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Philanthropy Thought Leadership

Latinos in Georgia Have Something to Say

By Guest Editors representing Latinos for Democracy

It has been a historic election with more than 145 million voters casting their ballots. Among them, millions of Hispanic/Latinos/Latinx(*) voters turned out to say, “Presente, Estamos Aquí.” Latinos, the largest minority group in the United States, have a growing influence on American politics. Approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino in the U.S. turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote.

Georgia’s Latinx civic and political voice is unique, young, powerful, and increasingly influential. Hispanic/Latinx participation soared by 72% in the recent Presidential election with over 160,000 voters turning out across the state. (**)

Early voting numbers show that 48% of advance voters, either in person or via absentee ballot, had not participated in the 2016 election, and 50% of those Latino early, in-person voters were under 40 years old as compared to 29.9% of non-Latino voters in the state.

Georgia’s over one million Latinos, many of them immigrants, play a vital role in building and strengthening the state’s social, economic, and political fabric. From 2000 to 2019, the Hispanic population in Georgia grew from 435,000 to over one million-plus residents, a 132% increase in population. Today, we comprise nearly 10% of the total state population. As one of the fastest-growing states, Georgia draws Latinos from all over the U.S. and world, with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans leading as the largest communities. The 2020 Census results will provide us with an updated picture; however, this growth expands eligible Latino voter representation in Georgia, particularly in the counties of Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, DeKalb, Clarke, Whitfield, Hall, Rockdale and Newton. 

Historically, it has been local Latinx leaders, volunteers, and organizations who have concentrated their efforts to engage, inform, register, translate, advocate for language access, mobilize and ensure our communities do not go another election unnoticed or unheard. Like other multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-cultural communities, we promoted early voting, provided voter assistance, trained volunteers to navigate the electoral process, provided outreach in various languages, and ran voter protection efforts. Our numbers show our strategies and campaigns worked. Even with these Herculean efforts, there is still much work to be done as challenges remain.

Unlike states or cities with dense population areas, Georgia has a dispersed population outside of the Atlanta metro area with critical pockets of Latinos residing in rural areas. A scarcity of resources, conflicting voter information, and voter suppression tactics create real obstacles to participating in elections. Through statewide grassroots engagement and the strengthening of Latino networks, the Latino community is exercising their fundamental right to vote and be heard in this country.  

Today, thanks to thousands of community voters and volunteers, and local Latinx leadership, Georgia will play a critical role in elections for years to come. We hope that this time, as we prepare for runoffs and a new cycle of elections and redistricting, input from local Latinx grassroots leaders is sought and integrated into strategies and tactics that reach our unique and diverse community in Georgia. 

The South has something to say, and our voice as a diverse Latinx community gets stronger every year. Our vote will impact future federal, state, and local elections, bolstering the power of communities of color and multicultural groups, which without a doubt, will re-shape the political narrative in our country and Georgia.

We are ready to continue to do this work. 

Latinos for Democracy includes:

Gigi Pedraza, Executive Director, Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia) http://www.LCFGeorgia.org 

Jerry Gonzalez, Chief Executive Officer, GALEO and the GALEO Latino Community Development Fund  http://www.galeo.org 

America Gruner, President, Coalition of Latino Leaders (CLILA) http://www.clila.org 

Marco Palma, President, Los Vecinos de Buford Highway http://www.vecinosbh.org 

Rebeca Gibbons, Executive Director, Unidos Latino Association, Inc https://www.facebook.com/unilatinos/

David Araya, CEO & Co-Founder, HoPe (Hispanic Organization Promoting Education), Inc https://www.hopestrong.org

(*) Latinx is new gender-neutral term often times used to include individuals of Latin American descent and cultural identity without prioritizing a binary narrative. We use it in this document interchangeably with Latinos and Hispanic. 

(**) Sources: Latino Decisions and TargetSmart


This is sponsored content.


  1. ChristopherATL November 24, 2020 7:47 am

    I am happy to see the Hispanic/Latinx communities in Georgia organize to vote and to take their rightful place at the table in this state. We need representation at all levels to ensure all those in our wonderful state have a voice. Diversity is a beautiful thing! I am happy to wholeheartedly embrace all the wonderful growth we are blessed with by living and working with people from all over the world here in Georgia. Welcome home my new friends!Report

  2. mara November 25, 2020 6:03 pm

    Using ‘Hispanic/Latinx/Latino to push for rights for illegal immigrants is insulting and sickening! (and “Latinx’ is eye-roll-silliness)

    From the “that’s pretty much the point” department: Georgia’s E-Verify law represents a challenge for illegal aliens who want to open a business and be more visible in Georgia. This critical analysis comes from the executive director and founder of an ethnic-based Decatur group headed by Gigi Pedraza.

    Pedraza, head of the Latino Community Fund, was featured in the Saporta Report last month (2019) outlining the need “to understand the needs of Latinx Entrepreneurs” and highlighting a study her organization put out last year.

    “Undocumented Latinos and other undocumented immigrants face perhaps the biggest of these challenges before they are even able to start a business. In 2011, the state Legislature passed House Bill 87, the Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act. The law required evidence that an applicant for a business license or other documents needed to run a business has approval to use the federal work authorization program” wrote Pedraza. She means the no-cost E-Verify system.

    She went on to incorrectly explain to Saporta’s readers that use of E-Verify somehow creates a citizenship requirement for business owners. It doesn’t.

    Pedraza in the Saporta report: “Essentially, this instituted a citizenship requirement for Georgia business owners to operate lawfully, pay taxes and act as a visible part of their local communities and economies.”

    Employers need not be U.S. citizens to be E-Verify users, but there is a requirement for a Social Security Number to register as a user, making it difficult for an illegal alien to receive authorization to use a federal system designed to help keep black market labor out of the workforce and to protect wages for legal workers.

    Unsurprisingly, a goal for the Pedraza’s enterprise is to start a legislative process to end the state’s E-Verify requirement to obtain a business license: “Reducing this burdensome licensing restriction would allow additional Latino businesses to start and flourish, powered by individuals who call Georgia home and have dedicated most of their lives to build and contribute to this country” wrote Pedraza.

    New to this writer, the openly restricted Latino Community Fund requires that other non-profit organizations meet two of the following descriptions for membership:

    * Be Latino-led (Executive Director or CEO)
    * Be governed by a majority Latino board of directors
    * Serve a majority Latino client population (here).

    Pedraza’s guest column “Breaking down barriers for Latino Entrepreneurs” can be seen here. The study can be seen here.
    An experienced word of warning to readers who may dismiss the chances of any legislative action in the Republican-ruled state legislature to abolish the E-Verify law – don’t.

    The combined pressure from business donors, the mantra of “rolling back restrictions on small business”, the possibility of increasing the “great state for business” reputation by intentionally making life easier for illegal alien-run ventures and the ridiculous premise offered by Establishment Republican “influencers” that additional pandering would result in more Hispanic votes for the GOP at election time is powerful fodder under the Gold Dome.


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