The Latino Outlook is Positive but Improvement is Still Needed

By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR

ImmigrationRally_7_10_2013Latinos are well aware of discrimination and inequality yet we are optimistic about the future, a new poll shows. The State of the Latino Family Survey of 1,000 Latinos, ranging from new immigrants to long-time citizens and conducted by Univision, The Denver Post, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, shows that the Latino community is particularly hopeful about their economic prospects, their personal health, and the quality of public education.

What is striking about the survey is that the pollsters chose to include undocumented immigrants living in the United States, providing a fuller picture of the Latino community’s stance on a variety of issues. Nonetheless, while optimism is apparent throughout the survey, differences exist among demographic groups, highlighting the complexity of the Latino community. Some findings show that Latinos who are newer to the United States have a much more positive outlook than those who have lived in the country longer. This latter group was more prone to “express disappointment with persistent inequality and diminishing opportunities.”

The poll focused on the following areas: social progress, economics, education, health, and the Latino experience.

Social Progress

Latinos have seen progress in health care access, equal opportunity, and education. The optimism for these particular issues, however, is somewhat guarded, especially considering that those surveyed believe there is an uptick in violence and crime, affordable housing is scarce, and discrimination against Latinos and immigrants has not diminished. The difference in attitudes is most stark when generational and socioeconomic differences are considered. For example, 56 percent of fourth-generation Latinos believe that things are getting worse on the job front compared to 40 percent of new U.S. citizens.

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Economics

When asked about the economy and personal finances, an overwhelming 73 percent of respondents said they were optimistic about the future. Just 10 percent of those surveyed said they were not optimistic at all. The survey also showed that undocumented immigrants and the highest-income earners had the most positive outlook. Unfortunately, there is still progress to be made in ensuring that Latinas feel secure about the economy. A full 54 percent said they had no savings to draw from were they to fall on hard times, and just 61 percent said they could take on another job or more hours, compared to 73 percent of men who said the same.

Education

LatinoFamilySurvey_chart3Education is always one of the highest priorities for Latino parents, and respondents are confident about the instruction their children receive. According to the poll, 77 percent of Latinos with children said they believe that their schools are providing a quality education. An impressive 60 percent of Latino parents said they are actively engaged in their children’s education, whether it be attending parent-teacher conferences or volunteering at the school. Attendance at functions such as school board hearings, however, was weaker; the time commitment necessary for such events was often cited as a barrier, as were language and citizenship differences.

Health

The survey revealed that Latinos are also positive about their health outlook. In fact, 63 percent said they were in “good, very good, or excellent health.” Compare this to the 12 percent who rated their health as “poor.” Interestingly, while 75 percent said they have some kind of health insurance, 40 percent reported that they usually seek medical care outside of a doctor’s office. Twenty-five percent said they go to clinics or community health centers, while 16 percent said they go to hospitals or urgent care centers for medical attention.

The Latino Experience

Finally, on the Latino experience overall, the community is undeniably concerned about being the targets of discrimination in American society. Almost 70 percent said they are concerned about excessive force being doled out against them. Interestingly, more than 20 percent said they felt that Latinos are discriminated the most in Arizona, surely a result of the state’s notorious anti-immigrant atmosphere embodied by laws such as SB 1070.

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This is an important poll, to be sure, though we should keep in mind that while Latinos remain optimistic about their future, there is still much work to be done politically, legislatively, and programmatically to guarantee better opportunities. Harnessing the optimism of our diverse and complex community will help us break down the barriers to education and the workplace, helping more Latinos enjoy full participation in American life.

College Dreams for Undocumented Students

It’s the time of year when high school juniors and seniors start thinking about their college plans. The number of Latino students enrolling and graduating from college has been steadily increasing, but we can’t forget about the special considerations needed for those undocumented students who also have dreams of higher education. For these students, navigating the admissions process, financial aid, and scholarships can be daunting. We’re here to help.

Today, we’re hosting a webinar designed for high school leaders, college counselors, teachers, community-based organizations and mentors. We’ll cover the current challenges and opportunities for undocumented students in a variety of circumstances so that all students who want it can achieve their dreams of going to college.

Click here or on the flyer below to register!

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The Undocumented Experience Subject of New SyFy Film

An undocumented 17 year-old teenage whiz-kid is the subject of the new SyFy network movie, “Isa”.

According to the film’s director, Jose Marquez, Isa serves as a metaphor for the DREAMer experience, the role of high finance in immigration and the Mexican-American search for identity. And, this being the ScyFy network, there is a science-fiction twist included that should thrill any Sci-fi fan.

Check out the trailer below and be sure to tune in to SyFy on June 11 to watch!

La Union Hace La Fuerza at Creating Change: Wrap-up

Today, the Creating Change conference kicked off in Houston with day-long institutes on a variety of issues, including one dedicated to LGBT Latinos, La Union Hace La Fuerza. We’ve put together highlights of the 2nd annual event for you!

The Affordable Care Act and the Undocumented

It’s Friday and that means another installment of our Instagram Q&A video series on the Affordable Care Act. Today’s question comes from Kerry in California.

Question: I’m undocumented. Can I sign up and be covered?

Thanks for sending us your question, Kerry. Your answer is below:


Want us to answer your questions about the new health care law? All you have to do is fill out this mobile-friendly form. We’ll take it from there! Keep those questions coming!

Visit our YouTube channel for a more detailed response to this question.

Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of DACA and Pushing for a Permanent Solution

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A year ago, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) directive, an initiative announced by President Obama last June, to grant a two-year reprieve from deportation and work authorization to young undocumented immigrants.

NCLR Affiliates and partner organizations have done incredible work to educate our community about this initiative and to assist young people to apply for this much-needed relief from deportation.  From conducting ongoing community education sessions to providing individual assistance in completing applications to establishing innovative lending models to help young people pay the application fee, NCLR Affiliates have been critical in transforming the lives of those who have received deferred action.  Continue reading

Not Only DREAMers, but Doers

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Photo: Jobs with Justice

On May 28, 2013, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman invited the Omaha South High School boys soccer team to a lunch in honor of their recent state championship.  The team decided to use this opportunity to deliver a letter expressing their disappointment in the governor’s decision to not issue driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants who have received a temporary reprieve from deportation through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. The governor’s decision also prompted the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) to file suit against the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles.

Even though the team indicated in the letter that they were honored by the governor’s invitation, some people are still calling their move brash when they should be calling it brave.  How often do regular people get a chance to have a face-to-face meeting with their elected official to discuss important community issues? Very rarely.  Even if immigration was not part of the lunch agenda, the boys soccer team had every right to use the event to bring awareness to this issue.  In fact, one could argue that it was their responsibility to inform the governor about how his decision affected his constituents.  After all, isn’t that what democracy is all about?

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After Waiting 13 Years, My Family Reunified

By Alicia Criado, Policy Associate, Economic and Employment Policy Project, NCLR

www.violettamarkelou.comWhen I initially heard the current immigration reform bill introduced on April 17 proposed to remove or limit certain family-based immigration petitions all I could think about was my personal family story.  Without these petitions, many of my family members currently living and helping to strengthen the United States’ economy would not be here.

My family is similar to many Latinos families in that we are close-knit and this includes my extended family.  My mom was the first in her family to immigrate to the U.S. and through the family immigration system my mom sponsored her mother and eventually her sibling living in Peru.

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Why Do I Fight for Immigration Reform? To Be Reunited with My Family

By Armando Cruz Martinez, North Carolina

Note: Armando Cruz Martinez is a 19-year-old student who was born in Austin, Texas, to undocumented parents.  Since 2010, however, he has been involuntarily separated from his family.  Three years ago, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents took his father.  His mother, father, five sisters, and younger brother currently live in poverty in Mexico.  Ever since, Armando has taken up the cause fighting for immigration reform with our Affiliate, Latin American Coalition in Charlotte, NC.  This is his story.

Armando Cruz Martinez“Our separation began on March 31, 2010:  the day my father was taken by ICE agents.  It happened right after I left the house for school.  When I came home that day, I found my mother sitting in the living room crying.  She told me that my dad was gone.  I didn’t believe her because the whole idea seemed impossible to me; it felt like a bad dream.  We tried to get in touch with my dad in the Mecklenburg County jail, but after a few days, he was sent to Georgia and then deported to Mexico.  With my dad gone, my mother could not afford for our family to stay in our house, so we moved to a one-bedroom apartment.  Life felt so unstable, and I realized that this was not just a temporary situation for us.  My mother had to make a decision:  either stay in the United States alone with her kids or go back to Mexico to be with her husband.  She chose to take us to Mexico.

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