At more than 15% of the American population, Latinos are being courted by candidates from the presidential race down to state and local races, which is why the AFL-CIO has teamed up with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) to host a panel discussing what’s at stake in this election for Latino voters.
Watch the webcast at home: www.aflcio.org/latinovote.
Moderated by Univision anchor Teresa Rodriquez, we’re hearing from Janet Murguia, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza; Mike Periu, founder of Proximo International; Thomas Saenz, president and general counsel of MALDEF; Neidi Dominguez of DREAM Team Los Angeles; and Ruben Garcia of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
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High levels of debt, poor working conditions and high unemployment are some of the serious issues facing Latinos today, says Hector Sanchez, executive director of Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA).
There are more than 2 million Latino-owned businesses resulting in more than 275,000 billion in revenues each year, says Teresa Rodriguez, the discussion's moderator and anchor from Univision. Latinos are the most entrepreneurial ethnic group in the country.
Latinos are losing ground, says AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka. He would like to ask each presidential candidate what they would do to invest in the economy and create jobs for working families.
Janet Murguía, president and CEO of NCLR, says today one out of every four children in the U.S. today is Hispanic. "If we're not investing in those children now, we're undermining future global competitiveness of this country."
By 2035, Latinos will be a third of the workforce, says Murguía.
The Latino community must be dedicated to educating each other on the importance of civic engagement, Murguía says. Not just for the presidential election. This is something we have to committed to in the local and state-wide elections. "We want our Latino community to be educated voters....We have to have a longer term view on this."
Trumka says the labor movement is reaching out to young Latino workers in the building trades industry for apprenticeships and training and making sure they're being paid fair wages.
When it comes to the educational achievement gap, Trumka says collective bargaining will help close this gap because teachers have a role in advocating for smaller classrooms, better school conditions and working with parents.
On immigration reform, the panelists discussed sensible solutions that don't involve deportations that hurt families.
Latino and progressive groups have banded together to work to get health care for every American, says Trumka. Romney says health care isn't a right, Trumka says it is.
As the discussion wrapped up, each panelist added closing remarks.
DREAMer Neidi Dominguez said as we think critically about education, employment, immigration and other issues, it's important to band together and stop criminalizing immigrants.
We're being attacked as immigrants and as brown people. I would love to see whoever wins make a clear effort of decriminalizing us....stop putting young Latino children into prisons. It's no coincidence that two major populations who can't vote are immigrants and people in prison.