Photos: Iowa’s fast-growing Latino community gets fresh attention from Democrats

For years, Latinos in Iowa overlooked as a political force in the state that kicks off the U.S. presidential race, have been getting unprecedented attention in a too-close-to-call Democratic White House nominating fight. The predominantly white state has seen the Hispanic share of its population more than double to 6.2% since 2000, making it Iowa’s biggest minority group and a crucial voting bloc that could spell the difference in state caucuses and in the November election. Hispanic activists estimate as few as 3,000 Latinos participated in Iowa's 2016 presidential caucuses, out of more than 50,000 who were registered to vote.

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST 12 Photos
1 / 12
People watch race cars drive past at the West Liberty Race Track, in West Liberty, Iowa, United States. Latinos in Iowa, overlooked as a political force for years in the state that kicks off the U.S. presidential race, have been getting unprecedented attention in a too-close-to-call Democratic White House nominating fight. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

People watch race cars drive past at the West Liberty Race Track, in West Liberty, Iowa, United States. Latinos in Iowa, overlooked as a political force for years in the state that kicks off the U.S. presidential race, have been getting unprecedented attention in a too-close-to-call Democratic White House nominating fight. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
2 / 12
Father Guillermo Trevi-o says goodbye to people after leading a Spanish spoken church service in West Liberty. The predominantly white state has seen the Hispanic share of its population more than double to 6.2% since 2000, making it Iowa’s biggest minority group and a crucial voting bloc that could spell the difference in state caucuses and in the November election. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

Father Guillermo Trevi-o says goodbye to people after leading a Spanish spoken church service in West Liberty. The predominantly white state has seen the Hispanic share of its population more than double to 6.2% since 2000, making it Iowa’s biggest minority group and a crucial voting bloc that could spell the difference in state caucuses and in the November election. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
3 / 12
Flowers left at a gravesite, stand at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in West Liberty. The population growth has spurred many Democrats seeking the nomination to face President Donald Trump in November to hire Latino or Spanish-speaking staff and tailor some campaign events to court Latinos, while activists have scrambled to register new Hispanic voters and maximize their clout. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

Flowers left at a gravesite, stand at the Oak Ridge Cemetery in West Liberty. The population growth has spurred many Democrats seeking the nomination to face President Donald Trump in November to hire Latino or Spanish-speaking staff and tailor some campaign events to court Latinos, while activists have scrambled to register new Hispanic voters and maximize their clout. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
4 / 12
People listen to the West Liberty Area Arts Council Friday Night Concert, at Ron-de-Voo Park. It has also changed the nature of life in some cities and towns in Iowa. In West Liberty, a small Hispanic-majority community with 3,700 residents, the school system has a dual-language program and some churches hold two services, one in English and one in Spanish. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

People listen to the West Liberty Area Arts Council Friday Night Concert, at Ron-de-Voo Park. It has also changed the nature of life in some cities and towns in Iowa. In West Liberty, a small Hispanic-majority community with 3,700 residents, the school system has a dual-language program and some churches hold two services, one in English and one in Spanish. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
5 / 12
Billy Danner, a farmer, moves soy beans from a grain elevator to a truck to be transported, in the town of West Liberty. “It has strengthened the town to have two cultures living and working together, with mutual respect, and it opens the door to more people moving here,” said Brenda Arthur-Miller, the high school principal in West Liberty and director of the dual language program. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

Billy Danner, a farmer, moves soy beans from a grain elevator to a truck to be transported, in the town of West Liberty. “It has strengthened the town to have two cultures living and working together, with mutual respect, and it opens the door to more people moving here,” said Brenda Arthur-Miller, the high school principal in West Liberty and director of the dual language program. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
6 / 12
Silvia Rojas and Samuel Contreras take part in a rehearsal at the Independent Pentecostal Christian Church in West Liberty. The growth in Iowa’s Hispanic population, a community largely of Mexican heritage, so far has not been matched by progress in its political power. Language barriers have hindered participation, particularly in the sometimes confusing caucuses. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

Silvia Rojas and Samuel Contreras take part in a rehearsal at the Independent Pentecostal Christian Church in West Liberty. The growth in Iowa’s Hispanic population, a community largely of Mexican heritage, so far has not been matched by progress in its political power. Language barriers have hindered participation, particularly in the sometimes confusing caucuses. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
7 / 12
A man drinks a beer during a Quinceanera celebration at Flamas Night Club in West Liberty. Hispanic activists estimate as few as 3,000 Latinos participated in Iowa’s 2016 presidential caucuses, out of more than 50,000 who were registered to vote. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

A man drinks a beer during a Quinceanera celebration at Flamas Night Club in West Liberty. Hispanic activists estimate as few as 3,000 Latinos participated in Iowa’s 2016 presidential caucuses, out of more than 50,000 who were registered to vote. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
8 / 12
A sign seen in a field, on a farm, in West Liberty. “Our long-term goal is to keep doing the same thing through the November election and beyond. We want to keep the momentum going,” said Nick Salazar, state director of LULAC and state co-chairman of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

A sign seen in a field, on a farm, in West Liberty. “Our long-term goal is to keep doing the same thing through the November election and beyond. We want to keep the momentum going,” said Nick Salazar, state director of LULAC and state co-chairman of the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
9 / 12
A woman sits on a race car trailer at the West Liberty Race Track in West Liberty. The crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders has made up for it in this campaign, however, heavily courting Latinos in the state ahead of a general election campaign likely to be influenced by Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies on immigration. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

A woman sits on a race car trailer at the West Liberty Race Track in West Liberty. The crowded field of Democratic presidential contenders has made up for it in this campaign, however, heavily courting Latinos in the state ahead of a general election campaign likely to be influenced by Trump’s divisive rhetoric and policies on immigration. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
10 / 12
A young girl is carried down steps during a Spanish spoken church service at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Liberty. “I’ll be the first to admit that we have not done as much as we need to as a party to organise and emphasize the Latino vote,” said Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, who said the party was trying to bolster its Hispanic appeal with new staff and programs. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

A young girl is carried down steps during a Spanish spoken church service at St. Joseph Catholic Church in West Liberty. “I’ll be the first to admit that we have not done as much as we need to as a party to organise and emphasize the Latino vote,” said Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, who said the party was trying to bolster its Hispanic appeal with new staff and programs. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
11 / 12
Angel Lucatero and Miguel Almanza play basketball near a cornfield in West Liberty. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

Angel Lucatero and Miguel Almanza play basketball near a cornfield in West Liberty. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
12 / 12
A lit up sign reading 'We speak Spanish' in Spanish, stands outside a dental clinic. With the Hispanic population expected to more than double again by 2050, according to the State Data Center of Iowa, Salazar said the community was trying to build a tradition of civic engagement. “When people think about rural Iowa they think of white farmers, but many of these communities will keep becoming more diverse and more Latino,” Salazar said. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

A lit up sign reading 'We speak Spanish' in Spanish, stands outside a dental clinic. With the Hispanic population expected to more than double again by 2050, according to the State Data Center of Iowa, Salazar said the community was trying to build a tradition of civic engagement. “When people think about rural Iowa they think of white farmers, but many of these communities will keep becoming more diverse and more Latino,” Salazar said. (Eric Thayer / REUTERS)

UPDATED ON FEB 03, 2020 06:11 PM IST
SHARE
Story Saved