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November 15, 2012

Host: José Cárdenas

Latino Vote

  |   Video
  • Francisco Heredia, Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota, discusses what was done to increase Latino voter turnout in the recent Presidential and State elections.
  • Francisco Heredia - Executive Director, Mi Familia Vota
Category: Elections   |   Keywords: vote, 2012, vote 2012, latino, ,

View Transcript
Jose Cardenas: An historic turnout by Hispanic voters helped President Obama’s victory in last week’s election. Latinos not only helped him win in key battleground states, but they made up 10% of the electorate for the first time ever. Here in Arizona, election workers continue to go through ballots uncounted on election day. With me to talk about that and the Latino vote in Arizona is Francisco Heredia, executive director for Mi Familia Vota. Welcome back to "Horizonte." We've had you on before to talk about the effort. Just kind of a summary. Are you pleased with how things turned out?

Francisco Heredia: Definitely. I think we will see as far as votes cast, the largest number of Latinos ever voting in an election here in Arizona. We're pleased. There's still a lot of work to be done in the next few years. More Latinos becoming citizens, registering to vote and casting more ballots here in Arizona. But we're satisfied with the results. There's preliminary results there because there's so many uncounted ballots across the state still to be counted.

Jose Cardenas: And where do we stand in that regard with respect to the number of uncounted ballots as of the middle of this week?

Francisco Heredia: Still many uncounted early ballots statewide. Largest share being here in Maricopa county and the question is the provisional ballots, which have to be reviewed manually by election officials and workers. So that will take some time until all the ballots are counted. I think Maricopa county has about 115,000 provisional ballots they still need to count. And it's tens of thousands more across the state.

Jose Cardenas: Based upon what you do know and what you can anticipate, in absolute numbers, roughly how many Latinos voted this election?

Francisco Heredia: We can't be certain yet as far as the numbers because there are so many uncounted ballots and we think that a lot of those uncounted ballots are in Latino precincts and areas. So we're still not sure on the numbers but as far as votes cast, we're predicting over three to 400,000 and to that margin of Latinos voting in this election, which will be the highest ever.

Jose Cardenas: As compared to 2008, which was the previous record, right?

Francisco Heredia: Yes.

Jose Cardenas: And what was that number?

Francisco Heredia: 274 for Latinos. And it's not an exact science how we figure out how we know -- we do Hispanic searches, so around Tucson, 274,000 Latinos participated in 2008, which was the highest to that point and we will surpass that this year.

Jose Cardenas: Now, you made reference to a lot of the provisional ballots being in areas where there are a lot of Latino voters. Are there some lessons to be learned about how we handle the provisional ballots?

Francisco Heredia: Yeah, I think it calls upon a look at our election system and how we can improve upon that and how we can inform and educate our public on the voting process, especially Latinos. I think that's a lesson learned and our work moving forward in informing the public about the process of voting, we received tons of calls on election day and prior to election day on how to vote and how to mail the ballot or, you know, if I have to mail it or take it to the polls. So those little things that we need to definitely inform and educate our public on on the process of voting.

Jose Cardenas: Now, Mi Familia Vota is nonpartisan, is that right?

Francisco Heredia: We're nonpartisan.

Jose Cardenas: So people who express disappointment that certain officials who ran for election were not defeated, for example, the arpaio race, that's not how you measure success because your point is getting the Latino vote out. But taking that point on directly, what's your response to people who say it didn't make a difference because sheriff arpaio still won by a fairly comfortable margin?

Francisco Heredia: It's misguided there. Latinos cannot -- do not have the numbers yet to really propel a certain candidate to win or lose the election. It has to be part of a larger package, a larger group that in order for that candidate to win or lose. So what we look at with the growth that the Latinos have had over the last four years. Since 2008, Latinos here in Arizona have had the most voter registration growth across the country, over 41% more Latinos have registered to vote, an increase on the early voting sign-ups here in Arizona as we see more municipalities and more elections moving to early ballots, we want to make sure Latinos are not left behind. So we see that growth and the growth of turnout throughout the -- since 2008 has increased. So it's about the long term, people want to focus on the short term but we always knew that to build the culture of participation in our community takes a long process, it takes some time to make sure Latinos know about the system and becoming citizens, registering to vote and voting in every election, be it for presidential or the local school board election.

Jose Cardenas: And I do want to talk about the presidential election and some of the other states and the impact of the Latino vote but before I do that, there was a lot of concern pre-election about mistakes in the Spanish language materials here in Arizona. Did that turn out to have any kind of impact?

Francisco Heredia: We didn't see many folks say that was an issue. It is definitely a concern, why those mistakes happened and we take the county for their word that it was an honest mistake but we want to make sure how we move ahead and how we inform our public in the Latino community about the election process. So we want to make sure that we work with the county to ensure that more individuals are aware about the process and, you know, have the right information to cast their ballot.

Jose Cardenas: Now, Mi Familia Vota was active in other states where there's no doubt that the Latino vote influenced the outcome of the election. Nevada would be one of those. What do you say about the overall efforts nationwide?

Francisco Heredia: We're a national organization and in key states like Nevada, Colorado, Florida where we saw the competitiveness of many races, the Senate races and presidential races, whereas the Latino vote did propel President Obama to win those states. In Florida, they took a while to count those ballots but we believe that Latinos were one of the main reasons why President Obama won Florida, including Colorado and Nevada. So our work there with other organizations in those states really propelled we believe President Obama to win re-election. Be that, Latinos cast their ballots for whoever they wanted to represent them, but the majority looking at polls, President Obama won those states by over 60-70%, which provided that margin for him to win those states.

Jose Cardenas: Now, there's an expectation that because of the strong showing by Latino voters, immigration reform is much more likely, not simply because the president may feel an obligation to fulfill promises but also Republicans anxious to court the Latino vote and to prevent further slippage in the demographics are going to want to make sure immigration reform passes.

Francisco Heredia: Definitely. Latinos care about every issue, every voter cares about. Jobs, the economy, education, but immigration has been one of the main issues that Latinos have said they want to bring solutions to that issue. And we're seeing, you know, some space being created by both Republicans and democrats right now on the immigration issue and forming a comprehensive immigration reform package. For us, we will work hard. We will continue our work and engaging our community to get active and push for a comprehensive immigration reform package in every state that we're in so that we solve this issue that is hurting our community, dividing our community, so we're seeing that conversation being had. Jeff Blake said he's open, the candidate here that ran for U.S. Senate, and the presumptive winner for the U.S. Senate race, said he's open for comprehensive immigration. So we're hearing that all across the board. So in order for us to really pass immigration reform, we need bipartisan support. So it looks like there's some space being created right now for that.

Jose Cardenas: We're almost out of time but let's jump ahead four years from now when you won't have Barack Obama at the head of the ticket. Presumably immigration reform will not be the hot issue that it is right now. Do you expect the numbers of Latinos participating to be higher?

Francisco Heredia: Yes and we expect the trends that we see as far as the growth, more Latinos are going to be 18 and older and becoming registered voters, more Latinos are becoming citizens and by 2016, you know, projections put it in the 2025 that Arizona will be a competitive state. We believe 2016 because of Latino growth in the electorate, Arizona will be a competitive state like Nevada, Colorado and Florida, that's being talked about in the presidential races.

Jose Cardenas: Well, director of Mi Familia Vota, thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."

Francisco Heredia: Thank you for the opportunity.

Migrant Desert Deaths

  |   Video
  • U.S. Border Patrol figures show that the Tucson sector has the highest number of migrant deaths in the desert. Luis Carrion, Producer from KUAT in Tucson, explains the update from the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office.
  • Luis Carrion - Producer, KUAT
Category: Immigration   |   Keywords: migrant, desert, deaths, ,

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Jose Cardenas: U.S. Border patrol figures shows a 47% decrease in apprehensions since 2009. However, migrant deaths in the desert continue at a steady pace and the Tucson sector has the highest numbers. Producer Luis Carrion from KUAT in Tucson has an update from the Pima county medical examiner’s office.

Luis Carrion: The international border between Mexico and the U.S. can be a contentious place and since policies were implemented in the 1990s, thousands of remains of men, women and children have been recovered on the U.S.-Mexico border.

Gregory Hess: We've been a hotbed for this for about 10 years, especially with the death aspect of it.

Luis Carrion: He heads the Pima county office of the medical examiner. As the chief medical examiner in Pima County, it's his job to provide active and timely death investigations for the county.

Gregory Hess: This we did for DNA.

Gregory Hess: In the state of Arizona, the medical examiner system, there's no corners and the counties are responsible for death investigations in Arizona. Pima county includes Tucson and a big chunk of the border and we do quite a bit of work for other counties that are smaller and don't have their own medical examiner office.

Luis Carrion: According to the doctor, having such a big chunk of the U.S.-Mexico border falls under the jurisdiction of his office means that migrant deaths account for much of his death.

Gregory Hess: The freshest numbers are the ones I compiled at the end of 2011. So at the end of 2011, we had recorded 1,911 migrant deaths since 2001. And we actually had identified almost 1,200 of those. So we do end up identifying more people than we don't but still, this is just so many. Nobody else has this problem.

Luis Carrion: Migrant deaths peeked in 2010 when 230 bodies were recovered in the desert. Border patrol has reported a significant drop in apprehensions this year but the number of bodies recovered by the medical examiner's office are on track to match the 184-body yearly average.

Gregory Hess: Do they have any tattoos, any surgeries, any dental work that's distinctive? These are the things we can try to match to try to identify them. If we can't, we can try to resort to DNA.

Luis Carrion: According to the doctor, his office has worked to expedite the process of identification and delivery of remains to the appropriate parties.

Gregory Hess: We've tried to be more aggressive about releasing remains when we're done with them and trying to find incentives for people responsible for burial of unidentified or indigent remains to come and get them quicker.

Luis Carrion: According to him, the sheer number of bodies that come through this facility has created storage problems for his office, a situation that is unique to the border dynamic of Pima county.

Gregory Hess: 2005 was the first year that we ran out of space in our cooler. So our indoor cooler holds about 120 people, which is actually quite a bit. So we exceeded that in 2005. We had to bring in a refrigerated truck, built this outdoor cooler that holds 142, which we exceeded a couple of times in subsequent years.

Luis Carrion: No other medical examiner has the problem of dealing with so many migrant deaths. These are unidentified bodies that are recovered from the desert far from the families and friends that can help identify who they are.

Gregory Hess: So essentially, this is a male but we don't know who it is. We found these remains in 2012.

Luis Carrion: The current migration dynamic has increased his workload and he says the problem is complex and any foreseeable solution remains elusive.

Gregory Hess: Clearly, if there wasn't an economic incentive for people to cross, they wouldn't do so. That sounds basic. How do you fix that is a big question. Other people would prefer to build sort of a Great Wall of China type situation and physically prevent people from getting across the desert and perhaps that would be effective, although likely people would find other ways if that were there in some fashion.

Luis Carrion: He says human migration both legal and illegal has taken place before around the world and for the team being, Pima county is at the epicenter of a major historical event but he says at some point things will have to change.

Gregory Hess: And for us anyway, we're just going to keep working as we have been until we suddenly stop finding bodies.

New ASU Mariachi Training Program

  |   Video
  • This week, ASU and Rosie's House, a music academy for children, launched a new mariachi training program. Ruben Hernandez, a member of the ASU Mariachi Committee, and Kimberly Marshall, Director of the ASU School of Music, talk about the partnership.
  • Ruben Hernandez - ASU Mariachi Committee
  • Kimberly Marshall - Director, ASU School of Music
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: music, mariachi, training, program,

View Transcript
Jose Cardenas: This week, Arizona State University and Rosie’S house, a music academy for children launched a new mariachi training program. The program will be taught by professor Jeff Nevin, a world-class mariachi performer will teach at Arizona State University in the spring. With me to talk about this partnership is Ruben Hernandez, a member of the ASU mariachi committee member. Also here is Kimberly Marshall, director of the Arizona State University School of Music. Kimberly, thanks for joining us. Let's talk very quickly about this relationship between the school of music and Rosie's house.

Kimberly Marshall: We thought it would be very important to have a fine mariachi program at the school of music. It's one of the finest schools in the country and we have fabulous instrumentalists and a real need for this type of program. Our local schools are calling out for it. So we have made the decision to have a fine course in mariachi studies. We've brought in a wonderful professor --

Jose Cardenas: He'll be working with some of the young people we see on the screen right now?

Kimberly Marshall: He will and his graduate students will be working even more directly with him. So Jeff is teaching a course in mariachi studies at ASU and Rosie's house has just launched their own mariachi program for students ages 12 to 18. And so many of the mariachis at ASU are going to be working with these young people, helping to keep them the different instruments and, of course, the many styles of mariachi playing. So it's a partnership, it's a way that the school of music at the university is working with the community to help foster a mariachi culture.

Jose Cardenas: Give us just a real quick overview of who Jeff Nevin is and how he came to be at ASU.

Kimberly Marshall: He grew up in Tucson. He always pursued his love of mariachi, but he also got a degree in composition. He came to the ASU school of music for a master's in music theory and then went on to achieve a Ph.D. in composition at the university of California in San Diego. And all the while, developing a very important connection with the world of mariachi, touring all over the world really. And he set up the first A.B. program in mariachi in the country just outside San Diego and so we were able to bring our alum back to start our own mariachi program at the school of music.

Jose Cardenas: And it will be one of only about two programs like this in the country.

Kimberly Marshall: Oh, really, there are no programs that have an undergraduate concentration in mariachi right now. It's really very, very unique. And we're looking to create whole communities of support in different ways because it's possible for nonmusic majors to study mariachi, also for community members to sign up for some of these programs and the response has been tremendous.

Jose Cardenas: Kimberly, thanks for that overview. Reuben, how did you get involved in this effort? You've been around the community a long time, you know mariachi. What was it that got you involved in this particular effort?

Ruben Hernandez: Knowing Kimberly and knowing that I am very active in the arts and culture arena of the community, when we were putting our heads together and saying how can we bring a mariachi program that's world-class to ASU? One of the things we decided to do and that I advised was let's get some Latino professors at ASU involved. So we got Carlos Ibanez.

Jose Cardenas: Head of the transborder school of studies.

Ruben Hernandez: He's the director, and Paul Espinosa at the school also. Carlos Castillo-Chavez, a professor of mathematical biology at ASU and a friend of Kimberly's and we invited the owner of Mario cafe who had expressed an interest in helping because she's an avid community arts and culture activist herself.

Jose Cardenas: Why would it be important to have this in an academic setting? We're in the southwest, we have a border with Mexico, there are mariachis everywhere. You have the annual mariachi conference and so forth. Why this need? What need do you think this fills?

Ruben Hernandez: Particularly here in the valley, we didn't have a world-class university-level mariachi curriculum and Jeff brings that very unique quality to ASU by agreeing to be an adjunct professor. He's employed at southwest college near San Diego concurrently but he's here at ASU and we felt that due to the controversies of S.B. 1070 and the political atmosphere, which was very hostile some said to the Latino community that to bring a mariachi world-class program here would be a point of pride to the Latino community to show them that ASU is not just a white ivory tower but that it is, in fact -- wants to be embedded in the local community and in particular the Latino community.

Jose Cardenas: As I understand it, despite his Anglo last name and he is Anglo, Jeff is a pretty hot commodity within the mariachi performing world. In fact, he's currently on his way to Mexico city to perform there?

Ruben Hernandez: Exactly and he is. He's also a composer and he's had a couple of previous concerts that I've been to at ASU. One with some of the ASU school of music faculty who do composing, doing some of their original compositions and kind of meshing that with his mariachi music. And also just a mariachi concert for the ASU community and the valley Latino community that was free.

Jose Cardenas: What do we expect to come from this? We've got Jeff and he'll be on campus next semester and I understand enrollment was doubled than what had been anticipated? Where do you expect it to go from there?

Ruben Hernandez: Jeff will also be sharing teaching duties between the school of music and the transborder studies school. Carlos Ibanez arranged that so that his students could be served by this expert in Latino music, if you will, as well as having the mariachi program there. So it actually is a twofer. You have him working at the school of music, you have him working with the transborder studies program and everybody, all the students have both benefited and the community benefits.

Jose Cardenas: And there's a desire ultimately to have the students who graduate from the program and I realize this is just an area of specialty, they're music students but to have them go out into the schools and do the same kinds of things with other groups that are going on with Rosie's house.

Ruben Hernandez: That was part of the vision of bringing a world-class mariachi instructor here to ASU was to have that instructor in a sense plant seeds in the local schools and in the -- and in particular the Latino-led nonprofits to create their own mariachi music programs so that more and more students can be -- can learn about their culture through the music, you know. This is building bridges between the cultures and bridges of understanding through music and that was one of the actual goals of the vision that we had and that has manifested. We plan to see this program progress as we get more sustainable funding through the years and the graduates from the ASU mariachi program to go ahead and themselves teach in the community also. So it multiplies the effect of qualified teachers in our community.

Jose Cardenas: Reuben, one last question or topic area. Going back to this issue of funding and Rosie's house, they've got some funding for this initial effort but there's a lot more to do to get the instruments and other things that they need to make this program a success.

Ruben Hernandez: Fundraising both at the school of music and Rosie's house are crucial to sustain this program. Right now, they're targeting 50 students for the Rosie's house program. They would love to have 300 students. But the obstacle comes in from having enough instruments so they're looking for financing buy more instruments and it's a non-tuition program at Rosie's house so that extra funding will allow more students to have non-tuition training. If people want to donate, they can go on the Internet and they'll get some information about that. It's www.rosieshouse.org. You can connect to the website that way and to the organization and it has information there that the whole audience can learn from and connect with Rosie's house.

Jose Cardenas: Thanks for joining us to talk about this wonderful program. Much appreciated.

Ruben Hernandez: Pleasure.

Jose Cardenas: That’s our show for this Thursday evening. From all of us here at "Horizonte," I’m José Cárdenas. Have a good night.