Yesterday I had the pleasure of participating in a policy conversation held at the Center for American Progress on ensuring that the ladder of opportunity remains strong for the Latino community. In conjunction with that event we released a report, “An America Built to Last: President Obama’s Agenda and the Hispanic Community,” that takes a close look at the President’s agenda and how the Administration’s policies have made a difference for Hispanics and all Americans as we work to move our country forward out of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression.
The need for this report is simple. Latinos will account for 60 percent of the nation’s population growth in the coming decades, and in turn will be an increasingly larger share of our nation’s workforce. If our nation is going to be successful, we need a strong and well prepared workforce, so the success of our nation is tied directly to the success of the Hispanic community. That’s something President Obama understands, and why he has made it a priority that his Administration is not only reflective of America’s great diversity, but that we’re being open and responsive to the needs of all Americans.
So this report looks at what the policies and programs of this Administration have meant for Hispanic Americans throughout the last three and a half years. The report highlights:
- How policies in the Recovery Act, including tax cuts for working families and improvements in unemployment insurance, combined to keep over 2 million Hispanics out of poverty in 2010.
- How the tax agreement the President fought for extended key provisions including the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC) that directly benefit an estimated 3.7 million Hispanic families, including 8 million Hispanic children.
- How the payroll tax cut the President fought for ensures that taxes do not go up on nearly 25 million Hispanic workers.
- How since the start of the Administration through March 31, 2012, more than $3.8 billion in over 10,800 Small Business Administration loans went to Hispanic-owned small businesses including more than $128 million through nearly 300 international trade loans.
- The report also highlights how the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working on behalf of Hispanic consumers, including taking on deceptive credit card practices, and providing protections for those who use remittance service providers and payday lenders.
- Because education is such an important issue for this community, the report also has an extensive section on what’s being done to improve education from cradle to career and how these reforms affect a community in which only 56 percent of Latino students graduate on time from high school.
- Along those lines, the report highlights how more than 150,000 Hispanic students stand to benefit from the increases in Pell Grants. The Obama Administration has raised the maximum Pell Grant award and has provided resources to support an additional three million Pell Grant recipients, a 50 percent increase in students served since 2008.
- The report also details the Administration’s work toward immigration reform, and improvements that have been made in both border security and immigration enforcement, as well as in streamlining and improving the legal immigration process.
- Civil rights have also been at the forefront of the efforts of this Administration. So this report looks at how the Department of Justice and Civil Rights divisions throughout the government are enforcing our nation’s civil rights laws, and what that means for the Hispanic community. Everything from proteting victims of crimes and abuse, to protections for farm workers, to enforcing hate crime laws and protecting migrants and guest workers against human trafficking.
- And since more than 210,000 Hispanic soldiers are currently serving in the U.S. Armed Forces and we have over 1.1 million Hispanic veterans, the report looks at what our Administration is doing to make college more accessible for veterans, to make tax credits available for them, to help more veterans start businesses, and to increase access to intensive reemployment services.