Voto Latino Power Summit Kicks Off To Mobilize Young Latinos

Voto Latino shirts
Voto Latino shirtsSuzanne Gamboa / NBC News

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By Stephen Nuño-Pérez

With Hillary Clinton now virtually assured to be the Democratic nominee for President, the Voto Latino Power Summit being held this weekend in Las Vegas, Nevada holds particular significance for the growing power of Latino millennials, who make up 44 percent of all Latinos according to recent analysis from Pew Research.

An estimated 3.2 million Latinos will be able to cast their votes for the first time in the upcoming presidential election, and will likely pit Republican frontrunner Donald Trump against Clinton. With Donald Trump poised to get the lowest vote ever among Latinos for a Republican presidential nominee, organizations like Voto Latino will be an important venue for using the attention of the election to connect young Latinos with each other in networking opportunities and getting them motivated to become active citizens.

With star power on their side, Voto Latino employs the burgeoning list of Latino/a movie stars and social media giants to get their voice out to the technologically sophisticated audience.

Voto Latino Power Summit SpeakersVoto Latino

María Teresa Kumar, president and CEO of Voto Latino, said people will point to the Arab Spring or the Green Revolution as the first times technology was used to galvanize a movement. But Kumar said that before those movements, there were young immigrants and children of immigrants who organized through My Space and built the turnout for the 2006 immigrant marches across the country.

In the years since, Occupy Wall Street, Black Lives Matter, marriage equality and Fight for $15 minim wage movements have used technology similarly.

RELATED: For 2016, Almost Half the Latino Electorate Will Be Millennials

Young undocumented immigrants who call themselves "Dreamers" were successful in pressuring President Obama to authorize the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program that now shields more than 780,000 from deportation and allows them to work. Their activism and that of others helped bring about an expanded DACA and the DAPA program, the latter for parents not legally here and with U.S. citizen and legal resident children.

Voto Latino’s focus now is to help take the movement to take the 10 years of activism and push it forward into one that not only deals with immigration but the many other issues Latinos face, so the 50 percent of Latinos eligible to vote, but who have not shown up at the polls in recent elections, will see their interests represented too, Kumar said.

“I have a sense we are getting to a point as a community that we have had it. We’ve had it with being disrespected, not just being brave at the polls but finishing the agenda we started 10 years ago,” said Kumar.

Republican nominee Donald Trump has now become an infamous household name among many Latinos for kicking off his bid for the GOP ticket by trashing immigrants and Mexico.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending the best. They're not sending you, they're sending people that have lots of problems and they're bringing those problems," Trump said in a speech at Trump Tower in New York last year at the start of his presidential bid. "They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime. They're rapists and some, I assume, are good people, but I speak to border guards and they're telling us what we're getting."

Donald Trump recently came under fire for saying a federal judge appointed to preside over the lawsuit against Trump University was not qualified because he was "Mexican" - the judge, Gonzalo Curiel was born in Indiana but is of Mexican heritage. "I'm building a wall. It's an inherent conflict of interest," Trump told the Wall Street Journal, referring to a wall along the U.S. Mexico border he's pledged to construct if elected.

When asked why Latinos have come under fire in this election, Kumar said, “The reason people are going after us so harshly …is they see our potential.”

At this weekend's Voto Latino Power Summit, organizers like Kumar hope that young people realize the potential of their voting and political power.

NBC Latino's Suzanne Gamboa contributed to this report.

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