The Latino vote isn’t nearly as powerful as it could be. Among registered voters, Hispanics are much less likely to turn out for elections than whites or African-Americans. What’s more, there are millions of Hispanic legal residents who are eligible for citizenship but have neglected to apply for naturalization. Several of the nation’s leading Latino community groups have made increasing political engagement among these Americans a top priority for years. But it’s possible that none have done more for the cause of Hispanic-American enfranchisement than Donald J. Trump.
The New York Times reports that naturalization applications increased by 11 percent in 2015, jumping 14 percent in the final six months of the year, after Trump announced his candidacy. Although naturalization rates tend to get a pre-election-year boost, 2015 far outstripped 2011. And the Donald appears to be driving the surge.
“I want to vote so Donald Trump won’t win,” Hortensia Villegas, a legal immigrant from Mexico, told the paper. “He doesn’t like us.”
At a recent GOP debate, Trump said Hispanic Americans are “incredible people.” But the mogul’s plan to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants, along with his infamous suggestion that Mexicans are disproportionately rapists, has left Latinos seeing him as … less than incredible. Last month, a Washington Post poll of the Hispanic electorate found 80 percent of such voters had an unfavorable view of Trump. As more legal residents like Hortensia Villegas enter that electorate, those numbers could get even worse for the Republican front-runner.