Hispanos compran cada vez menos, según expertos

July 20, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

DENVER –  Aunque el poder adquisitivo de los hispanos crece más rápido que el de cualquier otro grupo en el país, los consumidores hispanos gastaron este año menos que antes, generando preocupación en los grandes comercios estadounidenses, indicó hoy un ejecutivo de la cadena minorista Target.

El gerente general de Target, Brian Cornell, habló durante la conferencia BrainstormTech 2017, organizada por Fortune.com, en Aspen, Colorado, sobre la “remodelación” de Target, la tercera cadena minorista más grande del país, como una manera de recuperar clientes.

En ese contexto, el ejecutivo expresó su preocupación “por el descenso de las compras por parte de consumidores hispanos durante los últimos meses”.

En su presentación, el empresario indicó que los hispanos ahora “se quedan en sus casas y salen menos que antes, especialmente en las ciudades fronterizas de Estados Unidos”.

Como consecuencia de ese “cambio en la conducta”, agregó, las compras por parte de consumidores hispanos cayeron un 11 % en los últimos meses.

Aunque Cornell no indicó si esa cifra se refería sólo a su cadena o a los comercios en general, un reporte difundido hoy por la firma de investigaciones de mercado NPD Group indica que desde comienzos de 2017 se ha notado “un cambio en la conducta de compras” entre los hispanos, creando “desalentadores resultados” para los comerciantes.

NPD Group dio ejemplo sobre ese cambio con las ventas de zapatillas deportivas, que este año, los hispanos compraron casi un 20 % menos que el año anterior.

En 2016 las compras de esas zapatillas por consumidores hispanos habían sido cerca del 15 % más altas que en 2015.

El tema es preocupante, según el reporte de NPD Group, porque los 57 millones de hispanos en Estados Unidos representan casi la cuarta parte (23 %) de los consumidores del país y lo que sucede con las zapatillas deportivas también sucede con otros productos deportivos en general y “otros sectores”, de los cuales no se proveyeron detalles.

Por su parte, Cornell enfatizó que la transformación de la conducta de los consumidores latinos es “un cambio significante” que ha hecho que Target “busque cómo responder”.

“Todos los comerciantes tienen que tratar con la manera que los consumidores hispanos de Estados Unidos están comprando en 2017”, indicó.

Aunque Cornell no se refirió a las recientes elecciones presidenciales como uno de los factores que impulsan ese cambio, un informe de febrero de este año preparado por el Pew Research Center, ya anticipaba, basándose en encuestas, que la mayoría (54 %) de los latinos adultos “no se sentirían confiados de su lugar en Estados Unidos” bajo la nueva Administración.

MALDEF Sues State for Substandard Medi-Cal Care

July 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Civil rights advocates sued California last week, alleging that care provided by Medi-Cal, the state’s health program for low-income people, is substandard and disproportionately hurts Latinos — by far the largest group of enrollees.

The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center, says Medi-Cal participants have “substantially worse access to health care than their counterparts” in employer-based insurance plans or Medicare, the federal program for seniors and people with disabilities. State and federal laws require Medi-Cal to provide a level of care that is on par with that available to the general population, according to the court filing.

The two groups that filed the case hope to get it certified as a class-action lawsuit on behalf of all Medi-Cal enrollees.

The lawsuit plaintiffs include Rebecca Binsfeld, far right, and her husband, Carlos de Jesus, center, seen here with their kids. Binsfeld suffers from lupus and de Jesus has chronic back pain. (Kim Rescate/SEIU-UHW)

The lawsuit plaintiffs include Rebecca Binsfeld, far right, and her husband, Carlos de Jesus, center, seen here with their kids. Binsfeld suffers from lupus and de Jesus has chronic back pain. (Kim Rescate/SEIU-UHW)

The complaint claims that beneficiaries of Medi-Cal, the state’s version of the Medicaid program, often experience delays in care or are denied care altogether. And, it says, they may have to travel longer distances to find medical providers who are willing to see them.

“As a result, Medi-Cal participants suffer from greater pain, illness, and undiagnosed and untreated serious medical conditions — with significant impact to their overall health — than do their fellow Californians with other insurance,” according to the suit. The bottom line, it says, is that “California has created a separate and unequal system of health care, one for the insurance program with the largest proportion of Latinos (Medi-Cal), and one for the other principal insurance plans, whose recipients are disproportionately white.”

The Department of Health Care Services, which runs Medi-Cal and is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, said in a statement that it has “not identified any systemic problems with patient access to services in the Medi-Cal program, nor has the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services identified any issues.”

The department said it “routinely monitors access and network adequacy in the contracting Medi-Cal Managed Care Plans.” The lawsuit blames the alleged obstacles to health care access on low reimbursement rates, which it says discourages doctors from accepting Medi-Cal patients. The suit also says the state has failed to provide adequate monitoring to ensure that beneficiaries have timely access to care.

The plaintiffs do not request specific monetary damages, other than attorney fees and other legal costs. Rather, they seek systemic changes, including “adequate” pay for doctors treating Medi-Cal beneficiaries and better monitoring and enforcement to ensure patients get care when they need it.

Plaintiffs Analita Jimenez Perea and her son, Saul, speak in Los Angeles about MALDEF's lawsuit alleging that care provided by Medi-Cal is substandard and disproportionately hurts Latinos. (Kim Rescate/SEIU-UHW)

Plaintiffs Analita Jimenez Perea and her son, Saul, speak in Los Angeles about MALDEF’s lawsuit alleging that care provided by Medi-Cal is substandard and disproportionately hurts Latinos. (Kim Rescate/SEIU-UHW)

The suit follows a federal administrative complaint filed by the same groups in December 2015 with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. That case did not lead to an investigation, MALDEF said. The new lawsuit is a different approach to address the same problem, said Thomas Saenz, the group’s president and chief lawyer.

In a May 2016 letter responding to the federal complaint, California’ s Office of the Attorney General noted that current law “provides a number of remedies that provide relief if a Medi-Cal patient is denied timely access to needed care and services.” For example, they can submit a complaint to their health plan that must be resolved within 30 days, the letter said.

The attorney general’s office also said it had no evidence to show Latinos were treated differently than other Medi-Cal beneficiaries.

As of January 2017, 48 percent of California’s 13.5 million Medi-Cal beneficiaries were Latino, according to data from the Department of Health Care Services.

“This is a problem faced by all Medi-Cal patients,” Saenz said. “But it is occurring in the one insurance system where Latinos are overrepresented.”

The lawsuit names five individual plaintiffs, including a Sacramento couple — Rebecca Binsfeld, 35, and her husband, Carlos de Jesus, 43 — who said they have experienced delays in care. Binsfeld suffers from lupus and de Jesus has chronic back pain. They also have a 16-year-old daughter with scoliosis.

The family used to get primary care at UC Davis Medical Center, until their Medi-Cal managed care plan under Health Net terminated its contract with the hospital in 2015.

They sought primary care elsewhere but had difficulty finding a doctor willing to take new Medi-Cal patients, Binsfeld said. She eventually found help at a local community clinic in Sacramento, but it took 10 months for her to be seen by a rheumatologist — more than double the recommended time between such visits. And she experienced debilitating symptoms while she waited, she said.

“The first thing they tell you about lupus is that you need to avoid stress, and this was very stressful for me,” Binsfeld said. “I found myself in the ER quite a few times.”

Darin Ranahan, Binsfeld’s attorney, said the point of the lawsuit is “for the state to stop discriminating against people with Medi-Cal” and make sure that access to care is the same as for people with other types of insurance. “That means the state will need to allocate money for reimbursement rates and also remove barriers to care,” he said.

But state legislators, the medical industry and Gov. Jerry Brown wrangled over Medi-Cal rates earlier this year — and not to the entire satisfaction of doctors or patient advocates.

Last month, Brown approved a state budget that sets aside $465 million of tobacco tax money to boost Medi-Cal payments for doctors and dentists. That’s about one-third of the $1.2 billion the tax is expected to raise in its first year. Health care advocates and doctors had initially hoped that entire amount would be used to raise providers’ pay, and during the debate over the budget they argued that voters had approved the tax last November with the same idea in mind.

Tom Saenz, MALDEF president and chief lawyer, speaks at a press conference in Los Angeles on July 12, 2017. (Courtesy of SEIU-UHW)

Tom Saenz, MALDEF president and chief lawyer, speaks at a press conference in Los Angeles on July 12, 2017. (Courtesy of SEIU-UHW)

MALDEF’s Saenz said the amount ultimately allocated is “not going to make much of a dent in the problem.”

Saenz said that while boosting Medi-Cal provider rates is an essential part of improving access to care for Medi-Cal patients, it is not the entire solution. There are also systemic and administrative hurdles to overcome, he said. They include long application processing times and the challenge of ensuring that physicians and specialists have the capacity to see new patients, he said.

There is also a big question mark hanging over the whole Medi-Cal program, given efforts in Congress to cut Medicaid funding and roll back the program’s expansion under Obamacare. Saenz said that it is difficult at this point to assess how such changes would affect California’s ability to improve access and quality of care for its Medi-Cal population.

This story was produced by Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

California Ve Aumento de Población Minoritaria

June 29, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

La población de la nación esta más vieja y cada vez sigue siendo más diversa, según nuevos estimados de población publicados el jueves 22 de junio por la Oficina del Censo.

Nuevos estimados detallados muestran que la edad mediana de la nación —la edad donde la mitad de la población es más joven y la otra mitad es más vieja— aumentó de 35.3 años el 1 de abril de 2000 a 37.9 años el 1 de julio de 2016.

“La generación del baby-boom (las personas que nacieron entre 1946 y 1964 en los Estado Unidos) es mayormente la responsable de esta tendencia”, dijo Peter Borsella, un demógrafo de la División de Población. “Las personas de esa generación empezaron a cumplir 65 años en 2011 y seguirán haciéndolo por muchos años más”.

Residentes de 65 años de edad o más aumentaron de 35.0 millones en 2000 a 49.2 millones en 2016, constituyendo el 12.4 por ciento y el 15.2 por ciento de la población total respectivamente.

Estos últimos estimados presentan cambios entre sexo, raza y origen hispano en el nivel nacional, de estados y de condados entre el 1 de abril de 2010 y el 1 de julio de 2016. Los estimados también presentan cambios en el mismo período entre grupos por edad y sexo en Puerto Rico y sus municipios.

Al nivel nacional, todas las razas y grupos étnicos crecieron entre el 1 de julio de 2015 y el 1 de julio de 2016. A lo largo del lanzamiento, las referencias a grupos de razas indican personas que serían incluidas en ese grupo solo o en combinación con cualquier otro grupo racial.

En estas estadísticas, la población hispana (que incluye todas las razas) creció el 2.0 por ciento a 57.5 millones. La población blanca creció el 0.5 por ciento a 256.0 millones. La población negra o africana americana creció el 1.2 por ciento a 46.8 millones y la población asiática creció el 3.0 por ciento a 21.4 millones.

Al hablar de California, su población se compone principalmente de hispanos, blancos, asiáticos, y comunidades negras.

Entre los estados, California tuvo la mayor población total hispana (15.3 millones) en 2016 mientras Texas tuvo el mayor incremento numérico en la población hispana (233,100). Entre los condados, el condado de Los Ángeles, tuvo la población hispana más numerosa (4.9 millones) en 2016.

Al hablar de la población solamente blanca no hispana, entre todos los estados, California tuvo la mayor población desde el 1 de julio 2016 (14.8 millones). Entre los condados, el condado de Los Ángeles, tuvo la población de solamente blanca no hispana en 2016 (2.7 millones).

En cual la población asiática, California tuvo la mayor población asiática de cualquier estado (6.6 millones), y el mayor incremento numérico (152,400). Entre los condados, el condado de Los Ángeles, tuvo la mayor población asiática de cualquier condado (1.7 millones), así como el mayor incremento numérico (22,400).

Además de estas cuatro comunidades, California también vio un aumento en la población indígena americana y nativa de Alaska al igual que la población hawaiana nativa y de otros isleños del Pacifico.

El estado tuvo la mayor población de india americana y nativa de Alaska de cualquier estado en 2016 (1.1 millones) y el mayor incremento de hawaiana nativa y otros isleños del Pacifico desde el 2015.

Entre los condados, el condado de Los Ángeles, tuvo la mayor población de india americana y nativa de Alaska de cualquier condado en 2016 (233,000).

Estos estimados de población fueron los últimos para el año 2016. Las categorías fueron divididas por edad y sexo, condado y área metropolitana, y por cuidad y pueblos.

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.

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