Latinas Get In On the Election Action, Canvassing for Obama in Florida

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You can find them at the one of a kind Casa Obama. An Obama campaign office in West Tampa, FL set up specifically to target Latino and minority voters in the crucial swing state. It's also become a meeting place for like minded Latinas, young and old, born abroad or here in the USA, who say they are sick of the direction our country is headed and want to see some serious change.

Among these women is nineteen year old Kayla Rodriguez. Speaking to the Huffington Post, Kayla admits she was not really paying much attention to the election until things in her own personal life took a turn for the worse and she saw first hand how political policies affect her life. She has a special needs 13 year old brother who is not receiving the care he needs and deserves. Her mother found it impossible to find adequate health care after the family was abandoned by their step father and now, their food stamps have been cut off as well. "First they cut the food stamps for my mom, and now they send us a check for $29," she said. "How are people supposed to eat?" asks Kayla. She also began to notice how many of her friends could not afford to go to college. The clincher came when their home was foreclosed. "My mom went into a great depression. Then my friends went into depression, then my brother. If everyone is depressed, how do I survive?" Kayla points out.

What fuels these women to fight for Obama is knowing that the Hispanic population in Florida has changed over the last few years. This shifting demographic should help to offset the large Cuban community in the state, which traditionally votes Republican. The ladies at Casa Obama see a real chance for victory in a state once considered a lock for the Republicans. Now, Obama is holding a comfortable but still small lead in polls in Florida.

"There has not been this much interest in an election among young Hispanic voters before and that alone is historic," says Gladys Bernett, a Panamanian volunteer from Tampa.

For Kayla, her political involvement always comes back to the personal. And she really knows her stuff. "My main thing is health care, immigration, and that I hope one day my friends could get an education, too," Kayla said. Her friends have not been able to go to college because although they grew up most of their lives in the United States, they are still not citizens.

Kayla says one of the reasons she supports Obama is because he supports the DREAM Act, (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act), proposed federal legislation that could help certain high achieving illegal immigrant students to get U.S. residency. McCain had actually assisted in co-sponsoring this bill, but when it came time for a vote in congress he caved to party pressure and voted against it.

"It will help my friends to have hope, to get a career, to become someone... and to be accepted as the Americans they are," she said.

 

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About this author1

Mariela Rosario,

I'm a raging opinionista and I love to share my ramblings on everything from pop culture to food to stuff that makes me laugh & cry! I've worked in all types of media (TV, film, print) and was previously the online editor at Latina magazine before joining Mamás Latinas. On most nights you can find me working my way through my library of cookbooks or playing with my puppy Lola (my only child so far). I have a wonderful hubby who shares my passion for any and all kinds of travel. Together, we've formed a semi-professional wine drinking team.

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