Millions of Latino children are part of our nation’s ‘forgotten Americans’

UnidosUS advocates for Hispanic community at Brookings Institution panel

Last week, Eric Rodriguez, UnidosUS Vice President of Policy and Advocacy, spoke at the Brookings Institution on a panel called “The forgotten Americans: An economic agenda for a divided nation.” The event also included a discussion with Colorado Governor John Hickenlopper and Ohio Governor John Kasich.

Eric Rodriguez, UnidosUS
Eric Rodriguez, UnidosUS Vice President of Policy and Advocacy

The discussion revolved around the release of Isabel V. Sawhill’s book The Forgotten Americans: An Economic Agenda for a Divided Nation. Sawhill, who is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution, explained that she views America as having three essential divides: economic, cultural, and political. In her book, she states that the way that we will remember these forgotten Americans is to create moderate policies that adopt ideas from both red and blue states together.

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Rodriguez said that he was pleasantly surprised by the book’s effort to create an inclusive analysis of economic policy. “We have seen many books come out about inequality and ‘forgotten Americans’ where it’s kind of in the intro, ‘yes, racism matters’, but we’re moving on,” he explained. “This did justice to explaining that this is an important part of our understanding what’s happening.”

He also added that when we think about political divides, identity is a key factor that cannot be forgotten. “I firmly believe at this stage, and what we’re seeing, that racial resentment and racial animus and identity—White identity, the country’s identity, are far more important in factoring into our politics than perhaps we give it credit,” he said.

Rodriguez then added a point that cannot be overstated. While the ‘forgotten Americans’ in Sawhill’s book are mostly members of the White working class, there are millions of Americans that have been left out of our current policy discussions. And many of them are in the Latino community.

“We have five to six million U.S. American children who have an undocumented parent in their household. That is the future of our country, and they’re living in fear,” he explained. These are millions of children whose well-being is being put at risk under our current immigration policies. If we’re going to create a truly inclusive economic policy that doesn’t forget anyone, we need to remember them too.

Watch the full discussion from the Brookings Institution below:

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