People arrive to vote at the W L Stephens Aquatic Center in Charleston, South Carolina, on February 24, 2024 as the state holds its Republican primary
Despite growing Latino support ahead of the 2024 elections, the Republican National Committee has closed community centers geared towards minorities across the country.

NEW YORK CITY - Latino voters in the U.S. have been progressively shifting to a more conservative profile in the last couple of years, a variety of reports have shown. So much so that different polls from this year have former president Donald Trump leading over incumbent Joe Biden ahead of the November elections .

But despite this momentum, Republican initiatives to retain the Latino vote, especially community centers, are shutting down. The reason is unclear.

In August 2022, the Republican National Committee opened a "Hispanic community center" in the South Valley of New Mexico. The center sought to help build a relationship between the local GOP and the Hispanic community and get their support ahead of that year's elections.

The area had recently been added to New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District after a heated redistricting battle, which some Republicans said gave the Democratic Party an unfair advantage, The Albuquerque Journal reported.

About 82% of people living in the South Valley are Hispanic. And of all of New Mexico's congressional districts, the 2nd District has the greatest number of Latino voters. 2022 U.S. Census data showed that 62% of the district's population identified as Hispanic of Latino.

But the center quietly closed after Election Day 2022, when Yvette Herrell, a Republican, narrowly lost her reelection bid to current Congressman Gabe Vasquez.

Federal Elections Commission records show that the RNC paid rent to an Albuquerque property from August 2022 to December 2022. Another center was opened in Las Cruces, New Mexico in September 2022 but the last rent payment to that property was in November 2022.

The RNC did not confirm to the Albuquerque Journal why they closed.

"We are currently evaluating every aspect of political and community engagement in order to align our operations with President Trump's campaign," RNC Chairman Michael Whatley said in a statement. "We have seen very positive impacts from our community engagement centers and intend to continue to utilize them to build support for President Trump and Republican Candidates across the country."

But the New Mexico centers were not the only ones cut. After opening 20 such locations during the 2022 election cycle, only five of them remain open, two of them having opened in 2023, The Latin Times reported back in January.

Republicans closed several minority outreach centers in battleground states like California, New York and Texas, more than a year ago and did not retain their minority media outreach directors, according to The New York Times.

The most recent cuts in community centers are part of a wave of layoffs at the RNC in which over 60 party officials were let go or forced to resign and reapply for their former jobs. Allies of former President Trump have taken over with plans to merge his campaign with the party. Staff members were notified via email that their jobs would end on March 31.

Republicans have widely promoted community centers, which were established largely within the racial and ethnic communities they aimed to court. The centers often hosted political parties, dances and potlucks, and some even helped community members prepare for the U.S. citizenship test. These layoffs will affect many of the RNC's employees of color, as the workers were often members of the communities themselves, according to The New York Times.

With less outreach, it will become increasingly difficult for Republicans to turn an already fraught campaign message into actual votes this November. Outreach to minority communities, amid a tight race, could further compound these challenges.

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