A maturing Latino electorate is forming coalitions and gaining allies outside political parties

LatinaLista — Given the fact that the U.S. Census now confirms that the Latino population stands at 50.5 million, having grown 43 percent between 2000 and 2010, it’s odd that the GOP leadership is still trying to figure out if the Latino community-at-large is their amigo or enemigo.

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It’s a decision the GOP will have to arrive at on their own because the days of waiting for approval or instructions to follow a national party line are over for Latinos. We’re witnessing more Latinos, conservatives and liberals, breaking with so-called protocol to call their leadership out when it comes to making derogatory statements and innuendos about Latinos and Latino immigrants.

As a professor at the University of Notre Dame recently told his audience:

“Right now as we listen to political leaders around the country there seems to be an equation: If you’re Latino you’re an immigrant; if you’re an immigrant you’re illegal; if you’re illegal you’re a criminal,” Brown-Gort said.

It’s that kind of mindset among some politicians that have Latinos in various communities creating their own alliances with groups previously considered too different to have commonalities with Latinos.

For example, in more cities across the country, from Los Angeles eastward, Latinos and Jews are joining together to form coalitions to tackle community issues like high school dropouts, teen pregnancy, illegal immigration, civil rights, etc.

Over the weekend in San Antonio, Texas, city Latino and Jewish leaders met to discuss their common goals for the city:

Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros was co-chair for the conference and is a driving force for this new coalition. He forsees other cities also creating a formal alliance and that together there would be a national alliance around shared interests in expanding educational opportunities, advocating for immigration reform and supporting efforts to fight racism whether against Jews, Hispanics or other minorities.

Latinos are also joining as members of broader coalitions to start implementing a voice that has barely been used outside issues deemed to be “Hispanic.”

For example, the Latino Coalition has joined with the NAACP, the National Education Association, the Black Chamber of Commerce and the Consumer Federation of America to express mutual reservations about proposed debit card fees.

The increased participation of Latinos in forming or joining coalitions underscores the growing political maturity of the Latino electorate and the understanding — there’s not only strength in numbers but strength in allies.

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