Deporting the American Dream: Immigration Enforcement Drives Foreclosures in Latino Communities

December 15, 2016 by · 1 Comment 

Newswise – ITHACA, N.Y. – Early in his presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he would deport all of the estimated 11 million immigrants who are in the United States illegally.

If the president-elect keeps his word, more deportations under his administration would mean devastating losses to legal Latino homeowners – and the communities they live in.

New research by a Cornell University demographer suggests that deportation of undocumented Latinos results in higher rates of foreclosure. That’s because a sizable share of legal Latino homeowners live with undocumented wage earners who contribute to the household income; about one-third of undocumented Latinos live in homes owned by legal Latinos. When these wage earners are deported, the household loses income and starts down the path to foreclosure.

Deporting the American Dream_12_7_sign

The reduced home ownership and the loss of wealth that comes with it illustrates how legal status and deportation contribute to racial inequality, said Matthew Hall, professor of policy analysis and management at Cornell.

“To a large degree, America’s future is going to depend on our ability to successfully integrate the young Latino population. Regardless of what happens with immigration policy, the Latino population will continue to grow,” Hall said. “Foreclosure and immigration enforcement affect these households in significantly negative ways, so there’s a question of whether we are derailing our own future by handicapping these families.”

Unlike some policy areas, Trump can change immigration enforcement policies on his first day in office and does not need congressional approval to do so.

“We don’t know exactly what the Trump administration is going to do,” Hall said. “But if we take Trump at his word we should assume that deportations are most likely going to increase – and perhaps dramatically so.

The authors found that from 2005 to 2012, Latinos were buffeted by two major forces: a record number of deportations and the housing foreclosure crisis. The increase in deportations partly stemmed from a section of 1996 immigration reforms, known as 287(g), that “deputized” local police forces with unprecedented latitude to pursue and deport immigrants living in the United States. Despite heated rhetoric about existing enforcement priorities, the number of deportations exploded during the 2000s, with nearly 3 million being deported between 2001 and 2011. At the same time, Latinos were buying homes at rapid rates just when the housing bubble started to burst.

Comparing foreclosures in Latino households in 42 counties with 287(g) enforcement to counties without it, the researchers found deportations greatly exacerbated foreclosure rates among Latinos by removing income earners from owner-occupied households. Foreclosure rates in 287(g) counties were 68 percent higher than in otherwise similar non-287(g) counties.

The dynamic helps to explain why Latino households lost their homes to foreclosure more often than any other racial group during the housing crash, Hall said.

“The collision of these forces – deportation and foreclosure – was facilitated by the rapid incorporation of Latinos during the housing boom, when risky mortgage terms were the norm,” Hall said.

The bigger implication is that the negative effects of a single deportation can create a ripple effect that could damage the surrounding community. Foreclosures often result in vacant or abandoned houses, leading to crime and civic disengagement. That in turn can reduce the value of homes in the neighborhood, leading to yet more foreclosures. And communities lose out on tax revenue from those homes.

“So much of immigration policy is unfortunately driven by emotional appeal and not by cost-benefit analysis or any kind of empirical assessment,” Hall said. “My concern is that as efforts to deport people are ramped up, we do not lose sight of how deportations not only destroy families – many of whom are U.S. citizens – but also harm communities and local economies.”

Hall’s study, “Deporting The American Dream: Immigration Enforcement and Latino Foreclosures” was published Dec. 8 in Sociological Science.

 

Democrats Making Few Gains Among Latinos, Survey Finds

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Despite Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s more than yearlong bombardment of offensive remarks against Mexican immigrants—in which he called them rapists, thieves and killers and promised mass deportations—overall views of the Republican and Democratic parties among Hispanics have not changed much since 2012, according to a survey released Oct. 11 by the Pew Research Center.

Almost half of registered Latino voters surveyed, 54%, continue to consider the Democratic Party as more concerned with their needs than the Republican Party. Only 11% of those surveyed said Republicans are more concerned, while 28% said there is no difference between the political parties.

The numbers are not much different than they were four years ago when Democrats held a similar edge, when by a 61% to 10% margin Latino voters said they viewed Democrats as more concerned about Latinos.

The lack of movement is surprising considering that 75% of registered voters surveyed said they had discussed Trump’s negative comments about Hispanics or other groups with family, friends or coworkers.

“Among Hispanic registered voters who have discussed Trump’s comments, 74% say they have given ‘quite a lot’ of thought to the presidential election and 74% say they are ‘absolutely certain’ they will vote,” according to the Pew survey.

About 6 in 10 registered Latino voters favor Clinton (58%) over Trump (19%); 10% favor Libertarian Gary Johnson and 6% favor Green Party candidate Jill Stein.

Democrats were doing better at this stage of the 2012 race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, with Obama ultimately winning 71% of the Latino vote.

Clinton is not doing as well as Obama among Latino Millennials (those ages 18 to 35 in 2016), reports Pew Research. Millennials will make up nearly half of the record 27.3 million eligible Latino voters, but at 48%, their support of Clinton lags behind older Latinos (36 and older) whose support for Clinton stands at about 66%, and 21% for Trump.

About two-thirds (64%) of Latino Millennials who back Clinton describe their support as more a vote against Trump than a vote for Clinton. By contrast, 65% of older Clinton supporters say their support is more of a vote for her than a vote against Trump.

The big question, according to the survey results, is whether Latinos will turnout to vote given that their voter turnout numbers have long trailed those of other groups.

In 2012, 77%of registered Latinos voters said they were “absolutely certain” they would vote, that number has dropped to 66% for the upcoming November election. The sharpest decline is among Latino Millennials, with 62% saying they are certain they will vote compared with 74% who said the same four years ago.

Democratic political strategies worry that the lack of passion for Clinton’s candidacy could result in Latino Millennials failing to show up at the polls, which could prove problematic in swing states where Trump supporters continue to enthusiastically support his candidacy despite a barrage of news reports detailing allegations of boorish and inappropriate behavior toward women.

 

Hambre y Pobreza Más Comun Entre Latinos en EE.UU., Según Reporte

October 13, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los latinos padecen mayores tasas de hambre, pobreza e inseguridad alimenticia que la población general de Estados Unidos, según un informe de la organización benéfica Pan para el Mundo.

Según el reporte, en 2015, el 19% de los hogares latinos tenían problemas para llevar comida a la mesa, cerca del doble que las familias anglosajonas, y el 21% vivía por debajo del umbral de la pobreza.

Y los niños latinos tienen dos veces más posibilidades que los niños de otros grupos de no tener comida suficiente, indica.

Además, el 30% de los hogares encabezados por al menos un inmigrante indocumentado y el 37% de las familias hispanas a cargo de madres solteras viven por debajo del nivel federal de pobreza.

El obispo José García, director de relaciones eclesiásticas de Pan para el Mundo, indicó este martes al presentar el informe que “aunque la situación ha mejorado, sigue siendo difícil para las familias latinas acceder a los recursos necesarios”.

El reporte de Pan Para el Mundo afirma que el hambre y la pobreza entre los latinos son el resultado directo de “prejuicios raciales de género y de discriminación por el estatus inmigratorio”.

Según García, “la discriminación sigue siendo el principal obstáculo que enfrentan muchas familias latinas”.

En opinión de Kathy Underhill, directora ejecutiva de la organización no lucrativa Colorado Sin Hambre, numerosas familias latinas enfrentan situaciones de hambre, inseguridad alimenticia o pobreza por falta de suficiente “capital social”.

“No es posible hablar sobre la formación de líderes comunitarios o la transformación de las políticas públicas discriminatorias con alguien que tiene hambre. Primero debemos alimentar y estabilizar a esa persona y a su familia”, dijo hoy a EFE Underhill.

Por razones culturales y de idioma, muchos inmigrantes hispanos solamente conocen e interactúan con otros inmigrantes hispanos quienes, por lo general, se encuentran en la misma situación que ellos enfrentan y, por lo tanto, su capacidad de ayuda es limitada, a pesar de la buena voluntad que tengan para ayudar, indicó.

Ese “capital social” limitado, es decir, la carencia de una diversa red de contactos que permita una cooperación recíproca y de beneficio mutuo, agrava los problemas de las familias hispanas, opinó.

Para Underhill, una de las maneras de revertir esa situación es solidificar el capital social de los necesitados al conectarlo con el capital social propio.

“Y todo comienza con una conversación café por medio”, sugirió.

Latinos at the Ballot Box

October 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

When Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump kicked off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and drug dealers, Latinos were propelled into the forefront of political rhetoric that sought to marginalize their importance and value to the country or on the flip side motivated multiple campaigns to get the Latinos to the ballot box.

Click here to read Part 1 of Latino Factor: Changing the Face of Politics

The power of the Latino vote in recent years has been touted as a possible game changer in national elections, with both Democrats and Republicans citing the importance of their vote in Barack Obama’s winning of the presidency 8 years ago.

Efforts to get Latino permanent residents to become citizens so they can vote in November were significantly ramped up, as were the campaigns to get eligible, but unregistered voters signed up.

On Monday, a handful of registered voters showed up to a Voting Basics workshop in Commerce to become more informed before heading to vote Nov. 8. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

On Monday, a handful of registered voters showed up to a Voting Basics workshop in Commerce to become more informed before heading to vote Nov. 8. (EGP photo by Nancy Martinez)

Of the 27 million Latinos eligible to vote, more than 13 million are expected to head to the polls this November, according to the Pew Research Center.

For this two-part series, EGP spoke to a number of Latino elected officials from California about the history, power and influence of Latinos in the political arena. They described the struggles and discrimination faced by Latinos both in the past and the present. While they acknowledge there has been progress – such as the number of “political firsts” that includes Latinos leading both of California’s legislative bodies, more Latinos now serving on powerful congressional committees, in the president’s cabinet and in other leadership roles – all agreed there is still a long way to go to solidify Latino political strength.

They also discussed the evolution of what it means to be a Latino candidate, or worthy of Latino support.

In California, the U.S. Senate race between U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez and State Attorney General Kamala Harris in many ways highlights those changes.

The election has potential for its own “first.” If elected, Sanchez would be the first Latina to ever serve as a U.S. Senator: Harris would be California’s first African-American woman and first Asian-American woman in the U.S. Senate.

Part two of this series takes a closer look at what’s at stake for Latinos on Election Day and what it means for a Latinos to run for office.

 

The Latino Voice

The polarizing Presidential Election that polls still show is to close to call, has driven dozens of nonprofit and civil rights groups to launch outreach campaigns to register eligible Latino voters and encourage them to head to the polls next month.

According to a Pew Research Center report, Latinos are about 15 percent or more of the electorate in Florida, Nevada and Colorado, all key battleground states. In November, Latinos are projected to make up a record 27 million or 11.9 percent of all eligible U.S. voters, according to the report.

While the numbers are growing, the voter turnout among Latinos has not been as impressive. Despite a record 11.2 million Latinos casting their vote in 2012, it represented less than half of all the Latinos eligible to vote.

“Yes, Latinos can determine the election, we have the numbers,” acknowledged U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard. “My fear is [they] don’t show up to the ballot box.”

In contrast, African-Americans and White voters are more likely to turnout. In 2012, 64 percent of White and 66.6 percent of African-Americans eligible voters cast votes.

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is partnering with colleges and universities and other organizations across the state to encourage voter registration. He says the importance of voting is often instilled when parents take their children to the polls, an experience unfamiliar to many Latino immigrants.

“My parents never took me to vote, it wasn’t our experience,” he told EGP. “Far too many families don’t have that tradition.”

Because nearly half of eligible Latino voters are between the ages of 18 and 35, a group already on its own less likely to vote, special attention has been focused on targeting Latino millennials. The nonprofit Voto Latino aims to empower Latino millennials through civic engagement and reports it has registered over 101,000 Latinos. The next battle will be to get them out on election day.

“This election is very important” to Latinos, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis told EGP. Especially “when you hear Donald Trump say these things,” says the daughter of immigrants, referring to his comments disparaging women, immigrants, specifically Mexicans.

The former labor secretary has been campaigning for Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, calling her a “good alternative for our community.”

“I believe she has a good record representing our community and I believe she will appoint Latinos to her cabinet,” Solis said.

Roybal-Allard tells EGP she often hears Latinos say “para que” (what’s the point) when it comes to voting, but hopes this election they consider the consequences.

“If they stay at home that’s like voting for Trump,” she said.

According to the Pew Research Center, a major factor in who voters support is their dislike for a candidate’s opponent.

Sanchez told EGP no matter whom they vote for, Latinos need to care about being represented at the polls.

“When our community doesn’t vote we give away our vote to the people who are voting,” she said.

 

Being Latino Is Important, But Not Everything

As EGP reported in part one of this series, in years past when there were few Latinos in elected office, being Latino was often the most important qualification for getting the Latino vote. The belief was that a Latino candidate would have a more comprehensive grasp and sensitivity to the issues and positions important to Latinos.

It was once unheard of for a Latino politician to endorse a non-Latino over a Latino in the same party, but the race between Sanchez and Harris is an example of how things have changed as more Latinos are elected to office.

For most, the fact that Sanchez is Latina is a factor, but by no means the biggest reason behind their endorsement.

“She’s a hard worker, dedicated and knowledgeable,” says Roybal-Allard, who has worked with Sanchez for nearly two decades. “I have seen first hand her commitment not just to Latinos but to our country.”

Roybal-Allard tells EGP she also endorsed Sanchez to ensure someone on the Senate would be sensitive to the needs of Southern California.

“The fact that she’s Latina is the cherry on top.”

Sanchez herself admits sometimes you don’t always want the Latino.

“Look at the presidential race, I was not going to vote for Ted Cruz.”

Instead, Sanchez asks that voters look at her resume, noting that during her 20 years in Congress she has served on the Committee on Armed Services and Committee on Homeland Security. She voted against the War in Iraq and supports immigration reform, and has been a supporter of small business.

“I know the issues, my opponent doesn’t have the experience” to get to work right away, says Sanchez, who has earned the endorsement of many of her colleagues in the House. “If we have a qualified Latina candidate and don’t choose the Latina then when the heck are we going to get one?”

The growing number of Latinos in office is what has perhaps made the shift in perspective possible.

“You want to have quality, good leadership,” points out Solis, who endorses Harris. She said Harris is on the right side of issues important to California Latinos. “I know some non-Latinos who fight for our rights.”

“We’ve evolved beyond looking at the color of our skin and instead focus on what a person brings,” she adds.

Other prominent Latino leaders including Sen. Pro Tem Kevin De Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon joined Solis in endorsing Harris, despite many expecting them to back the Latina with congressional experience.

Roybal-Allard told EGP this came as a surprise to her.

“It could be a lack of understanding to what it takes to be a member of congress,” she said. “There are different set of rules and Loretta [Sanchez] is someone that would hit the ground running,” the congresswoman said, noting the importance placed on seniority and established replacements.

Sanchez told EGP she thinks those who didn’t endorse her despite her qualifications were likely influenced by Northern politics in Sacramento.

It’s not about being Latina per se,” says Sanchez. “In this case I’m the qualified one with the experience.”

Endorsements in the race also show immigration is not the only issue important to Latinos.

Hector Barreto, president of the Hispanic Business Roundtable Institute, told EGP the group endorsed Sanchez because they have worked with the congresswoman for decades.

“Loretta [Sanchez] has always been passionate about helping small businesses,” he said. “It was a very easy decision,” he added.

The group tends to lean center right endorsing conservative candidates like Sen. John McCain and Sen. Marco Rubio this election.

Barreto said the group is concerned Harris will double down on efforts that hurt already struggling Latino-owned businesses by supporting more taxes and raising health care costs. There are 4 million Latino-owned businesses across the country, generating $700 billion in revenue each year, according to the Hispanic Business Roundtable Institute.

Sanchez on the other hand has been a champion in congress by fighting to get more federal contracts for small businesses and helping them have access to capital, said Barreto.

“If we can support a Hispanic candidate we will, but we don’t support a candidate [just because] they’re Hispanic.”

For those unsure of whom to vote for, Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia hopes they ultimately mark the box next to Sanchez’ name.

“We did our research, our part to get this member on the ballot, she’s the qualified one,” Garcia said.

Congressman Xavier Becerra told EGP he chose not to endorse in the race and is instead concentrating on supporting Latinos running for seats in the House of Representatives. He told EGP he is happy to see there isn’t an absence of Latino candidates, and points out that in some races there is more than one Latino on the ballot.

“No doubt, when I hear a Latino is running I take an interest,” he said.

Solis predicts Latinos will have another bite at the apple when U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein retires.

Some political observers have speculated that deals were made early that a Latino would get Democrats support when Feinstein leaves office.

Meanwhile, Padilla told EGP he’s not endorsing in the race but says the U.S. Senate race is a reflection of the diversity of the state.

“Whether it’s the U.S. Senate this year or California Governor next year, I’m pretty sure there won’t be any state election without a strong viable Latino running for office.”

 

Latinos, Más Afectados Por Contaminación de Gasolina, Dice Informe

October 6, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

La población latina sufre cerca de 152.000 ataques de asma y pierde alrededor de 112.000 días escolares al año debido a la contaminación causada por la producción de gasolina y gas, reveló un informe presentado el 28 de septiembre.

El reporte “Comunidades latinas en riesgo: El impacto de la polución del aire por la industria de petróleo y gas”, destaca que estas industrias depositan “9 millones de toneladas de metano y contaminantes tóxicos como el benceno, cada año en el aire”.

“Con millones de latinos enfrentando serias amenazas de salud como consecuencia de vivir cerca de contaminantes medioambientales, es importante tomar acción para mejorar su salud”, anotó Brent Wilkes, director ejecutivo nacional de la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC).

Según el análisis elaborado por Lesley Fleischman de Clean Air Task Force (CATF), Declan Kingland y Christopher Maxwell de LULAC y Elena Ríos de la Asociación Nacional Médica Hispana (NHMA), las comunidades latinas más pobres son las más afectadas por residir cerca de fuentes de contaminación.

“Más de 1,81 millones de latinos viven a media milla (o menos) de instalaciones donde se produce petróleo o gas y el número sigue creciendo cada año”, asegura el informe.

Estos latinos enfrentan un elevado riesgo de cáncer “debido a las emisiones tóxicas de la producción de petróleo y gas”, y cerca de 1.78 millones de latinos viven en condados donde el riesgo de cáncer por estas emisiones “está por encima del nivel de preocupación de la Agencia de Protección Ambiental (EPA)”.

El análisis explica que en la temporada de verano la contaminación por ozono del aire aumenta debido a la producción de estos combustibles, y la población hispana infantil es la más afectada por el asma.

Adicionalmente, el estudio señala que debido a la pobreza y a la falta de seguros médicos, los efectos negativos en la salud aumentan.

El índice de pobreza entre los latinos es de 25% comparado con el 10% de los no latinos, mientras que la falta de seguros de salud para personas menores de 65 años es de 27% entre los hispanos en comparación con el 10% entre los no hispanos.

El estudio destaca que en estados con alta producción de gas y combustibles derivados del petróleo, la población latina constituye un importante porcentaje de quienes residen cerca de las plantas y refinerías.

En California, los hispanos que residen dentro de un radio de media milla de una planta de proceso constituyen el 41% del total de quienes viven en esa cercanía.

Mientras que en Texas los hispanos conforman el 36% de quienes viven a menos de una milla de estas instalaciones, en Nuevo México el 32% y en Colorado el 28%.

Latino Factor: Changing the Face of Politics

September 29, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Much is being made these days of the potential power of the Latino vote, both here in California and on the national stage.

Political strategists point to the role Latinos played 8 years ago in tipping the presidential race in Barack Obama’s favor, and continue to say that if Latinos register and show up to vote they could again have sway in the 2016 Presidential Election pitting GOP candidate Donald Trump against Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Click here to read Part 2 of Latino Factor: Changing the Face of Politics

At more than 57 million strong, or nearly 18% of the total U.S. population, and with the largest growth in recent years taking place in areas that according to the Pew Research Center previously had very few Latinos, like North Dakota, there’s good reason to see political opportunity.

But it wasn’t too long ago that the influence of Latinos was more dream than reality. Latino elected officials were rare and for many Latino political and civil rights activists the most important credentials for a candidate was that they have a Spanish surname and be a Democrat, and you always supported the Latino in the race. And for more than a decade, immigration has been the top issue in nearly every campaign to reach Latinos.

For this two-part story on the influence of Latinos in politics today, EGP reached out to a number of Latino elected officials from California to get their views. What we repeatedly heard is that there has been progress, but there’s still a long way to go. We also heard that immigration will continue to be an important issue to Latinos, but these days “every issue is a Latino issue.” And while being Latino is important, in the political arena it alone may no longer be cause for endorsement.

 

To Understand the Present, You Have to Know the Past

Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard, the first Mexican-American woman elected to Congress, is excited to see the new batch of Hispanic leaders on both sides of the aisle in Congress.

She just hopes these new lawmakers understand the discrimination their predecessors faced, the struggles to get Latinos elected in the first place, and the significance of having one of their own sitting at the table where the country’s most important decisions and policies are made.

“We must not forget the past, we must not take for granted the struggles of those before us and revisit our history,” she told EGP. “Don’t forget there were once signs that read ‘no dogs, no Negros, no Mexicans.”

Roybal-Allard witnessed first hand the discrimination against Latinos brave enough to run for office, and determined to pave the way for future leaders despite their poor treatment. Her father, Edward R. Roybal, the first Latino elected to the Los Angeles City Council and one of the first Latinos to represent California in Congress, was one of them.

U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, with her late father Rep. Roybal R. Roybal during a committee hearing. (Courtesy of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard)

U.S. Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard, with her late father Rep. Edward R. Roybal during a committee hearing. (Courtesy of Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard)

Getting elected at a time when many people would just vote against a candidate because they were Hispanic was difficult, and it took a strong grassroots effort in the Latino community and help from labor unions to win Roybal a seat on the LA City Council. Even then, he was not treated as an equal because of his Mexican heritage. The discrimination continued when he was elected to the Congress, and invitations were not extended his way.

“We would go to places and people would spit on us and tell us to go back where we came from,” she recalled, noting that his position was no guarantee they would be treated with respect.

But he persevered and during his 30 years in Congress, Roybal co-founded and chaired the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and chaired a powerful Appropriations subcommittee, and always advocated for Latinos.

Roybal-Allard had her own encounters with discrimination as an elected official. She told EGP that during the early 1990s she and the other Latinas in Congress were routinely stopped at the door of the House of Representatives, the assumption being they could not possibly be members of Congress.

“Many of my colleagues didn’t know what it meant to be Hispanic,” Roybal-Allard said, pointing out that African-Americans were the only minority some of her Congressional colleagues had ever met.

“Absolutely we have made some progress, but we still have a long way to go,” she added.

As a female, minority and often the youngest person in the room, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis says she faced similar obstacles on her way to the White House.

Her high school counselor advised her to skip college and to go work as a secretary, ironically, years later she would became the first Latina to serve as Secretary of Labor, appointed by President Barack Obama. In another first, Solis was the first Latina elected to the California Senate.

“People underestimate you,” she told EGP, referring to those who doubted her capabilities. “I was fortunate, to always resist that.”

Congressman Xavier Becerra is the first Latino to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is today the highest-ranking Latino in Congress. He told EGP there were only a handful of Latinos in Congress when he was first elected in 1992. Latino leaders used to feel like outsiders, he recalled. “To have a Latino in a high office was a very proud moment.”

California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, the first Latino and youngest person elected president of the Los Angeles City Council, told EGP that the rhetoric in this year’s presidential campaign reminds him of the political climate that existed in 1994 when Proposition 187 – which proposed to prohibit undocumented immigrants from receiving public benefits ¬– was on the ballot.

It was then, years before he ran for office, that he says he realized it wasn’t easy for Latinos in government.

Although both sides of the aisle are now courting Latinos, for too long Latinos were often on the outside, says Becerra.

“A lot of us worked within the system with the perspective of being outsiders,” he said. “It’s changing and now we are seeing what it feels like to be included.”

 

Wider Influence Today

Republican and Democratic political pundits and strategist across the country have repeatedly said that winning the 2016 Presidential Election will require winning a majority of Latino votes.

Yet one need only look at the number of “political firsts” in recent years – Sonia Sotomayor’s becoming the first Latina on the U.S. Supreme Court, Antonio Villaraigosa’s election as Los Angeles’ first Latino mayor in over a hundred years, and for the first time in modern history, Latinos now hold the top two leadership roles in the California Legislature – to understand the relative newness of Latino political influence at the ballot box.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis pictured with President Barrack Obama and other White House officials during her time as Secretary of Labor. Solis was the first Latina to serve on a President’s Cabinet. (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis )

Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis pictured with President Barrack Obama and other White House officials during her time as Secretary of Labor. Solis was the first Latina to serve on a President’s Cabinet. (Courtesy of Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis )

All the Latino leaders we interviewed, however, said you have to celebrate these milestones, not just look at the deficits.

As an example, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro, Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez and Congressman Becerra were all touted as possible running mates for Hillary Clinton.

More Latinos now serve on the most powerful congressional committees that decide which bills move forward and get funding, and in the case of Roybal-Allard, the ranking member on the House Homeland Security Appropriations Committee, how we will pay for our national security.

Only 37 of the 535 members of Congress are Latino, but according to Roybal-Allard, many of them are better prepared for the rigors of the office then their predecessors.

“The more Latinos get elected the more input and influence we have on policy,” she stresses, adding that the hope is more Latinos will be elected in November.

In California, where about 15 million Latinos call home and make up 39 percent of the population, many leaders still see Latinos as “underrepresented.” Of the 120 members in the Assembly and Senate, only 22 are Latino. However, the leaders of both bodies are Latino: Senate Pro Tem Kevin de Leon and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon.

But the small number does make it harder for “for us to be a voice for Latinos,” says Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, who represents a number of Latino majority cities in southeastern Los Angeles County, including Bell Garden and Commerce. “We need to be at the table,” she said, explaining her desire to see more Latinos and Latinas elected to office.

“It’s helpful to our community when we have people that have personal experience with the needs of our areas,” agrees Roybal-Allard.

Which leads back to the belief that every issue is a Latino issue.

“Latinos are not just interested in immigration,” emphasizes Roybal-Allard. “Latinos care about all issues.”

There is no difference between what a Latino wants and what their non-Latino counterparts demand from the government, says Becerra.

“They want a good job, good education and a safe place to live,” he told EGP.

Roybal-Allard believes that in some states where the Latino population is growing, fear and misunderstanding are contributing to the mistaken belief that Latinos will only fight for their interests, and somehow those interests are different.

Solis acknowledges she acts as voice and advocate for the Latino community in Los Angeles County. She points out, however, that the issues and policies she has fought for, including increasing the minimum wage, enforcement of wage theft laws and for environmental justice, do not only help Latinos, but everyone.

“Every issue is a Latino issue,” says Rep. Loretta Sanchez. “I don’t think our agenda is any different or should be defined by immigration.”

 

 

In part 2 of this two-part series, EGP will delve deeper into the November election and the potential of the Latino vote.

Leyes a Favor de Latinos Se Aprueban en California

September 8, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

El ciclo legislativo en California termino el 31 de agosto tras una semana de votaciones con un saldo de leyes favorables a trabajadores e inmigrantes, en una nueva muestra de que el Estado Dorado sigue a la vanguardia en medidas que benefician a la comunidad hispana.

Probablemente las dos leyes que mayor activismo generaron entre los hispanos fueron la propuesta para extender los beneficios laborales a los trabajadores de servicios de cuidado de personas en el hogar y la que modificó el pago de horas extras a los trabajadores del campo.

La presión de los campesinos logró que se aprobase la ley AB1066, que ordena el pago de horas extras luego de ocho horas de trabajo en un día en lugar de las 10 que se aplican actualmente.

El presidente interino del Senado de California, Kevin de León, dijo a EFE que la aprobación de esta ley es una “gran victoria” para aquellos que trabajan en “condiciones miserables” y que sirve además para mandar un “mensaje” a los rancheros de que los campesinos “merecen dignidad y respeto”.

Otra de las medidas que movilizaron a grupos de activistas y trabajadores fue la Carta de Derechos de los Trabajadores Domésticos (SB1015), que establece de forma permanente el pago de las horas extras para estas personas.

Una ley que comenzó a regir en 2014 y que ordenó el pago de horas a estos trabajadores cuando laboran más de 9 horas al día o 45 horas en la semana expira este año, mientras la nueva ley lo establece en forma permanente.

En otra medida que destaca el liderazgo de California, la SB1289 del senador Ricardo Lara, prohíbe que las ciudades y los condados contraten la operación de centros de detención de inmigrantes con empresas privadas con fines lucrativos.

En declaraciones a EFE el político hispano destacó que “los inmigrantes importan y no merecen estar enjaulados como animales para la ganancia de las corporaciones”.

Sin embargo, no todo ha sido color de rosa con respecto a medidas aprobadas por los legisladores de California que favorecen a los hispanos.

Así, la ley que ordena el pago de horas extras a los trabajadores agrarios ha encontrado una fuerte reacción en contra de los agricultores e incluso de algunos funcionarios estatales.

“Los trabajadores agrícolas pueden ganar hasta el 50% más en una semana que los empleados no agrícolas, debido a que pueden trabajar hasta 60 horas a la semana”, argumentó Jeff Merwin presidente de la Oficina Agraria del Condado de Yolo.

Otra medida que vio la luz verde en el Capitolio de Sacramento defiende a las aseadoras del acoso sexual y las violaciones durante la soledad que acompaña sus turnos de trabajo en la noche.

La AB1978, de la asambleísta demócrata del Distrito 80 Lorena González, aumenta la autoridad del Departamento de Relaciones industriales de California para prevenir los asaltos.

Otra norma que ha desatado polémica fue la SB1139, también de Lara y que busca facilitar el ingreso y ayuda financiera para programas de formación médica “a cualquier estudiante, incluida una persona sin un estatus legal de inmigración”.

Jo Wideman, directora ejecutiva de Californianos por la Estabilización de la Población (CAPS, en inglés), criticó esta propuesta por “empujar al Senado estatal de California a financiar, aún más, becas y programas de perdón de préstamos para aquellos que están aquí ilegalmente”.

No obstante, la medida que autoriza el ingreso de estudiantes indocumentados a universidades públicas en carreras de salud fue aprobada este martes por el Senado y sigue su curso hacia el escritorio del gobernador, Jerry Brown.

“Los profesionales de la salud indocumentados merecen competir en programas estatales para ayudar a mitigar el costo de su entrenamiento”, destacó Lara al darse la aprobación de la ley.

También fue aprobada la SB10, que autoriza al estado a solicitar un permiso a las autoridades federales para que los inmigrantes indocumentados puedan comprar seguros de salud en el mercado de Covered California.

Otra medidas -entre muchas- que salieron triunfantes fueron la SB1216, del senador Ben Hueso, que busca crear un incentivo fiscal para los empleadores que contraten jóvenes en alto riesgo de delincuencia, y la AB 2016, que propone la implementación de estudios étnicos en el currículo de grados 7 a 12, del asambleísta Luis Alejo.

Ahora todos los ojos miran hacia el despacho del gobernador, quien, con su firma, puede validar las aprobaciones legislativas, o con su veto, podrá mandar al archivo las leyes aprobadas.

Latinos Representan Casi Mitad de Personas Sin Cobertura Médica

August 25, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Pese a que el número de personas sin seguro médico ha caído a mínimos históricos en los últimos años, el porcentaje de latinos sin asegurar sigue aumentando en relación a los otros grupos raciales, según un nuevo estudio.

El total de personas sin seguro médico en el país ha caído en unos 20 millones desde que entró en vigor en 2010 la reforma sanitaria del presidente Barack Obama, pero aún 24 millones de ciudadanos están desprotegidos, revela esta investigación de la Commonwealth Fund, fundación privada dedicada a promover un mejor sistema de salud.

Desde las ampliaciones en la cobertura de la ley que entraron en efecto en 2014, ha habido notables cambios en la composición demográfica de las personas sin seguro.

Los latinos han pasado a representar un porcentaje creciente de las personas sin seguro, con un aumento del 29% en 2013 al 40% en 2016.

En todos los grupos demográficos en alto riesgo de no tener seguro médico analizados en este estudio, los latinos representan casi la mitad de los no asegurados.

Así los latinos representan el 47% de los adultos sin seguro con mayores niveles de pobreza, el 47% de los adultos jóvenes sin cobertura y el 46% de los trabajadores de pequeños negocios sin prestación sanitaria.

El número de blancos sin seguro cae, por el contrario, pasando de representar la mitad de las personas sin cobertura sanitaria al 4% en 2016.

El estudio revela que las personas sin seguro médico son muy pobres: un 39% de quienes no tienen cobertura reciben salarios que están por debajo del nivel de pobreza federal.

Los adultos sin seguro que están al tanto de los mercados de seguro o que en algún momento han intentado buscar cobertura médica señalan en su mayoría que el motivo por el que no la adquirieron fue económico.

A pesar del aumento de la cobertura sanitaria con la reforma del presidente Barack Obama, todos los grupos que ya eran los que estaban más en riesgo de no tener seguro antes de ley continúan teniendo los porcentajes más altos de personas sin cobertura médica.

De este modo, en comparación con la población general en edad de trabajar, los adultos sin seguro son desproporcionadamente pobres, jóvenes, latinos y empleados de pequeños negocios.

La Ley de Protección al Paciente y Cuidado de Salud Asequible, considerado el mayor logro en política nacional del Gobierno Obama, impide que las personas en situación irregular accedan al mercado de seguros médicos o a “Medicaid”, el programa de seguros de salud del Gobierno para las personas de bajos recursos.

“Este es probablemente un factor significativo que explica el gran número de latinos que siguen sin tener seguro médico, aunque con nuestra investigación no sabemos qué porcentaje de los latinos sin cobertura médica son indocumentados”, apunta el estudio.

La Oficina del Censo estima que casi la mitad (el 46%) de los latinos que no tenían cobertura sanitaria en 2014 no eran ciudadanos estadounidenses.

Otras estimaciones, señala el estudio, indican que las personas en situación irregular representan el 15% del total que aún no tiene cobertura médica.

Envejecimiento Más Lento Para Latinos Según Estudios

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

Los latinos envejecen más lentamente pese a tener índices más altos de diabetes y otras enfermedades que grupos como los caucásicos, según un nuevo estudio de la Universidad de California en Los Ángeles (UCLA).

Los científicos lo llaman “la paradoja latina:, explica Steve Horvath, el autor principal de esta investigación publicada hoy en la revista “Genome Biology”.

El estudio demuestra que los latinos envejecen más lentamente a nivel molecular y que ritmo más lento de envejecimiento les ayuda a neutralizar sus riesgos de salud mayores, sobre todo los relacionados con la obesidad y la inflamación.

De este modo, la investigación sugiere que los factores genéticos y ambientales ligados a la etnia pueden influir en la rapidez con la que una persona envejece y, por tanto, en su esperanza de vida.

Según los Centros de Control y Prevención de Enfermedades (CDC), los hispanos del país viven una media de tres años más que los caucásicos, con esperanzas de vida de 82 años frente a 79 respectivamente.

A cualquier edad, un adulto latino saludable tiene un riesgo un 30 por ciento menor de morir que uno de otro grupo, según un estudio publicado en 2013 por la revista “American Journal of Public Health”.

Para el nuevo estudio de la UCLA, el equipo usó varios biomarcadores, entre ellos un “reloj epigenético” creado por Horvath en 2013 para identificar los cambios epigenéticos ligados al envejecimiento en el genoma.

La epigenética estudia cómo los factores dentro y fuera del cuerpo modifican la función genética sin cambiar la secuencia de los nucleótidos que constituyen el ADN de una persona.

Horvath y su equipo analizaron 18 series de datos de muestras de ADN de casi 6.000 personas de siete diferentes etnias: dos grupos africanos, afroamericanos, caucásicos, asiáticos del este, latinos y los indígenas chimane de Bolivia.

Al analizar las pruebas sanguíneas, los científicos descubrieron que la sangre de los latinos y los chimanes envejece más lentamente que la de otros grupos.

Los chimanes envejecen incluso más lentamente que los latinos: el reloj biológico del estudio determinó que la edad de su sangre es dos años más joven que la de los latinos y cuatro más joven que la de los caucásicos.

Este descubrimiento es coherente con que el hecho de que el grupo no presentó las mínimas señales de enfermedades del corazón, diabetes, hipertensión, obesidad o arterias obstruidas.

“A pesar de las frecuentes infecciones, los chimanes tienen muy poca incidencia de las enfermedades crónicas que afectan ampliamente a la sociedad moderna”, indica el coautor del estudio Michael Gurven, profesor de antropología en la Universidad de California en Santa Bárbara.

Por otro lado, el reloj biológico midió la edad de las mujeres latinas como 2,4 años menor que la de las no latinas de la misma edad después de la menopausia.

Los investigadores también determinaron que la sangre y el tejido cerebral de los hombres envejece más rápido que el de las mujeres del mismo grupo étnico.

Ese dato podría explicar por qué las mujeres tienen mayor esperanza de vida que los hombres.

Tras este estudio, el investigador Horvath, profesor de genética humana y bioestadística, planea ahora investigar con su equipo el ritmo de envejecimiento de otros tejidos humanos e identificar el mecanismo molecular que protege a los latinos del envejecimiento.

Many U.S. Black and Hispanic Children Lack Mental Health Care

August 18, 2016 by · Leave a Comment 

New America Media – Black and Hispanic children and young adults with mental health issues are about half as likely as their white counterparts to get mental health care, according to a study out last week.

That could play a part in why children from those communities end up getting expelled from school or are incarcerated at higher rates than their white or Asian peers, say authors of the study.

The national study, titled, “Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Mental Health Care for Children and Young Adults,” appeared in the International Journal of Health Services. It examined data on children under 18, and young adults 18 to 34 from the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey from 2006 to 2012.

The research was led by Dr. Lyndonna Marrast, who is currently an assistant professor of medicine at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine in New York.

The study finds that minorities receive a lot less psychiatric care – which includes visits to psychiatrists, social workers and psychologists – despite consistent rates of mental illness across all racial and ethnic groups. One in five Americans is believed to have a mental health condition at any given time. Black and Latino youth also receive less substance abuse and mental health counseling.

Mental health care advocates say two obvious reasons for this are a lack of health insurance and the stigma associated with seeking mental health care.

Despite a drop in the number of uninsured blacks and Latinos after the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the two groups still have the highest rates of uninsured, at 14.7 percent and 33.1 percent, respectively.

But Marrast notes that the data she and her team analyzed do not “point to a particular cause” as being the key determinant of why this is so.

“It’s multifactorial,” she says. “We can hypothesize that having insurance alone is not sufficient if there are insufficient healthcare providers in your community who accept your insurance.”

Mistrust of health care providers could be another reason why blacks and Hispanics are reluctant to seek mental health care, Marrast says.

And a third factor could be that not all providers have the cultural competence to treat blacks and Hispanics.

In the study, researchers point out that incarcerated young male blacks and Hispanics — overrepresented in the criminal justice system — are “underrepresented in the receipt of mental health care.” The study cites a Department of Justice finding that at least half of those incarcerated suffer from mental illness, and that those illnesses went largely untreated prior to and after their arrest.

Since 2014, mental health care is guaranteed in insurance plans sold under the ACA, under the so-called “10 essential benefits.” But Marrast says that that is unlikely to have “a big impact on access to mental health services, particularly because we saw large racial differences in mental health care even after we controlled for insurance.”

Bleak as the situation appears, measures can be taken to correct the disparities in mental health care visits.

Steffie Woolhandler, a professor at City University of New York School of Public Health and onof the study’s authors, told Kaiser Health News that increased funding for community health centers is one such measure.

“I see these great people trying to work in community mental health, but they need more resources to do their job,” she said.

Marrast says Washington should “equalize financial access to services via universal health care.”

Other ways she believes the problem can be addressed include:

— Expand training opportunities to increase the number of minority mental health professionals.

— Improve training for mental health professionals of all ethnicities so they can better recognize and treat mental health problems in minorities.

— Adopt a less punitive attitude toward youthful misbehaviors, thereby decreasing school expulsions and arrests.

“Punishing people for mental illness or addiction is both inhumane and ineffective,” says Woolhandler. “The lack of care for minority youth is the real crime.”

 

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