Seven Common Issues
One Special Initiative for Pennsylvania’s Latinos and Latinas
approved and adopted by the MCDC October, 2014
Job growth under Republican Administration has been a spectacular failure. We need an increase in private sector opportunities paired with public sector jobs. Public sector job opportunities in police, transit, construction, etc. are reliable stepping stones to the middle-class for still expanding populations such as Latinos and Latinas.
We advocate a rise in the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour: no person working full time should continue to live in poverty.
Latinos and Latinas were hardest hit by the collapse of the housing market and the consequences of wealth loss due to underwater mortgages. The coordination of federal, state and local agencies to address this issue will be of special importance for Latinos and Latinas.
The drastic cuts of a billion dollars to public education by the Corbett Administration at all levels needs to be reversed. Latinos and Latinas are a population that have fewer options outside the public school system and often are penalized by ill-conceived and poorly monitored state supported charter and cyber-schools. Some charter schools have been designed to preserve and develop bilingual and bicultural potential for Latinos and Latinas: we recommend state-wide attention to “best practices” so that educational efficiency will be enhanced for the Commonwealth’s Hispanic youth choosing to attend charter schools. We also encourage target or magnet schools within the public system to cultivate leadership potential for Latino youth.
There is a pressing need for Pennsylvania to immediately accept the generous support of Medicaid made in the Affordable Care Act which was repudiated by the Corbett Administration and delayed until the eve of the election. In particular, information about securing participation in this reform must be publicized among Latinos/as with specialized communications targeting our population.
The declaration by the courts against the unconstitutional Voter Photo ID Act is welcomed. However, this does not remove the need for reform of the outdated electoral code of the Commonwealth. Latinos/as would achieve greater political participation by early voting, accessible absentee balloting and more aggressive voter registration initiatives.
Police brutality needs to be addressed by structured instruments of citizen relief. Conditions in prisons and attention to rehabilitation require attention. In particular, fears of state and local government collusion in the deportation process of persons without documentation need to be soundly repudiated.
The Specific Latino Initiative for the Commonwealth
Create community space in areas with a concentrated Latino population.
Special emphasis on Latinos/as living in these five areas or “pocket communities:”
Allentown, where 42.8% of the total population is Hispanic and
Bethlehem where it is 24.4%;
Reading where Latinos are 58.2%;
Monroe where the percentage is 13.5%;
Philadelphia where 12.3% is Latino.
This community space would have resources for programs to encourage cultural expression and link small business serving the community.
These objectives could be accomplished with a coordination of the following initiatives:
1. Extend to other parts of the Commonwealth, the Land Use Bank, which owes its creation to many initiatives from Philadelphia Councilwoman, María Sanchez-Quiñones.
2. The transformation of public space into community gardens and cultural meeting places identified within Latino cultural traditions should be sponsored in the various pocket communities. This would adapt the grass-roots initiative in New York City of “Las Casitas.”
3. A private-public partnership spurred by the Governor’s initiative and supported by appropriate legislation to create a program in Pennsylvania for a traveling theatre that presents Latin American and Spanish theatrical works and pays attention to new efforts in drama and film that reflect the contemporary experiences of Latinos and Latinas.
4. Combine federal, state and local programs to add a tax-exempt consideration for these community cultural clusters.