Clinton campaign launches effort to land NC Latino voters

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign is launching an effort to increase registration and turnout among Latinos in North Carolina, saying the community’s voters could determine who wins the White House.

On Friday, Lorella Praeli, the campaign’s national Latino vote director, was in Charlotte for the formal kickoff. The campaign has a Latino vote director in North Carolina and has trained other staffers on reaching out to the Latino community.

“Donald Trump is a name that everyone knows, all Hispanic households, and it’s not for good reasons. People know that he has led a campaign of hate,” Praeli said in an interview. She added that Clinton can’t afford to assume the fears of Hispanic voters will translate into support and that the campaign must work hard to capture the vote.

Trump has predicted he will win the Latino vote and told NBC News: “I have a great relationship with the Mexican people... I have many legal immigrants working with me. And many of them come from Mexico.”

A recent poll by Latino Decisions of 3,729 Hispanics found Clinton’s support at 70 percent, with at Trump at 19 percent.

In North Carolina, the Clinton campaign’s efforts include reaching out to the faith community, organizing small businesses to set up voter registration boxes and recruiting young undocumented immigrants – known as “Dreamers” – to help out.

To the “Dreamers,” Praeli says: “We know you cannot vote, but we know that you can play a role in influencing the outcome of the election by sharing your stories.”

She was an undocumented immigrant herself until she gained a green card through marriage in 2012. She’s now a U.S. citizen and voted in her first election in the primary.

Praeli 28, a Peruvian immigrant, moved to the United States when she was 10 for medical treatment. She joined the Clinton campaign from United We Dream, one of the largest groups representing children of undocumented immigrants.

Nationally, the Hispanic electorate is projected to reach 27.3 million eligible voters in 2016, up from 19.5 million in 2008, according to Pew Research Center analysis.

Clinton backs immigration legislation that would create a path to citizenship. She also would defend President Barack Obama’s stalled executive actions that were aimed to protect 5 million undocumented immigrants from being deported.

Trump, the Republican presidential candidate, speaks regularly at his campaign rallies about building a wall to keep Mexican immigrants out. And earlier this month, he stopped short of calling for the mass deportation of millions of people who have not committed crimes beyond their immigration offenses. But he also said those who want to live legally in the U.S. will need to leave and head to the back of the line in their home countries.

Ronnie Glassberg: 704-358-5819, @ronnieglassberg