UCLA’s New Latino Data Hub: A Catalyst for Change

The Latino population in the United States has long been viewed as monolithic, with little acknowledgement of its rich tapestry of identities and experiences, and this mischaracterization has persisted despite tremendous growth in both the numbers and diversity of Latino communities in recent years. Because these communities — from Mexican and Puerto Rican to Venezuelan and Panamanian — are impacted by social, political and economic factors in different ways, the “one-dimensional” stereotype has obscured the significant barriers many groups face in accessing opportunities and achieving political representation and social mobility. Now, there is a new resource to help foster a better understanding of these diverse populations: the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute’s Latino Data Hub, a digital platform offering a broad range of reliable and actionable data on Latino communities across the country. Available in both English and Spanish, the free digital tool offers customizable visualizations in key areas such as family wellness, access to health insurance, access to education, employment and income. The data is available at the national, state and county level and provides granular information in areas such as nativity and citizenship, sex, gender, age, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education level and employment. The Latino Data Hub, developed with funding from Casey Family Programs and the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, will “empower advocates, policymakers, community leaders, philanthropic organizations, researchers, media and other change makers to develop data-driven solutions to create stronger communities,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, research director of UCLA LPPI. — Alberto Lammers 

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On the Complex Dynamics of the Latino Vote

The Boston Globe highlighted findings from a UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute (LPPI) report that identified the complex dynamics of the Latino vote in the 2020 elections, with lessons for campaign strategists in this fall’s midterm elections. Latino voters are the new swing voters, but the Democratic Party seems to be in denial about this insight, the Globe columnist wrote. Researchers found that Latino voters split their ballot at a significant rate in 2020. “They are convincible, you can go out and reach out to them, and they’ll think about their vote carefully,” said Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, LPPI’s director of research. “They will eventually make a decision based on what resonates the most with them, but also on who engages them the most.” Dominguez-Villegas said some Democratic campaigns still use an outdated, one-size-fits-all approach to Latino engagement without recognizing inherent differences between, say, voters of Venezuelan descent and second-generation Mexican-Americans.


Report Highlights COVID’s Impact on Higher Education Goals

Inside Higher Ed and Axios highlighted the findings of a policy report from the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative about the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Black and Latino students. According to the report, Black and Latino students were more likely than others to cancel or postpone their higher education plans during the COVID-19 pandemic. This trend persisted even after vaccines were made widely available. “Higher education attainment is an important pathway to social and economic mobility and has cascading effects across a person’s lifespan,” explained  Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, the initiative’s director of research. “Given Latinos’ position as the future workforce of America, addressing this disparity is critical to the prosperity of our nation.”

Dominguez-Villegas on Possible Census Undercount of Latinos

Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, director of research for the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to the Sacramento Bee about the possible undercount of Latinos in the 2020 Census. States with large Latino populations including Texas, Florida and Arizona did not gain congressional representation as predicted, raising concerns about the potential undercount of Latino residents. COVID-19 created new obstacles for census outreach, and Latino communities were disproportionately affected by the pandemic. “During the count, it was Latino communities that were having really high rates of infections and deaths, which also definitely impacted the way in which people view the priority of a census,” Dominguez-Villegas said. “When your community is dying, you don’t really care so much about participating in the census.” He noted that the Latino population in California grew by 1.5 million residents between 2010 and 2019. More information about the accuracy of the count in California will be available when further Census Bureau results are released.

Domínguez-Villegas on Latino Voter Trends

Rodrigo Domínguez-Villegas, research director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, spoke to the Atlantic about Latino voter trends in the United States. In the 2020 election, incumbent President Donald Trump won a higher share of Latino votes than he did four years earlier. Domínguez-Villegas said he thinks Trump’s 2020 performance with Latinos was mostly a reversion to the mean after a low ebb in 2016. “It was going back to the historic numbers for the Republican Party,” he said. However, experts disagree about what to expect in the next election. “Latino voters still prefer the Democratic candidates by pretty large margins,” Domínguez-Villegas said. “In some places, [there were] smaller margins than 2016, but nothing out of the ordinary.” The 2020 election also challenged the common misconception that Latino voters are a monolith. “We slice white voters to tiny little slivers, and we don’t do the same with Latino voters,” he said.

Citizenship for Unauthorized Immigrants Could Add $1.5 Trillion to Economy

Providing citizenship to all unauthorized immigrant workers in the United States would add at least $1.5 trillion to the American economy and $367 billion in federal and state tax revenue over the next decade, according to a new UCLA study. By comparison, granting citizenship only to the members of that group who are considered “essential workers” — including in agriculture, retail and construction — would generate an additional $1.2 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product and $298 billion in tax revenue over the same time frame. Granting citizenship only to people covered by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals policy, or DACA, would generate $112 billion in GDP and $28 billion in tax revenue; and granting citizenship only to recipients of Temporary Protected Status would account for $62 billion in GDP and $16 billion in tax revenue. The study’s publication comes as Congress and the Biden administration are considering ways to move forward on immigration reform. In the past two months, multiple standalone bills have been introduced to address specific aspects of immigration policy. Some proposals would grant citizenship to certain groups of unauthorized immigrants — those covered by DACA or Temporary Protected Status, for example — while excluding others. The report’s authors note that excluding certain groups of immigrants from earning citizenship would mean forgoing billions of dollars in economic output and tax revenue, and the potential for creating tens of thousands of jobs. The study is a collaboration among the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative, the UCLA North American Integration and Development Center and the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment.


Dominguez-Villegas on Prioritizing Vaccination of Latinos

Rodrigo Dominguez-Villegas, director of research at the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) at UCLA Luskin, was featured in a Univision video discussing a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom about the importance of prioritizing the vaccination of Latino residents. Sent by LPPI and Latino leaders from across California, the letter is “a call to action for the governor, his administration and state leaders to increase the investment of resources and necessary information so that the vaccines get to Latino communities,” Dominguez-Villegas said. Despite making up the majority of the essential workforce and suffering a disproportionate number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in California, people of color are not receiving equitable access to vaccines, he said. “This is why we wrote the letter and called on Latino leaders to get the governor’s attention,” he explained, adding that the letter was signed by more than 60 leaders who are important in the Latino community.