They’ve been arriving since January in numbers that have exhausted staff at the Hispanic Center of Greater Danbury.
Ecuadorians, Dominicans, Mexicans, Guatemalans and Colombians previously content with permanent legal status suddenly want to become citizens and claim their right to vote.
A record 27 million Hispanics are expected to be eligible to vote this year, in part because of immigrants going through the naturalization process as they are in Danbury. The other major trend driver is Latino millennials such as Stephani Figueroa, who is old enough to vote this year in her first presidential election.
“I heard about some of the things that Trump said and I definitely don’t like it because we are all working here and we are all part of the community,” said Figueroa, 20, the Danbury-born daughter of a Guatemalan immigrant. “What he said about immigrants and other nationalities has made him one of the top candidates, just because he is being a racist.”
Trump’s spokeswoman did not respond to a request on Friday to share his strategy to win the state’s 280,000 Latino voters in the April 26 Connecticut primary.
Trump has suggested there is no issue after angering Latinos by calling Mexicans criminals and promising to deport 11 million undocumented immigrants. At a Feb. 26 debate, Trump noted he won the Nevada primary with Hispanic backing, saying “I’m doing very well with Hispanics.”
Two Latina candidates who are courting support for state office – Newtown Democrat Eva Bermudez Zimmerman and Danbury Republican Emanuela Palmares – are not so sure.
“For every vote he might gain with that negative campaigning, he is going to lose a vote from someone who knows a family who needs immigration reform,” said Zimmerman, who is running against the GOP’s Rep. Mitch Bolinsky to represent the 106th District.
Palmares, the first Brazilian to run for state office, said Trump’s statements clash with the principles of social justice she believes in. Palmares is running to represent the 110th District held by Democrat Bob Godfrey.
“I think that whenever you see two extremes being so loud and pulling people apart, it is really the birth of a very diverse middle ground,” said Palmares. “It’s my hope that from this whole national conversation we are having that a lot of new leaders are going to be born that are going to strive to……..”
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