As many of you know, I’m a Dominican immigrant to the United States where I’ve lived for the last thirteen years. While I truly believe in the important role of immigrants for this country to succeed and thrive, the main focus of my work is not people like me. I often get asked why I care so much about US-Born Latinos , since many perceive that this population has it “easy” because they possess legal status in the country. I’m here to tell you they do need our attention, for their sake and ours.
With the anti-immigrant climate we are currently experiencing, I understand why some people wonder and can’t understand why I’m not focusing my efforts on advocating for those who are at risk of deportation and worse, and I am. However, I’ve come to understand how crucial is for US-Born Latinos to succeed in order for the whole country to succeed and to continue to be a leader in the world.
Throughout my life I’ve often chosen the road less traveled in favor of what I truly believe in and are most passionate about. That’s the instinct that made me move to the United States, and as a US citizen who has have great opportunity here, I feel a duty to pay it forward and help others succeed. Through my work within the US Hispanic Market and as a Social Media Influencer, I’ve come to learn how vital are US-Born Latinos to the United States and how as we fail this population, we are failing ourselves and the future of the country.
There are many reasons why we should be paying more attention to US-Born Latinos, but I wanted to highlight the top 5 reasons on my list, not as an explanation of why I’m passionate about American Latinos, but as a way to motivate and inspire you to also care about the present and future of US-Born Latinos as a way to preserve the future of the United States.
Why I Care About US-Born Latinos And You Should Too
If you are skeptical or unsure that this topic relates to you, no matter your background, I urge you to read my reasons and analyze what they mean to you, your family and the future of our country.
- I’m An American Mom. As cliché as you might think this is, I believe there is no greater driver than the one of a mom who wants the best for her kids. Wanting the United States to be the best they can be for our children is a common desire of moms; as a Latina mom I see the need to advocate for better opportunities, more acknowledgement and inclusion for our Latino children. Moreover, for any non-Latina American mother, it is very important that the growing Latino population in schools can perform at a high level, because it sets a higher standard for all students. Education is only an example of that concern; this extends to all other areas of our society, health, science, technology, and beyond. The more we grow in numbers, the larger the need of high achieving Latinos that can push the country forward.
- The Increase of American Latino Children in Foster Care. The more we focus exclusively on immigrant Latinos, the more we ignore issues that only relate to US-born Latinos. An example of that is the increase of Latino children in the child welfare system, which happens to be a growing issue for third generation Latinos as per the report by Child Welfare with the most recent Foster Care Statistics. This is one of the clear signs that neglecting this population will generate negative results for generations to come. Although this is not an issue exclusive to Latinos and nor are Latinos the group with higher numbers in the system, the sad reality is that the numbers are increasing and we ought to start paying attention and taking action.
- More Latino Children Entering Schools, Yet Not Achieving. It is no secret that American Latino children are the fastest growing ethnic group entering U.S. public schools each year. However, they are still the ones who more likely than any other children in America to end up dropping out and having children once they become teenagers. So, like the ‘Coming of Age’ report by Pew Research Center states, US-born Latinos are doing worse in many aspects than their immigrant counterparts: “For example, teen parenthood rates and high school dropout rates are much lower among the second generation than the first, but they appear higher among the third generation than the second. This is a real problem for the United States as the population continues to grow. We are headed to have a generation of workers that’s not prepared for the demands of a global economy.
- American Latinos Have High Rates of Poverty. Although we have seen some improvement in the poverty rates for Hispanics in general, still 23.5 percent of the Latino population lives in poverty. From that percentage, US-born Latinos are more likely to live in poverty, have greater exposure to gangs and therefore continue and widen the circle of poverty. Again, this might seem like a foreign problem to many, but the poverty rates in the US continue to increase and they are in direct correlation to people of color. It then begs the question, if we live in a minority majority country and those are the people we are leaving behind, what kind of future are we really building for our children?
- Failing Minorities Will Fail The US. Other than the importance of recognizing our cultural differences as members of this melting pot called the United States, dividing the population by ethnicity when it comes to creating legislation and opportunities is a big mistake. The wider the achievement gap between American Latinos and other minority groups, and what it is considered the mainstream, the harder it will be to maintain the standards of living in America, our place as world leaders and our tradition as innovators and creators.