Capitol Media Services
By Howard Fischer
Tucson, Arizona | Published: http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/193472
PHOENIX — Arizona Hispanics need to concentrate more on registering citizens to vote rather than organizing economic boycotts, Gov. Janet Napolitano said.
Napolitano addressed the issue in response to plans by an Hispanic activist to urge people stay home from work during the first full week of September and again during the week leading up to the 2008 Super Bowl.
Elias Bermudez, president of Inmigrantes Sin Fronteras — Immigrants Without Borders — said that is in direct response to Arizona's adoption of the toughest law in the nation to punish companies that knowingly hire undocumented workers.
"I think the No. 1 thing is for Hispanics who are citizens in Arizona is to register and to vote," Napolitano said. She said that is "where the real power is, at the ballot box."
A new national report found the number of Hispanics in the United States is increasing exponentially faster than the number who are registered to vote.
The study by Pew Hispanic Center also showed that just 32 percent of Hispanics eligible to vote went to the polls, compared to 41 percent of blacks and 52 percent of Anglos.
The Pew study said the growth of the Latino vote lags "well behind the growth of the Latino population."
The study said much of that is due to the fact many new Hispanic residents are ineligible to go to the polls.
Of more than 44 million Hispanics, the Pew Center estimated about 11.6 million are not U.S. citizens, and another 15 million are too young to vote. That leaves about 17.3 million Hispanics who are eligible to vote.
Bermudez said the call for the boycott is not the sole focus of his organization. He said his office processed more than 4,000 citizenship applications just this month.
"We're going to get citizens and we're going to get them to vote," he said.
Bermudez said, though, the message behind the employer sanctions law and other measures approved by voters is that Arizona does not need the help of those who are here illegally.
"We want to show them there is a need for us," he said.