June 30, 2020
The Latine population will comprise the largest group of nonwhite, non Hispanic voters in the 2020 election at 13% of eligible voters, up from 9% in 2008. Thirty two million Latine voted in the 2018 election. At 18% of the population, they are the fastest growing demographic in the US. Sixty percent have Mexican origins. Two thirds of the group is native born. About half of the group lives in CA, NM, and Texas with significant populations also found in NY, Arizona, and Florida.
Many myths regarding Latine persist, in the media, and sometimes the group is ignored in articles about discrimination which consistently focus on African-Americans. Recent protests against police brutality and systemic violence against African Americans have been heavily supported by Latine who also suffer disproportionate attention from law enforcement. Seventy eight percent of Latinos report feeling discrimination from police. They are more likely to be stopped by police than white drivers with less basis for the stop while white motorists are more likely to be found with illegal articles and less likely to be stopped. National data is virtually non-existent but recent articles highlight deaths in Arizona and the Bay area inflicted against young Latinos. In the Bay area, two young men Erik Salgado (23) and Sean Monterrosa (22) were killed in June by CHP and Vallejo police respectively, and each for suspected minor property crimes. Neither was armed. In CA LatinX are 39% of the population and 46% of deadly shootings. The April death of Carlos Ingram López in Tuscon has belatedly led to the resignation of the officers involved and an investigation into the incident. Articles regarding LatinX protests make the point that they support The Black Lives Matter movement while suggesting that Brown lives are also in peril.
In recent years the US high school graduation rate has met a new high but it is not equivalent across groups. In 2017, the overall rate was 85%, with 81% Hispanic and 89% White graduating. Disparities in college graduation are larger with just 15% of Latinos having bachelor’s degrees compared to 41% white (in 2014). College enrollment data reveals less disparity with 35% Latino enrolled compared to 42% white. Nearly one half of LatinX college students are enrolled in two year pubic colleges which has contributed to a significantly lower rate of student debt in head of households who are under 40 years old (22% and 42% respectively). Attendance in college has doubled in the past two decades.
In the era of the Covid 19 epidemic, LatinX households are highly impacted with 49% reporting they, or someone in their household, has either lost a job or suffered a pay cut compared to 33% of the general population. Eight million Hispanics work in the restaurant, hotel, and other service sector jobs hard hit by closures and layoffs. They are almost twice as likely to test positive for the virus than their portion of the population would predict. Latine income averages 74 cents to the white dollar; the figure for Latinas compared to white males is most dramatic at 54 cents. Latine are 1.7 times more likely than Whites to live in poverty and their households have an average of 1/8th the wealth of white households. Head of households with college degrees average twice the income of those without a degree and four times the wealth.
Latine often are compared to African Americans, in the media, rather than being considered as a discriminated group in their own right. It is recently that racism has been viewed as more than a Black and white issue. A lot of anti-immigration sentiment is aimed at the LatinX population even though they are not the largest group currently immigrating to the US (that is Asians). The portion of Hispanics who are foreign born is smaller than those who are native born. Yet the stereotypes and condemnation of the group proceeds despite the fact that in many measures the group fares better than other groups; less suicide, substance abuse, crimes than other groups and greater longevity than whites in spite of many measures of discrimination suffered by group members. Recent anti-immigration sentiment has led to less immigration and some Latine choosing to leave the country. Bills such as SB4 in Texas create an intimidating environment with increased questioning regarding citizenship of suspected Latinx individuals even with no legitimate cause for the stops or for minor traffic offenses. The Trump administration has gone all out on states and municipalities pledging sanctuary status and refusing to comply with government efforts to promote deportation. So far the courts have mostly supported the sanctuary efforts. Acknowledgement of the essential roles the Latine population play today, and throughout history, in the fight for civil rights is yet another area which is sorely lacking in the education curricula and in the culture at large.