Things That Matter

From New York To San Diego, These Candidates Are Standing Up For Their Latino Communities

Seats in all level of government are up for grabs for the midterm elections and there are some new faces joining the world of politics. Candidates are out there running for state legislatures, seats in Congress and some governorships. However, before new candidates can compete to take these seats, they must first make it through the primary elections.

A primary election happens before the general to narrow down the field of candidates to two candidates, usually, who battle it out for the prize. Primary season began in March and will end in mid-September, depending on the state you live in.

As campaigning continues, we are beginning to see the candidates of color who are seeking change with progressive platforms. Let’s get to know the leaders of the next generation who represent the underrepresented.

Roza Calderon

Running for Congress to represent California’s 4th district, Roza Calderon, 32, wants to represent people’s needs over party interests. Hailing from Lincoln, California, Calderon is the daughter of a Salvadoran refugee and understands the importance of the American Dream. An activist for blue-collar families and geoscientist, Calderon’s platform includes combating climate change, promoting Medicare for All, and building an inclusive economy.

Part of her motivation stems from the lack of inclusive policies pushed by her opponents. In an interview with the Press Tribune, Calderon states, “I want to make sure that people have jobs. I want to make sure that people have the ability to negotiate fair wages and that’s really what I’m fighting for.” Calderon would become the first Latina representing California’s 4th district if elected.

Nelson Araujo

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Currently representing Nevada’s State Assembly District 3, Nelson Araujo, 31, is campaigning to be the next Nevada Secretary of State. His parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador to escape the Civil War in the 1980s. Araujo is motivated to run for Secretary of State because he believes Nevadans deserve a voting system that is just and protects the rights of every eligible voter. Araujo also states, “I believe an open government depends on fair elections and that will be my guiding principle in office.”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 28, is running to represent New York’s 14th congressional district. Born to a Puerto Rican family in the Bronx, Ocasio-Cortez continues to work with families of the Bronx and Queens as an educator, organizer and service worker. This has allowed her to learn more about the experience of everyday people, which inspired her to run for Congress.

One of Ocasio-Cortez’s main platform issues is banning super PACS to end the financial corruption at the expense of her community. Additional platform issues include paid sick and family leave, federal aid for Puerto Rico, and infrastructure renewal. Ocasio-Cortez would become the first Latina representing New York’s 14th district, if elected.

Ammar Campa-Najjar

Hailing from East County, San Diego, Ammar Campa-Najjar, 29, is running for Congress to represent California’s 50th district. He lived in San Diego before his family moved to Gaza as a child. However, Campa-Najjar, his brother and mother relocated back to San Diego after the war broke out. His working-class upbringing motivated him to run and give back to working families. Additional congressional interests include election reform, gun safety, and universal healthcare. Born to a Mexican-American mother and Palestinian father, Campa-Najjar could be the first Latino-Arab American to be elected to Congress.

Juana Matias

Born in the Dominican Republic and currently residing in the U.S., Juana Matias, 30, is running for Congress to represent Massachusetts’ 3rd district. Matias states on her website that her family pushed her to go to college before she eventually pursued law school. She worked her way to becoming Massachusetts’s first Latina State Representative. Matias understands what communities face firsthand, especially at a time when the American Dream is under attack. Matias’s platform includes the fight for a better education, the protection of immigrant rights, and the creation of quality jobs. In a video posted on her Facebook account, Matias states, “To me, politics is personal because we’re talking about people’s lives.” She would become the first Latina and immigrant representing Massachusetts’ 3rd district if elected.

Sam Jammal

Sam Jammal, 36, is running for Congress to represent the 39th district of California. Raised by immigrant parents from South America and the Middle East, Jammal saw his parents sacrifice many things in order for him and his siblings to have a better life. Jammal has a message on his website that states, “We need leaders who can stand up and fight to make sure our government gets back to the basics and represents our best interest.” His platform issues include fighting for LGBTQ and women’s rights and honoring veterans. He could become the first Latino-Arab American in Congress or share the title with Ammar Campa-Najjar.

Amanda Renteria

California is searching for a new governor and Amanda Renteria, 43, intends to hold that elected position. She was born in the U.S. to a Mexican father and American-born mother, both former farmworkers. Renteria received her degrees from Stanford and Harvard. She was the first Latina Chief of Staff of the U.S. Senate and now she is ready to take on her opponents in the race for governor of California. Renteria’s gubernatorial platform includes access to clean air and water, freedom from harassment and discrimination, and preparing children for the 21st century economy. Her goal is to make politics about people again. Renteria would become the first woman and Latina as California governor.

What you need to know. And what you can do.

You can make a difference. The most crucial act you can take during the primary elections is to vote. Not only can it create diversity in politics, but it can also lead to more equitable policies for underrepresented communities. Learn more about all candidates running in your state and remember to vote during the primary elections!

  • California – June 5, 2018
  • Nevada – June 12, 2018
  • New York –  June 26, 2018
  • Massachusetts – September 4, 2018

READ: We Spoke With Ammar Campa-Najjar, The First Latino-Arab Running For Congress

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What I Wish My Family Knew About How Their Vote For Trump Impacts My Life

Culture

What I Wish My Family Knew About How Their Vote For Trump Impacts My Life

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Politics is a tricky topic for families and friends, especially when you are on opposite sides of the aisle. It’s hard not to take things personally when it comes to how those closest to you vote. Those feelings have been heightened since 2016 when President Donald Trump won on a campaign based on fear and hate. His rhetoric has never changed and his words and policies are having a real impact on the lives of millions, including me and my husband.

My family is a Cuban family living in Florida. They fit the description in more ways than one. They are a close-knit unit always visiting each other and having mini family reunions for every occasion. Covid changed that for a while but over time they have safely created a bubble with themselves. I am one of three in my immediately-extended family to leave Florida so they don’t see my life on a daily basis. I can only imagine that living in Florida would change that.

With the 2020 elections in just days, I have had some hard conversations with my family about things they’ve never understood or asked about. As a gay Latino man living in the U.S., my life hasn’t always been easy and safe. I grew up in a rural town in the Florida panhandle where it was not okay to be visibly and audibly Latino nor gay.

I was 16 when I had my first run-in with violent homophobia. I was at a keg party and I was pouring a beverage. A college student came up to me and asked if I was gay. Knowing the importance of self-preservation, I immediately said no. Without missing a beat, the man sucker-punched me in the face, called me a faggot, and ran to a waiting car that sped off.

My parents never heard that story. I lied to them when they noticed the welt on my face and told them I got elbowed at cheerleading practice. I know. I was a cheerleader and my parents couldn’t see I was gay. It was safer for me to lie and not let my parents know I was targeted for being gay, something they were in no place to accept are Cuban immigrants living in a rural, conservative southern town.

That moment instilled in me a fear that I live with to this day. No matter where I am or what I am doing, I always function at the level that I can be attacked at any time for being gay. President Trump’s rhetoric and administration has made that worse.

During President Barack Obama’s administration, I felt safe for the first time in a long time. I know that comes with some privilege, but it was the first time in in my gay life that I felt safe to be who I was. I came out to my parents. I became involved in politics to get people elected. I traveled as an openly gay man. I was no longer living in the shadows.

The 2016 elections shattered the feeling of safety and peace for me and my friends. Suddenly, all of us were on the chopping block as our rights and dignity were under attack again. The Pulse Nightclub shooting in June 2016 reminded me of how much hate there still was for people like me and the Trump campaign was fanning those flames. I was scared. My family didn’t understand why.

Most of my family voted for President Trump that year. It was a knife through the heart to know that most of my family was not concerned about my own safety and dignity. For them, President Trump’s election was more important than the very real threat he posed to millions of people.

I remember confiding in my family my fear that President Trump would try to eliminate marriage equality, won just one year before. I was made to feel like I was being dramatic. My husband and I got married the Friday after Thanksgiving because we just did not trust what the administration would do.

Four years later, Supreme Court justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito signaled that they want to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that made my marriage legal. How? With the help of Amy Coney Barrett, who was rushed in with just days left till election day. Marriage equality became law of the land in a 5-4 ruling.

This blow to the LGBTQ+ community comes after the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that LGBTQ+ people cannot be fired for being LGBTQ+. The ruling in June stated that LGBTQ+ were included in the Civil Rights Act under protection from discrimination based on sex.

The lawsuit brought to the Supreme Court to make discrimination against me legal was drafted by the Trump administration. The man my family voted for wanted to make me less than everyone else.

One of the first cases before the majority conservative court that could erode LGBTQ+ rights is Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. The case, which will be heard the day after the election, will decide if private agencies that receive government dollars can refuse people based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and even religion. How is this happening in the U.S. in 2020?

I am also a recently diagnosed diabetic. The Trump administration has been a hostile enemy of the Affordable Care Act since day one. The ACA, also known as Obamacare, has become increasingly popular with Americans, especially now during the pandemic.

Another case being heard on behalf of the Trump administration is a case to dismantle the ACA once and for all. This would throw millions of people off of their healthcare and would leave millions more with pre-existing conditions without healthcare.

A vote for Trump is a vote to strip people of necessary and life-saving healthcare. We have all read the horror stories of people dying of diabetes because they couldn’t afford their insulin. The Trump administration wants us to go back to those days. The court case could force numerous people to die from treatable and manageable diseases for the sake of profit over lives.

Republicans have no plan to replace the ACA. However, they have continued to lie to the American people and claim that they do.

There are several communities under attack right now. Black lives are at stake. Abortion rights are at stake. Healthcare is at stake. Immigrant rights are at stake. Trans lives are at stake. LGBTQ+ rights are at stake. Our standing in the world is at stake. The soul of our nation is at stake.

Under this current administration, I have seen my friends live in fear that they will lose rights. I have watched friends grapple with the understanding that they have lost rights.

My family claims to care for me, and I am sure that on some level they really believe that. However, as a gay Latino man living in the Trump administration, I have grown resentful. I resent that their votes are costing me and my friends their human dignity. I resent that their vote exacerbated the ongoing pandemic that has cost more lives than it should have. I resent that they ask why I don’t visit despite voting to limit my rights and freedom.

To my family members who have voted against this administration, thank you. Thank you for standing by my side. Thank you for understanding what is at stake for me and my marriage. Thank you for rebuking an administration that has caused unnecessary harm to millions of innocent people.

It is not too late to have your voice heard. Go vote. Millions of us are relying on you using your voice to determine the future of this nation.

READ: Remembering The Victims Of The Orlando Shooting, Many Of Whom Were Latino

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Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

Things That Matter

Marco Rubio Writes Letter Asking For TPS For Venezuelans After Republicans Voted Against It

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The Trump administration is letting Temporary Protected Status expire for hundreds of thousands of people. A lot of these people have been here for years and have started families and businesses. Republicans voted against TPS for Venezuelans so Sen. Marco Rubio is now asking Trump to do something about it.

Sen. Marco Rubio wrote a letter to President Trump asking for TPS for Venezuelans.

It is a break from the usual tactic of ignoring TPS needs in Florida by Haitians, Hondurans, and Salvadorans. These people are at risk of losing their TPS after the Trump administration decided to let those protections expire. Venezuelans started fleeing the South American country when the economy started to collapse. Many of them have settled in South Florida.

People immediately started to call Sen. Rubio out for his glaring inaction for years.

Venezuelan nationals have been coming to the U.S. for years to escape the terrifying situation in Venezuela. An economic downfall led to millions of Venezuelans going without food, school, medicine, and other necessities. The crisis was an international fascination as Venezuelans took to the streets and were killed for protesting against their government.

Senate Republicans refused to vote on a bill last year to provide TPS to Venezuelans.

In August 2019, Senate Republicans had the chance to vote on a bill that would have protected Venezuelans living in the U.S. A bill in the Democrat-led House passed but the Senate bill stalled because of Senate Republicans. The failure by the Senate to pass the bill has left Venezuelans vulnerable to deportation back to the country they fled.

“Not this week, I don’t anticipate movement on it,” Rubio told the Miami Herald back then. “I anticipate hopefully getting the administration to do something. That’s what we’ve been working on behind the scenes here, we’ve made a little progress on it. We have 17 votes already scheduled this week, a bunch of nominees, the spending bill, the veto override. The votes this week have already been scheduled.”

During this time, the Trump administration has quietly been deporting Venezuelans back.

Venezuelans nationals have been deported back to President Nicolás Maduro’s brutal regime. With no economic prospects, the deportations are sending people to their deaths as one in three Venezuelans aren’t getting enough food. This is just one of the many issues compounded on the Venezuelan people after years of economic and political turmoil.

Venezuelans are also pointing out how Sen. Rubio waited until after Amy Coney Barrett to fight for TPS.

Senate Republicans recently confirmed Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. The confirmation was rushed to secure a conservative majority on the court and went against the wish of the American people. A majority of Americans preferred that the Senate wait until after the election.

There are four days left until the elections and every vote matters. Make sure you get out there and make your voice heard.

READ: The RNC Wants You To Think Biden-Harris Policies Are Socialist, These Cuban And Venezuelan-Americans Think Otherwise

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