In spite of historic gridlock on Capitol Hill and a seemingly growing partisan divide, over the past seven years, this nation has made significant progress—sometimes through legislative victories, sometimes through court decisions, and sometimes through necessary executive actions—improving the quality of life for struggling Latinos and opening opportunities for all Americans to build better futures for themselves and their families.
The Affordable Care Act has enabled four million uninsured Latinos to gain health insurance. The Latino unemployment rate currently sits at prerecession levels. Recently passed bipartisan legislation will, for the first time, hold all states accountable for how well students who are learning English perform in schools. And, in the absence of a permanent legislative fix, millions of American families and communities across the country have benefitted and could potentially benefit from deportation relief thanks to executive orders on immigration. Contrary to what some on the campaign trail may be saying, the United States remains a great country, strengthened by the diversity of our citizenry.
However, the pursuit of a future where all Americans have an equal chance to achieve greater than that of the generations who came before them persists, particularly for communities of color. From wage stagnation to housing discrimination to dangerously high levels of childhood obesity and hunger, many Latinos continue to face a number of daily obstacles that stand in their way of climbing the economic ladder and creating more safe and secure futures for their families. The Latino community must push for continued progress in all arenas and hold our lawmakers accountable for passing policy solutions that reflect the American values of equality and opportunity.
This week, NCLR published State of Hispanic America: Working Toward a More Secure Future, an analysis of key issues important to the U.S. Latino population, such as health care, education, housing, and civil rights. The publication includes potential policy solutions that will extend opportunity to more people to help ensure national prosperity and security for generations to come. As one of the largest-growing segments of the U.S. population and a community that is optimistic about this country’s bright future, Latinos throughout this country share in the vision of America as a great nation where all of our citizens should have fair and equal opportunity to achieve the American dream. However, we will need our lawmakers to work together in a bipartisan fashion to make progress on these issues.
In an election year, working together may be a tough pill to swallow and not necessarily the most politically expedient course of action. But it is the responsible course of action and it is what our lawmakers committed to do when they took office. As we head further into 2016, we hope elected officials can put aside petty partisan politics to deliver policy solutions that will improve the lives of all Americans. The job of members of Congress is not to campaign, but to serve the best interests of our country.