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California

Thinking of family — and fearing a wall — Latino voters take to the polls in L.A.

Outside a recreation center in Lincoln Heights, Ana Castillo, 65, scanned her sample ballot one last time before voting.

She remained a tad uncertain about how she’d vote on state propositions, but Castillo had made up her mind about the presidency.

“They’re both not great, but Trump is worse than Clinton,” she said in Spanish. "[Clinton has] made her mistakes, but … Trump is racist. Everything he says is not OK.”

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Castillo left El Salvador and arrived in the United States in 1991. She became a citizen in 2009. For years, she worked as a hotel housekeeper, but now she is a caretaker.

She said she didn’t like Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s talk about building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico, which she worries would keep out people like her who came to the U.S. looking for opportunity.

“Not only bad people come here,” she said. “Good people come here to work. A lot come to study.”

Recent polls have led to predictions of a record Latino turnout.

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Jeanette Miranda, 19, voted for the first time Tuesday.
Jeanette Miranda, 19, voted for the first time Tuesday.
(Brittny Mejia / Los Angeles Times )

At the Evergreen Recreation Center in Boyle Heights, Jeanette Miranda, 19, said she voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, but that wasn’t the only decision on her mind.

Miranda wants to be a teacher someday, so she said more money for schools is important to her.

“I want to make a change in my community as well, not just voting for the presidency,” she said.

Miranda said she also was thinking about family. She said her parents came to the U.S. to provide her with a “better life.”  And that’s part of the reason she was excited to vote Tuesday — for the first time.  

“My parents,” she said, “I just don’t want to let them down.”

Katherine Gonzalez, 23, a Boyle Heights resident, voted Tuesday.
Katherine Gonzalez, 23, a Boyle Heights resident, voted Tuesday.
(Brittny Mejia / Los Angeles Times )

Katherine Gonzalez, 23, also voting at Evergreen, said some of her family members are undocumented and don’t have the right to vote.

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She said her father’s side of the family is from Mexico, and a lot of her aunts and uncles don’t have immigration papers.

“So this vote is kind of for them,” she said. “I’m going to use my right.”

Martha and Juan Sanchez, East L.A. residents, voted for the first time today for Hillary Clinton.
Martha and Juan Sanchez, East L.A. residents, voted for the first time today for Hillary Clinton.
(Brittny Mejia / Los Angeles Times )

East L.A. residents headed to Brooklyn Avenue Elementary School to cast their vote. Juan and Martha Sanchez  were doing so for the first time.

“This country has given us so many opportunities,” Juan Sanchez said. “We’re thankful to God first, but second to this nation that has given us these opportunities.”

Bridgett Vazquez was blunt when asked about her reason for voting: “I just didn’t want Trump to win.”

The 20-year-old East L.A. resident said she hadn’t planned to vote, “but knowing that Trump could win kind of got me out of bed.”

“He doesn’t like my people,” Vazquez said. “He wants my family to leave. Of course I was going to do something to stop it.”

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Barbara Luevano, 35, said she felt as though her culture had been “personally attacked” by Trump during the course of his campaign.

Luevano’s husband, Francisco Rodriguez, 41, said it was “disturbing” that someone like Trump could get as far in the election as the candidate has. “I’m baffled by this whole election,” he said.

But neither husband nor wife said they were worried Trump would win.

“If anything, we’re just here to vote for those who can’t,” Luevano said.

Back in Lincoln Heights, Blanca Magaña, 50, who works at a doctor’s office, said she was personally motivated to come out and vote for Clinton. She said she expected many others to feel likewise.

Trump’s plan to build a wall may have “made him famous,” Magaña said, but it was “something he never should have said.”

brittny.mejia@latimes.com

Twitter: @brittny_mejia

 

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UPDATES:

2 p.m.: This post was updated with additional voter reaction from East L.A.

This article was orginally published at 12:50 p.m.


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