submitted by Valerie Renk; photo by Margaret Murphy
Karen Menendez Coller, Centro Hispano of Dane County Executive Director, shared how recent policies affect the Latino community.
Dr. Coller started with an overview of the state’s Latino community. Seven percent of the population is Latino, and 27 percent are foreign born. One fourth are K-12 students, and 34 percent live in poverty.
Opportunity barriers: segregation, poverty, language, mobility, single parent households, housing cost and education.
Coller shared three policies impacting Latinos and our economy she hopes Rotarians will talk about with their networks.
Drivers’ Licenses for all is the first policy Coller highlighted. The bill has support from the business community as it will increase safety and bring needed employees, especially on dairies where half of workers are Latino. Coller shared the story of Mario, from Honduras. He is now a herdsman in DeForest with a close bond to his employer family. He needs a license to drive to the farm.
Public Charge laws are the second policy Coller is concerned with. These laws are designed to make it harder for families who use government benefits 12 out of 36 months to get citizenship. Coller shared the story of Jennifer, a legal permanent resident originally from Colombia, now a certified doula. Jennifer has used government services and just wants to improve her family’s life.
In-state tuition is the third policy Coller would like to offer deferred action students, i.e. those who are citizens but with undocumented parents. They are forced to pay the $40,000-$45,000 out of state UW-Madison tuition rate despite graduating from a Wisconsin High School having citizenship. Coller shared the story of Gilberto, a dreamer working three jobs.
Coller urged Rotarians to vote and learn about the estimated ten percent of Wisconsinites who are undocumented.
If you missed our meeting this week, you can watch the video here.