Social Impact Correspondent Yoonj Kim of MTV News talked to People CHICA about a special investigative story titled The Race to 2020: Inside the Fight to Make Sure Colonia Residents Are Heard, airing this Sunday. "We were invited into people's homes. It was such an open environment, something you don't really see in regular neighborhoods," Kim says of life in colonias. She also discussed why it's so difficult for colonia residents in Texas to make their political voices heard through voting. "There are so many factors that make it hard for them to vote. They are so out of the way it's hard for registrars to reach those neighborhoods, to knock on those doors and find people. In some areas there are dogs everywhere, there are various barriers to access. Some people don't even know that these communities are there,"she adds.
Language can also be a barrier since many residents speak only Spanish. However, it's more crucial than ever for Latinos to vote in the 2020 election, and Texas is a decisive state. "There is this paradox that Texas is a no-swing, completely red state, but it actually has the second highest number of Latinos in the country who are eligible to vote, so I feel that there is a lot of potential there for the government to be able to step in, maybe get more volunteers to go door-to-door knocking, because that's one of the most effective ways to get people engaged in the political process. If we get can more workers out into these border towns, it could make a huge difference."
Kim left the colonias feeling inspired by the people she met. "They all left their own memory. This is one of those shoots as a journalist where you leave and you feel, 'Wow, this has impacted me on a soulful level,'" she says.
(Photo by Melanie Stetson Freeman / The Christian Science Monitor via Getty Images)
"It's important to show that these communities have vibrant families and young people who are genuinely interested in what happens in politics, and the myth that young people don't vote or that Texas is solely Republican, I saw that as completely false from my reporting, "you conclude. "If more is done to reach these voters, it could really change the direction of not just Texas, but the entire country."
You can watch the full documentary here.
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