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Intersection: How Will Newly Arrived Puerto Ricans Affect Battleground Florida?

Photo: Erik Hersman, Flickr.
Photo: Erik Hersman, Flickr.

More than 200,000 Puerto Ricans have fled the island since Hurricane Maria, with many choosing to call central Florida home, for now or forever. Welcome centers at the airport and beyond have been helping new arrivals with housing, health care and employment. Step one is rebuilding their lives. Some are starting from scratch. But already some community organizers, politicians and others are wondering how these new arrivals will affect Florida politics.

As American citizens, Puerto Ricans can register and get involved with mainland politics pretty quickly. Will they be motivated to? How will this influx affect 2018 elections and beyond? Will these voters turn this purple-battleground state more red or more blue? To explore these questions and more, we spoke to UCF political science professor Aubrey Jewett and Esteban Garces, state director of Mi Familia Vota—a group that registers people to vote and advocates for Latino political participation.

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