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Romney’s remarks implying Latinos want handouts still sting, especially in light of new economic report

LatinaLista — Mitt Romney’s insulting response during the latest debate in which he replied the best way to attract Latino voters was to remind Latinos that we, nor our ancestors, came here looking for a handout but opportunity obviously has a predetermined image of Latinos.

Graphic showing the steady rise in unemployment among Latinos

If any Latino family is on food stamps or their children receiving free lunches at school or using emergency rooms for medical attention, it’s because there’s no other choice to live.

Graph shows the rise in Latino unemployment.

Now, according to the US Census, more than a quarter of Latinos live in poverty – 26.6 percent.

To underscore just how bad it is for Latino families, Senator Bob Casey, Chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released a fact sheet showing that Latinos continue to be impacted by the recession and that more is needed to help Latino workers find those “opportunities” that would pull them out of poverty.

According to some of the findings of the fact sheet:

Over the first 8 months of 2011, Hispanic unemployment averaged 11.6%. Currently, the unemployment rate stands at 11.3% (August 2011), more than two full percentage points above the national unemployment rate of 9.1%.

Nearly 2.6 million Hispanic workers are unemployed, up from 1.4 million at the start of the reces- sion. Hispanics are disproportionately represented among the unemployed, making up 18.5% of the unemployed, but only 14.9% of the labor force.

Most of the income decline in the past decade resulted from the 2007-2009 recession. Between 2007 and 2010, Hispanic median household income declined by 7.2%.

Since the start of the recession, the poverty rate among Hispanics has increased significantly, rising by 5.1 percentage points between 2007 and 2010. This increase in poverty since 2007 has been larger for Hispanics than other racial and ethnic


While Hispanics have the highest uninsured rate among all major racial and ethnic groups, the Hispanic uninsured rate fell to 30.7% in 2010, down from 31.6% in 2009, and from 31.5% in 2007.

To imply that Latinos, on the whole, want handouts is not just unfair and untruthful but ignorant. The work ethic among Latinos is one of the strongest and there’s a reason why entrepreneurialism is so strong among Latinos.

When allowed, Latinos work and create their own jobs. Yet, in an economy where Latinos and blacks are so disproportionately impacted by unemployment that analysts note racism seems to be playing a role in who gets jobs, there’s no amount of self-initiative or determination that can knock down the wall of discrimination.

Nor does it make people forget why their families planted roots in this country.

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