“Everything has changed now,” said Regina Romero, the Democratic mayor of Tucson whose parents emigrated from Sonora, Mexico, with her older siblings. “But if anything, it tipped public sentiment in our favor. People here understand that we need people to come from Mexico to fuel our economy. People here understand more and more that this is a force, not a threat. “
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Kassie Waters, a 33-year-old nurse in Tucson, said that four years ago immigration was at the top of her list of most important political issues. But this year, the mother of three, whose husband works as a police officer, said she was more concerned about “rioters, looters and police being prosecuted for doing their jobs.”
“Four years ago my concerns were totally different – immigration was an important issue,” said Ms Waters, who attended a recent book signing with Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County Sheriff who defended draconian immigration policies. Ms Water, who voted for president in 2016 and plans to do so again this year, said Mr Trump still supports law enforcement by focusing on cities rather than the border and said that ‘she had no problem as’ the immigration issue was put on the back burner.
Many Latin families in Arizona have mixed immigration status – undocumented immigrant parents, for example, who are raising children who have received DACA or who are citizens born in the United States. Putting immigration on the back burner is not an option for them. In the southern part of the state, many families have been commuting across the border regularly for generations, leading a sort of binational life.
And many young Latino voters formed their own political identities as a result of anti-immigration sentiments in the early 2000s, and the issue remains alive.
“It‘s not an abstract concept for us, a theoretical attack – it’s something that has an impact on the way the world sees us, the way we are treated,” said Graciela Martinez, 34, who works in marketing in Phoenix. “We had to fight for everything we have, and we have to keep fighting.”