News Release

UnidosUS Convenes Texas Latino Leaders to Highlight Findings of Recent Latino Voter Poll and Key Policy Issues

September 19, 2019

San Antonio, TX—As the nation gears up for a critical election season, today, UnidosUS (formerly NCLR), hosted a timely roundtable discussion featuring the participation of key Texas state legislators Senator José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) and Representative Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio). The event, hosted by UnidosUS Affiliate Mexican American Unity Council (MAUC), served to highlight a recent UnidosUS Latino voter poll and featured a discussion on top Latino priority issues areas including, the economy, health care and education among others. UnidosUS has worked at the state and federal level to advocate for specific policies within these areas aimed improving outcomes for the Latino community.

Hispanics are a key demographic that represent more than one-third of the state’s population and about 22 percent of the votes cast in the last election. The UnidosUS poll gauged respondent’s opinions on what they seek in a presidential candidate—top traits identified included someone who will 1) unify the country; 2) have realistic policy goals and 3) achieves those policy goals. Respondents were asked to rank their number one issue of concern and results showed economy and jobs (22 percent) were ranked number one followed by concerns over health care costs (21 percent) and immigration policy (19 percent).

UnidosUS policy experts also underlined how economic policies have an immediate and direct effect on Texas Latinos. Tax credits like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and the Child Tax Credit (CTC), have been critical in lifting hardworking Latinos out of poverty. In Texas alone, more than 1.1 million Latino households received these crucial benefits in 2018. Yet the poverty rate in Texas for Latinos (20.7 percent) is still significantly higher than that of Whites (14.7 percent). UnidosUS recently held an event in Houston with U.S. Representative Sylvia Garcia on the economic status and outlook of Latinos in the state, discussing ways in which state and federal policies could improve overall economic stability.

Health care coverage and affordability continued to be a top-of-mind concern for Latino Texans. Since 2013, when major coverage provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, more than 20 million Americans, including at least four million Latino adults and 600,000 Latino children gained health coverage. In Texas, the uninsured rate among nonelderly Latinos dropped from 35.8 percent to 28.7 percent between 2013 and 2017. Despite these historic gains, Texas has the highest uninsured rate (20 percent) in the nation and more than 2.9 million Texas Latinos are uninsured. When it comes to children, Texas’ child uninsured rate is the highest in the nation (10.7 percent) and that of Latino children is even higher (14.4 percent). UnidosUS policy experts highlighted state legislative efforts this session to help reduce the number of uninsured children in Texas, as well as looming threats at the federal level that could take health coverage from children and families.

Panelists also focused on critical issues related to educational equity. Over the next decade, Latinos will represent about one-third of all K-12 students – yet the education system is not preparing Latino students—a key demographic of the nation’s future workforce. In Texas, for example, only 23 percent of Latino eighth graders score at or above proficient in math, compared to 51percent of their White peers. These achievement gaps continue into reading, where only 21 percent of Latino eighth graders in Texas score proficient, compared to 40 percent of their White peers. The gap is even wider for English learners (ELs), of which only 5% percent of students are proficient in reading by the time they reach eighth grade. UnidosUS had advocated for the expansion of pre-K to full day for low-income and EL students across Texas, and succeeded in including it in HB3, the public school finance bill, which was signed into law by the governor in June.

UnidosUS also boasts one of the nation’s largest non-partisan voter registration efforts and has fought back against efforts in Texas to target thousands of naturalized citizens in an effort to suppress Latino votes. The organization works with local Affiliate groups to help bring awareness to Latinos on critical issues, encourage their role as advocates and their participation at the voting booth.

“Working with our state-based affiliate organizations, we are confident that we will make progress on these issues on both and the state and federal levels, and that Latinos will become increasingly involved in the lead up to the election, particularly with so much at stake for our community,” said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Deputy Vice President, UnidosUS.

In addition to highlighting top issues of concern for Latinos, the UnidosUS poll also highlighted how important it is for candidates from both parties to engage them early this election season. Only 16 percent of those polled indicated they like today’s GOP while 56 percent of prior GOP voters in the Lone Star State said they would have a hard time supporting the party today. While Democrats lead Trump by a margin of 62:20 of those polled, 18 percent of eligible Texas Latino voters are still undecided.

“Latino voters are keying in on what candidates plan to do in terms of their top issues of concern—how are they going to help ensure better economic, health and educational outcomes for the community. Are they going to support important tax credits, affordable health care coverage, a quality educational experience for their kids? As the Latino voting population continues to grow and exercise their electoral power, it’s not going to be enough for candidates to conduct last-minute outreach and pitch vague policy plans—they are much savvier than that,” concluded Martinez.

UnidosUS, previously known as NCLR (National Council of La Raza), is the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Through its unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico, UnidosUS simultaneously challenges the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos at the national and local levels. For more than 50 years, UnidosUS has united communities and different groups seeking common ground through collaboration, and that share a desire to make our country stronger. For more information on UnidosUS, visit www.unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Contact:
Camila Gallardo
news@unidosus.org
(305) 215-4259