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CHICAGO — It might seem obvious that the angst and fear President Donald Trump has stirred up with his thinly veiled verbal assaults on people of color will translate into votes for a Democrat — anyone but Trump — but it’s just not a slam dunk.

While 62% of U.S. Hispanics say they are certain to vote for a Democratic candidate, a still stunning 22% of Hispanic registered voters surveyed at the beginning of September approved of Trump’s job performance, according to a Latino Decisions poll.

Nearly the same percentage said that if they had to choose between Trump, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren or New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, they’d choose the president — even though the same poll uncovered that 50% of respondents thought Trump and the Republicans are being hostile to Latinos rather than attempting to cultivate their votes.

This will be inconceivable only to those who don’t understand that there is no such thing as a cohesive “Latino” community. The Hispanics in this country are as diverse as can be, and they are not held together by language, immigration status or experiences as a so-called minority.

Indeed, we are probably about to witness the growth of both ethnic and political diversity in the Latino community. That’s because, since about 2000, the increase in the Latino population has been mostly driven by births, not immigration.

Latino children have been a quarter of all U.S. public school students since about 2016, and, as a teacher, I get to see this diversity. There are children who recently arrived from Latin American countries and those who are the second or third (or more) generation to be born here.

On paper, many of these students can be nearly indistinguishable from their non-Hispanic peers. I have two Latina Hildas in my fourth-grade class, plus a whole crop of Sophias, Olivias and Emmas. The boys are no different; there are multiple Brandons, an Aiden, an Ethan and a Jackson.

Though some of these kids have dark skin and brown hair and eyes, others have lighter features. Either way, growing up as a quarter or more of a classroom has an impact on a student’s perception of the power dynamics in a group and in a school building — it does not lend itself to growing up feeling like a “minority.”

This isn’t to say that an Americanized name and the privilege of U.S. citizenship would eventually have some sort of automatic correlation with support for the Donald Trumps of the world. But a general friendliness toward the Republican Party has always been a hallmark of Latinos who own businesses.

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JPMorgan Chase recently estimated that Latino-owned businesses could, in the near future, potentially add $1.4 trillion to the economy.

That’s a lot of Latinos who are probably open to a business-friendly, non-immigration-driven agenda pitch from the Republican Party — if only they’d abandon the immigrant bashing and try a welcoming strategy.

And there is plenty of opportunity.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents, 73%, said that it was even more important to vote in the 2020 election than it was in 2016, making Latinos a prime target for any candidate at any level. It’s just a matter of reaching out to them.

I recently listened in on a state organizer-level conference call for a prominent presidential candidate who is hoping to make inroads in Wisconsin. During the 50-minute call, along with ground-level strategy and tactics, one person asked about outreach to the African American voter base. No one brought up Hispanics, even though they are now a slightly larger percentage of the state’s population than blacks.

That’s the story of the Latino voters in America: Ripe for the picking, but they are either taken for granted as a vote for whichever Democrat appears on a ballot or forgotten about altogether.

Is that because in the back of people’s mind’s they believe the false rhetoric about “most” Latinos here being in the country illegally and therefore unable to vote? Or is there Sleeping Giant fatigue — people tired of hearing about how important the Latino vote is, but knowing this electorate has yet to punch its own weight?

It hardly matters. What’s important is that if campaigns don’t start Latino outreach now, they will be squandering an important opportunity with voters who are ready and waiting to be courted.

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Cepeda, a Chicago-area teacher, writes for the Washington Post: estherjcepeda@washpost.com and @estherjcepeda.

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