Hispanics in Nebraska Focus not on Immigration but on Economy

According to the June USA Today/Gallup Poll as well as other sources, Hispanic voters may be more concerned about the economy than they are about immigration issues. This may be significant, since candidates in this year`s election are focusing on immigration issues to attract these voters, even though the community as a whole seems to have different concerns.

According to the Gallup Poll, registered Hispanic voters ranked economic concerns and health care above immigration issues. Only 12% of these voters named immigration as their most important issue, while 20% felt that unemployment and health care were the most important concerns in the upcoming election.

According to an open discussion organized by NET News with the Hispanic voter community, the Hispanic voter community is far less monolithic than many experts and politicians believe. Just as African American voters or Anglo voters have a wide range of concerns, depending on their individual lives, economic situation, and other factors, the same is true of Hispanic voters. However, some politicians treat all Hispanic voters as one unit – with one set of concerns.

Many at the discussion stated that one of the big concerns in the Hispanic community is to get qualified voters to vote and to educate potential voters about the issues. Some of the participants in the discussion felt that the Hispanic community needs to play a larger role in local government and in civic activities to be heard. Working-class members of the Hispanic community and any community, said participants, may have trouble finding the time to get involved and to read up about the issues. Long work hours can also hamper civic participation.

The concern with community participation is supported by statistics. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, qualified Hispanics in Nebraska are half as likely to vote and to register to vote as the rest of the population in the state. The same source reveals that across the US, voter registration in the Hispanic population and the African-American population has declined since 2008, even though the Hispanic population has increased.

According to members of the NET News discussion, more community outreach and engagement is needed to give Hispanic voters the resources and motivation to vote and to take part. Participants in the discussion had many suggestions for getting Hispanic voters to take part, including English language classes and more resources to help voters understand the candidates and their views.

Members of the discussion also discussed the issues which affect Hispanic voters. Most participants pointed out that the same issues that affect all voters affect Hispanic voters, too. Minority access to health care, for example, may be just as big – if not a bigger – concern for Hispanic voters than immigration issues. For many Hispanic families, access to good education and concerns about job creation are also a concern. Essentially, like any voter who lives in the US, Hispanic voters are concerned with the issues that affect their everyday lives.