The Latinx and Hispanic population is one of the fastest growing communities in Indiana. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding the immigrant populations in our state, especially those who hail from Latin American or Spanish-speaking countries. So, let’s examine what these words mean, what this population needs in Indiana and debunk some myths that have circulated over the years.
What’s the difference between the words Latino, Latinx and Hispanic?
- Latino: a person who is from a Latin American country/territory.
- Latinx: the gender neutral version of Latino, becoming more popular in general usage over the last few years.
- Hispanic: relating to or from a Spanish-speaking country. This would include non-Latin American countries like Spain.
Since most of the Spanish-speaking population in Indiana have Latin American roots, we’ll stick with the term Latinx from here on out.
Indiana’s Latinx population
Just like our country, Indiana is a diverse state of immigrants! Between 2000 and 2010, the Latinx population in Indiana alone grew almost 82 percent, which was among the top quarter of states in the U.S. There are many reasons Latinxs move to our country and our state, including:
- Economic opportunity
- War and rebellions in home countries
- Poverty and spread of illnesses
- Natural disasters, like Hurricane Maria
- Violence from drug cartels
Because of these influences, the Hispanic and Latinx population in the U.S. reached a historic high of 57 million in 2015! According to the Pew Research Center, Latinos accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population growth between 2000 and 2014. This is incredible and shows how important the Latinx population is to the prosperity and economy of the United States.
So, what does the Latinx population need here in Indiana?
- Good paying jobs with higher wages so that families can be provided for
- A guaranteed living wage
- Comprehensive and affordable healthcare coverage
- The ability to afford a college education without going into debt
- Affordable housing
- The ability to start and run a business without fear of monopoly, big businesses or big banks taking their hard-earned profits
Myths surrounding Latinx immigrants
Many false narratives have been put forth about the Latix community by those who view immigration into our state negatively and wish to limit immigration or increase fear of immigrant participation in our economy. To combat that rhetoric, let’s breakdown some of those myths.
Myth #1: Undocumented Latinxs are entering our country and our state at alarming rates.
Truth: Over the last decade, the actual number of undocumented immigrants in this country has NOT INCREASED. In fact, it has slightly decreased.
Myth #2: Immigrant populations increase crime in our state.
Truth: The foreign-born population is statistically less-likely to commit crimes than native-born citizens. Native citizens are 5 times more likely to commit serious crimes and/or be incarcerated than immigrants, including those from Latino and Hispanic countries. Therefore, by increasing the proportion of the population that is non-native, we can actually reduce the overall crime rate. It seems that there is a strong argument for accepting more immigrants in the name of increasing safety and security.
Myth #3: Immigrants are expensive and compete with native-born citizens for resources and jobs.
Truth: A foreign-born resident is estimated to supply $19,000 more in tax revenue each decade than he or she consumes in government benefits. In addition, a Hamilton Project study found that the average foreign-born resident will actually have a higher net fiscal contribution than a native-born citizen at almost every education level (graphic below). Once again, this net profit still includes any government benefits an immigrant might consume.
Myth #4: An offshoot of Myth #3, this is the belief that unauthorized immigrants under the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program use the same services as regular Americans, including Social Security.
Truth: It is true that Dreamers participate in the Social Security program, but no DACA immigrant is eligible to draw Social Security benefits. In fact, since the program started in 2012, DACA workers and their employers have contributed about $2 billion per year into the Social Security system via payroll taxes. Simply put, DACA immigrants generate lots of money for the Social Security system without taking any of its benefits. Finally, DACA workers are not eligible for the following benefits: Affordable Care Act subsidies, Medicaid, food stamps or cash assistance.
As you can see, immigrants, especially Latinx and Hispanic immigrants, are an enormous boon to our state and economy. Our government’s revenue depends on good policy that allows people from all backgrounds to come here and make a life for themselves. Supporting immigration solves a lot of problems. Do you want safer communities and schools? Support immigration. Do you want to increase GDP and tax revenue? Support immigration. Do you want to diversify our economy with new ideas and new small businesses? Support immigration!
¡Todos son bienvenidos!