Election Day has come and gone. No matter who's the majority in Congress, one thing is clear: Latino voters who went to the polls were motivated by immigration reform.
We saw the early signs of this through Election Day polling we conducted with Latino Decisions. Those polls showed that 45 percent of Latinos nationwide cited immigration as one of the most important issues in 2014.
The simple truth is that for many Latino voters, immigration is not just a political issue; it's a personal one that often affects our very own family members. In fact, polling from Latino Decisions shows that 58 percent of registered Latino voters say they know someone who is undocumented. For so many of us, there was just too much at stake not to vote.
This was certainly true for Guadalupe Portillo, a 102-year-old Lincoln Heights, California, woman who became a citizen last year and voted for the first time on Tuesday. Portillo cast her vote with the aim of setting an example to Latinos who may have lost hope amid a gridlocked Washington that has been unable to pass immigration reform legislation.
From NBC Bay Area:
"It's never too late," she [Portillo] said. "Here I am at my age still fighting, and you won't even vote? That's why I'm voting. I may be old, but I'm one more voice."
Consider Gloria Argentina Sarmiento Mendoza's story. In the Lincoln Journal Star this week, Mendoza told her story of citizenship and why it was important for her to get it in time for Election Day.
From the Lincoln Journal Star:
After Gloria Argentina Sarmiento Mendoza passed her citizenship test--answering all the questions correctly--she had a question of her own.
Could she change her legal name? Make it shorter for her Social Security card?
The woman from Honduras wanted to get rid of her middle name, replace Argentina with an "A."
Not a problem, the examiner told her. It would take two months to approve the change, then she could come back to take the oath and make her U.S. citizenship official.
Forget it, Gloria told her.
"I said, 'Keep it. I want to vote in the election. I want to vote.'"
And after 12 years in America, she didn't want to wait one more day.
Mendoza travels around Nebraska educating Latinos on their rights and helping them find assistance. She understands the need for immigration reform and she hears heartbreaking stories every day from families grappling with separation and deportation.
Forward GraphicNow that the election is over, the candidates who lost are licking their wounds and the victors are preparing to take office. As they prepare, they should also remember that there is another election in two years and Latinos have made it clear that they want immigration reform. Not delivering on this could prove disastrous in the next cycle.
We also need the president to keep his word and take executive action to provide relief to the millions of immigrants facing the threat of deportation. The president should heed the words of Portillo and Mendoza, as well as the many voices we've shared over the past few months. The election is over; the time is up. It's time to act, Mr. President. Millions of lives are hanging in the balance.
Join us in telling President Obama to take strong executive action today! Sign our petition and tell him to act!
This was first posted to the NCLR Blog.