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Representative Dale Folwell on NPR's "All Things Considered"

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Over the next two week's we'll have a series of reports about the role that Latino voters could play in this year's presidential election. We begin today in North Carolina. The latino population there has almost doubled since the year 2000. But that growth has not been accompanied by an increase in political power. That's because only a small percentage of latinos vote. As NPR's Adam Hochberg reports, some latino leaders in NC are trying to address that disparity. Hochberg: During a recent shopping trip to the mall, college student Amber Ramos and her family found something they had been looking for for quite a while. A table where Amber could register to vote. New Voice: Are you 18 or older?... Ok then you can register What's your last name? Ramos: Ramos, *spelling* R-A-M-O-S Hochberg: Amber and her family were at Plaza Fiesta, a shopping center in Charlotte that caters to Hispanics. The Latin American Colation was registering voters there. And Amber, the American born daughter of undocumented Mexican parents, says her mother led her to the registration table Amber: She's been wanting me to vote as years go by. She's like "Oh I can't wait for you to vote! I can't wait for you to register" And that's why she's found the guy and why she's telling me to vote again. Hochberg: Why do you think that's so important to her? Amber: Because my Dad was deported Hochberg: Your Dad was deported? Amber: Yes sir, they're fighting for him to come back legally. Since she can't vote, she wants a President who work for immigrants Hochberg: Ramos isn't sure yet who she'll vote for, but Hispanic leaders hope politicians will start paying more attention to voters like her She's part of a fast growing demographic in North Carolina's latino community of young adults born from immigrant parents. It's a group the latin american coalition is making a special effort to register Organizer Rubin Campeo has been to high schools and other places where young people hang out and his table at Plaza Fiesta was a few yards away from a table where a latin rock band was playing. Campeo: For us as a community I think it is important to reach out to young people because they are the only ones in their family who are now eligible to vote. Some of their parents are encouraging them , to be a voice for them. Hochberg: Indeed while the Pugh Hispanic Center has found that while 400,000 adult Latinos live in NC about 70% are ineligible to vote because they are not U.S. Citizens That's the highest percentage of nonvoting hispanics of any state in the country. Tony Asion, executive director of the Latino advocacy group El Pueblo, worries Latinos are being marginalized Asion: One of the things that we're seeing today in North Carolina is a lot of politicians running on an anti-Latino campaign knowing that these folks can't vote anyway, so you can bash them to your heart's content Campaign Ad Voice: "politicians talk and talk about illegial immigration, but Senator Dole actually did something abou it" Hochberg: Most NC political leaders would dispute the notion that they're bashing latinos but several have made immigration a central campaign theme. Republican Elizabeth Dole kicked off a reelection bid with this TV ad spotlighting a federal program designed to deport illegal immigrants who commit crimes and Dale Folwell was among several Republican state legislators up for re-election who spoke at a small rally last month declaring illlegal immigration a major crisis Rep. Dale Folwell: I can tell you that there's two things that civilizations never survive and that's the devaluation of their currency or the devaluation of their language and these are two things that Americans are facing. *applause* Hochberg: These politicians say their immigration positions are not anti-latino. Dole's campaign notes that her ad about deporting criminals doesn't mention any ethnic group while Representative Folwell said at the rally, in his words, not everyone who is brown is here illegally. But some people at the rally were uneasy about the latino voter drives especially when it comes to registering U.S. born children of undocumented parents Marion Larabee is a member of the Minutemen, a group that wants Congress to change the Constitution or have the courts clarify it, so those children would no longer be considered American citizens. Larabee: They should be citizens of where their parents are [from]. And if their parents are illegal, they're illegal. They're illegal right along with their parents. If they're illegal, they have no right to vote. They're taking advantage of our laws, this is not right. Hochberg: Latino groups in North Carolina say they hope to register a couple thousand new voters this summer That's likely to have only a small effect on this year's election. But NC's Latino birthrate continues to rise, and they now account for more than half the enrollment growth in the state's schools. Fortelling a day when tens of thousands of young latinos will be able to vote each year. Adam Hochberg, NPR News Chapel Hill, NC

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Duration: 4 minutes and 49 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
License: Public Domain
Genre: None
Views: 172
Posted by: dalefolwell on Jul 9, 2008

Representative Dale Folwell on NPR's All Things Considered Address North Carolina's Immigration Issue.

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