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Old 10-06-2017   #12402 (permalink)
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Mérida, Yucatán
Posts: 76,871
An Exodus From Puerto Rico Could Remake Florida Politics

ORLANDO, Fla. — Every day dozens of Puerto Ricans straggle into the Orlando area, fleeing their homes and lives ravaged by Hurricane Maria. In the months to come, officials here said, that number could surge to more than 100,000.

And those numbers could remake politics in Florida, a state where the last two presidential and governor’s races were decided by roughly one percentage point or less.

There are more than a million Puerto Ricans in Florida, a number that has doubled since 2001, driven largely until now by a faltering economy. But their political powers have evolved slowly in this state, and the wave of potential voters from the island could quickly change that calculus.
In a ballroom of a Puerto Rican service organization here this week, a dozen men and women, including activists, a lawyer, an Orange County commissioner, a police officer and a psychotherapist, said the storm had brought the community together like never before.

“Now we see the necessity to come out and organize,” said Trini Quiroz, one of the activists. “So this tragedy brought us all together.”

Under the umbrella of an organization called CASA, 14 different groups have banded together to help provide relief for hurricane victims, from collecting and delivering supplies to Puerto Rico to helping build a resettlement effort in Central Florida.

Emily Bonilla, a Democratic county commissioner who was elected from a district that is 80 percent white, is working to provide services for the new arrivals, mindful that they may soon be her constituents. “Puerto Ricans are unique,” she said. “We support each other regardless of party, but no surprise, the majority become Democrats.”
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