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    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    How Florida's 1 million Puerto Ricans could influence the presidential race

    How Florida's 1 million Puerto Ricans could influence the presidential race

    Daniel González, The Republic | azcentral.com10:32 p.m. MST February 27, 2016


    The Puerto Ricans flocking to Florida from both directions bring with them cultural and political changes already seen and felt at the local level in Central Florida cities such as Kissimmee. Nick Oza/azcentral | The Republic


    (Photo: Nick Oza/The Republic)


    KISSIMMEE, Florida — On a recent Friday night, as diners welcomed the weekend, two taverns on the same street in this Central Florida city highlighted the changing demographics taking hold here.

    At the first, the 3 Sisters Speakeasy, a solo guitarist with long blond hair strummed John Mellencamp’s 1982 hit, “Jack and Diane,” while a mostly White clientele listened halfheartedly over beers and burgers.


    “Oh yeah, life goes on,” twanged the singer, Clint Stewart, “Long after the thrill, of livin’ is gone.”

    Over at the newly opened Hatfield’s Bar and Grill, a 2-minute walk away, the contrast couldn’t have been sharper. With the lights dimmed nightclub style, a DJ in a black cap spun Afro-influenced salsa, merengue and bachata over a heart-pounding sound system.

    At one point, the DJ, Edgar “Chino” Ramos, leaned into a microphone and yelled proudly to the mostly Latino customers, “the Puerto Ricans are taking over!”


    To some, especially those still clinging to the 1980s, it must feel that way.


    Puerto Ricans are pouring into Florida by the thousands each month.


    ONE NATION: IMMIGRATION 2016

    Some are cold-weather refugees heading south from northeastern states and Chicago, where Ramos, the DJ, is from.

    Many more are fleeing Puerto Rico to escape the island’s economic turmoil and massive debt crisis.


    Since 2000, the Puerto Rican population in Florida has doubled to more than 1 million, according to the Pew Research Center. At that rate, Florida will soon surpass New York as the state with the largest Puerto Rican population in the U.S.


    Adding to the state’s already fast-growing and increasingly diverse Latino population, Puerto Ricans are now the second largest Latino group in Florida behind Cubans, according to census data.


    They are also quickly becoming a formidable political force, especially in the Orlando area, where the vast majority of Puerto Ricans have settled.


    That’s because Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, not immigrants, and are eligible to register to vote as soon as they arrive from the U.S. commonwealth.


    As voters, they lean Democratic.


    In 2014 in Osceola County, which includes Kissimmee, a rise in Democratic voters fueled by an increase in the Puerto Rican population helped Democrats take control of the Board of Commissioners, 4-1, especially notable since that same year Republicans beat out Democrats at state and national levels all across the rest of the country.


    While already felt at the local level, the Puerto Rican political influence could translate to the state and national level as well.


    Florida is a crucial battleground state in general elections, and Puerto Ricans could play a pivotal role in the outcome of this year’s presidential race by further tilting Florida’s political landscape to the left — similar to the way earlier waves of anti-Castro Republican-leaning Cubans in South Florida helped move the state’s political needle toward the right.


    Still, it remains to be seen whether Puerto Ricans will live up to their political potential.


    A migration south


    Historic downtown Kissimmee, FL., where Puerto Ricans are now the second-largest Latino group in Florida behind Cubans and quickly becoming a formidable political force. (Photo: Nick Oza/The Republic)


    Once a sleepy cattle town, and later a destination for retirees, Kissimmee now has one of the fastest-growing Puerto Rican populations in Florida.

    In fact, there are now more Latinos than non-Hispanic Whites.


    At Osceola High School, where 27-year-old Lauren O’Neill attended, “we were the minority,” she said. The restaurant server and part-time college student born and raised in Kissimmee was having a drink at 3 Sisters Speakeasy with 24-year-old Dustin Romack, a bartender and aspiring singer also from Kissimmee.


    The two friends both identified themselves as registered Republicans, but they don’t pay much attention to politics and haven’t been following the presidential race.


    So why then do they consider themselves Republican?


    “To be honest, I followed my parents,” O’Neill said.


    “Yeah, same,” Romack added.


    Meanwhile, Latinos now make up about 62 percent of the city’s 63,392 population, and about half of the Latinos are Puerto Rican.


    “We consider ourselves Latinos. We look a lot like other Latino immigrants.”
    Edwin Melendez, director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies

    Though not immigrants, Puerto Ricans identify with other Hispanics, and in general support immigration reforms to allow undocumented immigrants to gain legal status, according to Edwin Melendez, director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, City University of New York.

    “We consider ourselves Latinos,” Melendez said.

    “We look a lot like other Latino immigrants.”


    He noted that one of the most vocal supporters of immigration reform in Congress is U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, a Democrat from Illinois, is Puerto Rican.


    Even so, as U.S. citizens, some Puerto Ricans are resentful of immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally.


    Maria Malave, 32, who moved from Puerto Rico to Kissimmee in 2009, is leaning toward voting for Hillary Clinton, but she said her husband, an Iraq war veteran, supports Donald Trump because of the tough stance he has taken on illegal immigration.


    “He has a big problem with immigrants, not the immigrants, the illegal immigrants,” Malave said of her husband, one morning while she worked at the front desk of a motel.


    Where ethnicity may trump party affiliation


    On a recent Friday, Chino Ramos spun Latin music until 2 a.m. at Hatfield’s Bar and Grill. The tavern is owned by another Puerto Rican from Chicago, David Morales.

    The next morning, Ramos headed over to the small mini-market he runs and named after his wife, Maria’s Grand Central Station.


    The store, part of the Amtrak station platform, sells products that appeal to the area’s growing Puerto Rican community, as well as to travelers who are also increasingly Puerto Rican.


    “Pasteles, alcapurrias, pastelillos, Coco Rico, Champagne Kola, Malta India, that kind of stuff,” Ramos said later, sitting in his spacious living room overlooking Lake Tohopekaliga. Outside, two red-headed cranes pecked the ground under a palm tree.


    The 64-year-old Ramos was born in Puerto Rico, but grew up in Humboldt Park, the heart of Chicago’s large Puerto Rican community.


    His family was part of the first big Puerto Rican migration to the U.S. in 1950s and '60s.


    “Some of us went to New York and some of us came to Chicago,” Ramos recalled.


    Now he is part of the newest wave hitting Florida,
    after he and his wife left Chicago for the Kissimmee area in 2000, seeking sunshine, new economic opportunities and a milder climate for a now deceased son with cerebral palsy and spina bifida.

    http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/...race/80858216/

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    Senior Member lorrie's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=JohnDoe2;1495388]
    (Photo: Nick Oza/The Republic)
    S.

    Adding to the state’s already fast-growing and increasingly diverse Latino population, Puerto Ricans are now the second largest Latino group in Florida behind Cubans, according to census data.


    They are also quickly becoming a formidable political force, especially in the Orlando area, where the vast majority of Puerto Ricans have settled.


    That’s because Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, not immigrants, and are eligible to register to vote as soon as they arrive from the U.S. commonwealth.


    As voters, they lean Democratic.



    This is not true as my family originally migrated from Spain into Puerto Rico and is 6 generations deep on the island as it is with the majority of Puerto Ricans.

    My biggest problem with this article is stereotyping and grouping Puerto Ricans among Hispanics. Only the government does this.

    Natural born Puerto Ricans are proud Americans that love there country first and do not identify or consider themselves as Hispanic or Latino.

    Puerto Ricans check 'CAUCASIAN', not the box 'HISPANIC' on any government census form. They see no cultural, racial divide or border between the States and island.

    Puerto Ricans look down on Mexican/Latin American Hispanics and have no common interest or similarities. They do not speak the same language, do not
    eat the same food or listen to
    the same music to name just a few....

    The majority of true Puerto Ricans (natural born) lean Republican, not Democrat.

    The migrants that come into Puerto Rico both legal & illegally from third world countries are the population that lean Democrat for all the free handouts just as it is here in the states.


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    Senior Member artclam's Avatar
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    Puerto Ricans check 'CAUCASIAN', not the box 'HISPANIC' on any government census form. They see no cultural, racial divide or border between the States and island.

    The U.S. census forms do not have an option for Caucasian. The choices are White, Black or African American, American Indian or Alaska Native, Asian, and Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander. Hispanic is not considered a race but is an option for ethnicity.

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    2010 census form asks about race and Hispanic ethnicity separately. Credit: U.S. Census Bureau

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank...e-term-at-all/


    Possible 2020 census race/Hispanic question for online respondents, who would click to the next screen to choose more detailed sub-categories such as “Cuban” or “Chinese.” Credit: U.S. Census Bureau
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