In the suburbs of Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, the Trump administration has detained more immigrants than in any other county not on the US-Mexico border. While President Donald Trump’s raids, family segregations, and the deployment of U.S. troops on the southern border largely disappeared from the headlines in the final leg of the 2020 election campaign, Latino voters, long grappling with Georgia’s own tough legislation against undocumented immigrants, have I have not forgotten the rhetoric and actions of the White House.

In the suburbs of Gwinnett County, northeast of Atlanta, the Trump administration has detained more immigrants than in any other county not on the US-Mexico border. While President Donald Trump’s raids, family segregations, and the deployment of U.S. troops on the southern border largely disappeared from the headlines in the final leg of the 2020 election campaign, Latino voters, long grappling with Georgia’s own tough legislation against undocumented immigrants, have I have not forgotten the rhetoric and actions of the White House.


“This choice [is] very personal, ”said Carlos Garcia, director of the Pro-Immigrant Alliance of Cobb County, which is northwest of Atlanta. Garcia immigrated to Georgia from Mexico City in 1999 and became a US citizen that year. “I saw [the] I have to do something and as soon as I could, of course, I signed up for the election. “

Gwinnett and Cobb are among a handful of suburban boroughs that are driving Georgia’s transformation from a republican stronghold to a battlefield state: polls demonstrate a dead heat between Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in the November 3rd presidential election, and the Democrats win the state’s two U.S. Senate races. And as part of that shift, the Latino community has become a powerful electoral power. Gwinnett County’s residents are predominantly white until the 1990s Majority-minority, and more than a quarter were born abroad.

Latinos from the Atlanta area are a potentially groundbreaking bloc in a state that Trump won with just over 200,000 votes in 2016. The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials (GALEO) estimates that there are now more than 250,000 Latino voters. And they are correct. In the 2018 mid-term elections 56 percent of Latino eligible voters in Georgia, a higher rate than any other group in the state – and outperformed Latino votes in both Arizona and Florida.

As early as 2016, the counties with the largest Latino population, Gwinnett and Cobb, ran for the Democrats for the first time in decades. “I think we can see the Latino community there [in Georgia] can clearly make a significant difference in that choice, ”said Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director of GALEO.

But if Latino voters turn out to be in record numbers again, it will go against the ethos of the Trump administration rather than Biden’s immigration platform, which is largely focused on reversing current politics.

“To be honest, it’s not so much about Joe Biden as about the person, but about what is different from Trump,” MP Brenda Lopez Romero told me. “The environment that this government allowed -[for others] feeling that it is okay to threaten individuals based on their perceived immigration status – has really affected the quality of life for us here in the state. “

Latinos in Georgia are mostly first or second generation immigrants, the result of a surge in immigration from Mexico and Central America that began in the 1990s. That makes them very sensitive to the very programs that the Trump administration is trying to dismantle, such as Ttemporary protection status for families from El Salvador and Nicaragua and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

“All of these issues affect us very much because we are a very young immigrant community,” said Lopez Romero, a Cuernavaca, Mexico native who grew up along the Buford Highway corridor in Atlanta before becoming a US citizen and winning the 2008 election eight years later the Georgia General Assembly.

Despite the dramatic changes in the Georgian electorate, Latino supporters still fear a possible Biden government will not focus on its problems. “I haven’t really seen Joe Biden put something on the agenda that would be attractive to new citizens,” Garcia said, reiterating concerns that “it’s not really a clear message when it comes to immigrants and the people Children in Cages goes ”. (Lawyers could tell the parents of 545 children separated from the Trump administration, according to a filing on Tuesday.)

Latinos in Georgia could vote en masse because stepping up US immigration and customs operations is on the ballot even in local races. In both Gwinnett and Cobb counties, two candidates who want to replace longtime sheriffs have pledged to end working with ICE to identify undocumented residents through local arrests and drive them into immigration custody.

And some of the harrowing allegations against ICE since Trump took office hit Latinos particularly hard in Georgia. Last month, a Legal complaint Filed on behalf of a whistleblower nurse at an ICE detention center in Irwin County, Georgia, reported “harrowing medical neglect” and an unusual number of hysterectomies among Spanish-speaking inmates – some allegedly without their full consent. ICE’s regional office in Atlanta recorded: 5 percent increase of deportations in fiscal year 2019, mainly due to the increase in people arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border and transported to Georgian detention centers.

As elsewhere, the health and economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Latinos has declined disproportionately in Georgia. Many are key workers in the service industry or in the state’s poultry factories, and concerns about Trump’s handling of the pandemic can also push voters to the polls. Some are already there: Georgia’s personal early voting began October 12, and Gwinnett County more ballot papers added in the first week than in the entire three-week period 2016.

Georgia’s history of voter suppression still weighs heavily on the minds of Latino voters. Only Gwinnett County has Spanish language voting papers. But in-person voting can be a way to bypass the potentially confusing, multi-step instructions for the ballot papers that might otherwise put off Latino voters.

Garcia, himself a first-time voter, is not taking any chances: “I plan to be there in person – me, me and me – to make sure my vote is counted,” he said.