Saturday, May 18, 2024

What Is The Next Move For Latino Sanders Supporters

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Democratic Presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), speaks at a fundraiser and reception at Town Hall September 18, 2015 in New York City. Sanders has been gaining ground  on Hillary Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Latinos who were avid supporters and determined workers for Bernie Sanders accepted his endorsement of Hillary Clinton with some disappointment Tuesday, but said the community made gains from his campaign. Arturo Carmona, who oversaw the Sanders campaign’s work with minority communities, called the endorsement a bittersweet moment.

Though Carmona and other Sanders supporters are saddened their candidate won’t be the party nominee, “we understand we are living in difficult times and we have on one end a character by the name of Donald Trump that we need to defeat.” Chuck Rocha, founder and president of Solidarity Strategies LLC, said Sanders “gave a small Mexican American-owned firm an opportunity we’ll never forget.” Sanders hired his organization to handle mailings, literature and phone banking for the campaign.

Rocha told NBC News Latino it was time now to pivot to doing everything to defeat Trump and to engage as many Latinos as possible. On the other hand, Cesar Vargas, Sanders’ national Latino outreach strategist, was not ready to declare he is backing Clinton. Vargas said he wants to see her implement some of her promises by encouraging the administration to end deportations and the use of private prisons for immigrant detention and to press the president to allow Dreamers – immigrants who arrived or stayed in the country illegally as young children – to serve in the military and push for work to start on a public option for health care.

“She doesn’t have to be in the White House to do that,” Vargas said. “She can do much more and we can do much more. Our biggest enemy is not Donald Trump. Our biggest enemy is a party that has no fire to be bold.” Vargas said Sanders has helped make the platform call for change that would benefit Latinos, such as the end of deportations of veterans. “What I’m telling people is to run for office,” Vargas said. “As well-intentioned as the advisers of the campaigns were, they did not have (many Latinos) at the high levels.”

Marlu Abarca, who attended her first Iowa caucus this year and helped train other Latinos to participate in them, said she is disappointed that she is now left with a candidate that she said doesn’t share her beliefs or feel the urgency that she does. Even so, like many Sanders supporters, she said she is “checking my privilege” and backing Clinton to prevent a Trump presidency.

NBC News