2021 LULAC NATIONAL INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES
After a tumultuous year, the American Jobs Plan has been set forth as an investment in our country and our future. LULAC is proud to advocate for these infrastructure priorities to ensure that our community is not forgotten when this policy is put into action. This investment has the potential to lift millions out of poverty and improve our quality of life. Investing in our nation’s infrastructure will allow us to build a better future for our communities and environment.
Universal Broadband has the potential to bridge the digital divide and lift our community out of poverty. Providing broadband access means that children can learn, families can connect, and people are able to adapt to an increasingly digital world. Rural communities of color have the lowest broadband adoption rates compared to the rest of the nation. One reason is due to the lack of funding needed to update old infrastructure or in some cases establish the infrastructure. 37% of Latino households had either no broadband internet connectivity or could connect only through their phone and 25% of Hispanics’ only access to the internet is a smartphone. These figures are staggering especially when compared to our white counterparts where 80% have access to broadband.
Throughout the pandemic, farmworkers have been working on the frontlines to ensure this nation is fed. We need to secure a path to citizenship for farmworkers. More than half of the hired farm workers (51%) are Latino. Additionally, immigrants comprise 73% of the crop farmworkers’ labor force, with 48% of them having no work authorization. These workers and their families have limited protections and little access to basic needs such as housing. Medical care, and education. Farmworkers deserve a pathway to citizenship.
There are only 37 affordable and available homes for every 100 extremely low-income renter households. Ensuring that there are opportunities for quality affordable housing would benefit Latinos in every state. Renting among Latinos has only increased since the Great Recession. More than half of the Latino population in the U.S. rents. Latinos are also more likely to be housing-cost burden with 55.3% spending more than 30% of their income on rent. Owning a home provides economic stability for a family because they are able to grow their wealth. By increasing the stock of affordable housing and financial resources, this administration has the potential to help thousands of families create stability for generations.
Funding to secure clean and safe drinking water for all is crucial for the Latino community. Millions of people still do not have access to safe, clean, and affordable water, many of which are located in Latino and other vulnerable communities. For example, water systems in counties where Latinos make up 25% of the population, violate drinking water contaminations rules two times the rest of the U.S. Data also shows that primarily low-income communities of color struggle to afford their water bills especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, face contamination from toxins like lead and PFAS, face more drinking water violations, and are more likely to live near polluted rivers and streams. Through the AJP it is a priority that water infrastructure funds and assistance are delivered to Latino and other vulnerable communities.
Climate Change & Environmental Justice
Climate change disproportionately harms the U.S. Latino population and as such it is critical we advocate for climate justice and environmental justice solutions. Investing in infrastructure is essential in the fight to combat climate change. It is inevitable that we will increasingly face severe weather, extreme heat, air pollution, water pollution, environmental degradation, and forced migration. Modernizing electric grids, roads, bridges, transportation, and energy will allow us to build resilient communities.
Jobs & Workforce Development
Latino workers are also more vulnerable to climate-related impacts given that they make up significant portions of the US crop and livestock production workers— jobs that are much more susceptible to extreme heat, air pollution, wildfires, and other environmental hazards. The AJP should include a Just Transition to green energy jobs by investing in training and education for underrepresented communities including Latinos, people of color, women, low-income individuals, veterans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ members. These jobs should also include partnerships with HSIs and HBCUs as well as the opportunity to join a union.
As we look to the future of industries and jobs, we must always have the safety of our workers at the forefront. Latinos make up 18% of the workforce yet are overrepresented in the construction industry comprising 30% of the workforce. Latino men also make up the largest proportion of workplace injuries rate with 13.7 per 1,000 workers. The meatpacking industry also has a large Latino workforce that has been marred with workplace fatalities. For example, the nitrogen explosion that killed 6 people in a Georgia meatpacking plant is a horrid reminder that we must do more to protect our community and hold corporations accountable. While ensuring their safety, we must also protect worker’s rights and the right to unionize.
Countless businesses had to shut their doors due to the pandemic. Latinos make up 1.8 million of the 12.2 million business owners in the United States. The largest factor limiting our community is the lack of wealth. Many minority and immigrant-owned businesses are still struggling to keep afloat in this economy. As well as creating jobs, we need to help our business owners and inspiring entrepreneurs with resources that we give them the help they need to keep businesses thriving or start new businesses.