How Will Thousands of Latinos in Iowa Be Greeted at ‘El Caucus’?

“The thing that is beautiful about being an interpreter is that you’re not going to omit, you’re not going to add, you’re not going to give advice, you’re going to literally let that person express in their own voice,” she said. “That’s what I am hoping everyone does here.”

But even more than that, Ms. Marcano-Kelly is hoping that the bilingual caucus turns into a monolingual Spanish caucus, so that there will be no need for interpretation at all.

“I’m nervous it’s going to be kind of chaotic,” she said.

Evidence of a booming Latino population can be seen in pockets all over the state, including Des Moines, where Latinos make up 12 percent of the city’s population and 26 percent of public school students. In recent years, Mexicans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans have settled here, many moving from California, Texas and Illinois.

As the temperature dipped below zero on a recent Sunday, the Mercado Iowa Market, an indoor swap meet, was packed with people drinking steaming champurrado and eating pupusas made on electric griddles. Couples sold hand-embroidered blouses and glittering cowboy boots imported from Mexico.

A Sanders campaign staff member was also present, handing out pamphlets in Spanish and answering questions for perplexed could-be caucusgoers.

Showing up to places where Latinos congregate has been a key part of the strategy for some of the campaigns and the League of United Latin American Citizens, more commonly known as LULAC, which has led the effort to register more Latinos. The group has held voter registration drives at tiendas and sponsored several mock caucus trainings in the state, with a handful more to come. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s campaign has sent a Latinx outreach director to dozens of festivals in the state over the last several months.

The Sanders campaign, in particular, has zeroed in on Latinos as a key voting bloc that it believes will prove vital to a win in Iowa. Advisers believe that increasing the number of Latinos who show up to caucus could push the campaign over the edge to gain more delegates.

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