Salguero says that the Coalition isn’t endorsing any particular candidate or political party. They just want young Hispanic evangelicals to be more aware of the issues and to care enough to vote.
However, Salguero cautioned, immigration reform is a topic very important to the Latino community (polls have consistently shown that a plurality of Latino voters nationwide rank immigration as their first or second most important concern), which means that “anyone who seeks to create an obstacle to immigration reform will not see a passionate support from Latinos,” according to Salguero.
Florida is notorious for being a key swing state, chased after by Democrats and Republicans alike. This year it is also a key Republican primary state, with Mitt Romney and the other GOP contenders slated to head there at the end of January, after the South Carolina primary. As the Latino population and Latino youth population grow in the Sunshine State—over 4 million Latinos call Florida home—the constituency is bound to be a powerful political force.
Within the next few weeks, the Coalition will also travel to states such as Ohio, Arizona, and Pennsylvania, where Hispanics are most likely to have an impact at the polls.