By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS
This past week, the Democratic Party formally nominated former Vice President Joe Biden as their candidate for president of the United States. Next week, the Republican Party will nominate their candidate for the office. As we head into the general election season, the Latino community—60 million strong in the United States—will be watching to see how our elected officials plan to address the crises that have intensified in our country since mid-March, and what plans they have for a more just future for all.
On the first night of the Democratic National Convention, speakers discussed the impact of inequality on our country and its effect on the coronavirus pandemic.
WE MUST PROTECT OUR FAMILIES FROM THE CORONAVIRUS
While about 20% of the people in the United States are Latino, Latinos represent 30% of all COVID-19 cases and more than 17% of all deaths related to the virus in the United States. Kristin Urquiza shared the heartbreaking story of her father, who died from COVID-19.
Her pain is shared by so many in our community and throughout the country. Latinos are overrepresented in low-wage jobs and as essential workers, meaning that not only have they borne the brunt of exposure to the virus, they have also been more likely to have suffered loss of job or wages. Indeed, in a May 2020 poll by SOMOS Health Care, UnidosUS, and MoveOn, 50% of Latino households reported having difficulty buying or finding basic necessities for themselves and for their families.
In a series of videos responding to the convention, UnidosUS President and CEO Janet Murguía laid out what all Americans need in order to get through the rest of the pandemic, and how we can move the country forward after.
To weather the storm, we need to:
- Provide COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines for everyone, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status.
- Extend enhanced unemployment benefits in full so families can put food on the table and stay in their homes.
- Give cash payments to everyone, including ITIN holders and mixed status families, so people can pay for necessities.
WE MUST MAKE ACCESS TO GOOD JOBS FOR OUR COMMUNITY A PRIORITY
On the second day of the convention, speakers focused on the importance of getting the economy back on track. Before the pandemic, Latinos had the highest labor participation rate of all U.S. workers. As the pandemic has struck, Latinos have the highest unemployment rate out of any racial or ethnic group. More than half of Latino households report experiencing a pay cut, cut hours, or job loss. Additionally, the exclusion of mixed-status families from economic recover the CARES Act has meant that millions of households across the country have not received financial relief.
To help the economy recover, UnidosUS believes in:
- Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to all families regardless of citizenship status.
- Providing access to rental and mortgage supports so people can put food on the table and stay in their homes.
- Suspending college student loan payments for a year.
- Building on the success of the Affordable Care Act and expand access to proven nutrition programs like SNAP that help families put food on the table.
- Opening a path to citizenship for hardworking immigrants who have made their lives here, including our DREAMERs and TPS recipients.
WE MUST EXPAND ACCESS TO HEALTH COVERAGE
On Wednesday, when Senator Kamala Harris accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination to become vice president of the United States, the speakers at the convention focused on health care. Health care has been a top priority for Latinos, even before the start of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year.
Latinos already had one of the highest uninsured rates before the start of the pandemic—19% vs. 6% for non-Hispanic Whites.
Prior to the pandemic, SNAP helped approximately 10 million Latinos put food on the table. As Latinos face the highest unemployment rate of any racial or ethnic group in the United States, access to nutritious food remains precarious for our community. Latinos were already more likely to struggle with food insecurity (16.8% of Latinos lived in a food insecure household vs. 10.4% of non-Hispanic White households before the pandemic), and that number has only gone up, rising to 21% in June 2020. One estimate even put this at 42% of Latino households.
To protect Americans’ health, we’re fighting for:
- Expanded health insurance to cover free COVID-19 testing, treatment, and vaccines for all.
- Ensuring that the more than 25 million Americans who speak a language other than English have access to the information they need to stay safe and healthy.
- Policies and leaders who will build a more just, healthier America for the future.
- A stronger ACA, along with expansions to Medicaid and CHIP, so that everyone has health insurance, regardless of citizenship status.
- Addressing hunger and increasing access to nutritious food for hardworking families. Half of all Hispanic households are having difficulty putting food on the table. Let’s start by increasing SNAP benefits and removing discriminatory barriers for immigrants who are lawfully present.
- Culturally competent mental health services for our community, especially our kids who are a big part of America’s future.
WE MUST ENGAGE LATINO VOTERS
This year, there will be 32 million eligible Latino voters in our country. When our community is registered, we vote. For example, in the 2016 presidential election, 83% of registered Latino voters went to the polls. Latinos are already set to make the difference in battleground House races across the country.
And yet, 60% of Latinos say that they have not been contacted by either the Democratic or Republican campaigns. This has to change.
Your vote and your voice matter. Learn more about UnidosUS’s efforts to register Latino voters and have our community count in the 2020 census at adelanteunidos.com.