José Manuel Santoyo, a spokesperson for Young Latinos for Bernie. Although it has been often reported in this election cycle that minorities are overwhelmingly voting for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, many members of the African-American and Latino communities have banded together to support Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
Sanders has been especially popular with young voters, inspiring many to participate in the democratic process for the first time.
TE: When was Young Latinos for Bernie formed, and what were the motivations behind the group?
José Manuel Santoyo: Young Latinos for Bernie was officially formed right before the Nevada caucus as an independent grassroots effort to help Bernie Sanders get elected. The Young Latinos for Bernie Facebook page was created to reach out to young Latinos all over the U.S. who are Bernie Sanders supporters and create a public platform that will allow our voices to be represented in this Presidential campaign. It was necessary, and it allowed us to spread the message of transforming this nation through viral posts and ways in which we hope to increase young Latino voter turnout.
TE: What is it about Sanders’ campaign that speaks to you?
José Manuel Santoyo: My family are all immigrants. Some of us are still undocumented and believe that the only way to make change happen is to be a part of it. As a Human Rights student at Southern Methodist University [in Dallas, Texas], I personally believe that Bernie Sanders’ message is the most human rights/ immigrants rights focused that any other candidate in history. He believes in stopping unjust deportations that keep destroying communities all over the United States. As [the son of immigrants] himself, he understands the immigrant experience. Undocumented students (Dreamers) cannot vote but that does not mean that we cannot take action. In fact, we have decided to stand up and be a part of the political revolution that seeks to bring major positive changes to this country.
TE: Why do you feel Sanders’ message and platform are the best for the Latino population of the U.S.?
José Manuel Santoyo: His immigration record, economy record, and humanitarian record speaks for itself. He wants to be beholden to the community and not special interests. By not taking money from corporations, and with a massive social movement, we will be able to create an economy that works for every single person living in this country — in which there is social mobility and people have an opportunity to live a life with dignity.
TE: What role has your organization played in campaigning for Sanders across the U.S.?
José Manuel Santoyo: Through Young Latinos for Bernie our goal has been to constantly continue reaching out to other young Latino Bernie supporters and help to educate other people on the issues. On the ground, many young Latinos and allies from all over the country went to Nevada to help increase voter turnout and win the Latinos Vote. I had an opportunity to see the grassroots efforts on the ground and work with other volunteers.
TE: As a young Latino living in the largely conservative state of Texas, do you feel threatened by the messages and actions coming out of Trump’s campaign?
José Manuel Santoyo: I feel more threatened by the policies of the Democratic party that allow over 2,000,000 families to be separated. I feel that the power of lobbyist for the private prison industry and the defense industry that keep locking up immigrants and militarizing the border, are an issue that needs to be addressed. Republicans in Texas constantly politicize the issue of immigration locally and nationally. What I think is more important is that we spend too much time talking about how bad Trump’s proposals are when we currently have corporate Democrats taking money from the private prison industry and the military industrial couple (that Eisenhower warned us about), deporting people every single day. If a Republican were to be doing that I’m sure Democrats wouldn’t be as quiet about it.
TE: In what ways do you feel Sanders’ campaign counteracts Trump’s?
José Manuel Santoyo: Sanders’ Campaign is focused on bringing people together to build a mass movement that will continue to work after the election is over in order to bring about the policies we are advocating for, while Trump’s campaign is catering to the fears of Americans without providing adequate solutions. One is advocating for love, the other one for hate — hate for the immigrant, the Muslim, women, and any other group that does not look like you. It is a campaign that fails to address the issues facing this country today. And most important if you look at Trump’s trajectory, he has constantly flip-flopped on issues over the years. Bernie Sanders is the only presidential candidate who has been consistent with his message since the beginning of his career. He is honest, he stays true to his convictions, and is now inspiring many people to rise up and take part in this historical movement.