Diaz on Trump’s Appeal to Latino Voters

Sonja Diaz, founding director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, spoke to CNN about President Trump’s recent efforts to court Latino voters. While Democratic nominee Joe Biden has been criticized for being slow to commit resources to reach Latino voters, Trump has ramped up efforts to improve his standing among Latino constituents. “What appeals to Latino voters who are supporting Trump is the same thing that appeals to voters who support Trump,” Diaz said. “It’s likely that Latino males will support Trump in 2020 at higher rates than Latinas. And you see that generally in terms of the trends of white voters and white males in particular.” Diaz pointed to Trump’s appeal to male voters in general, saying, “I think that there’s something around masculinity and misogyny that is really galvanizing some voters who identify as men. And I don’t know that there is a cultural component to it. It’s just an American male phenomenon.”

Study Calls for Permanent Residence for Immigrants With Temporary Protected Status

UCLA Luskin’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI) has published a policy brief on the benefits of Temporary Protected Status, an immigration status that permits people from specified countries to remain temporarily in the United States if they cannot safely return to their homes because of a catastrophic event. Of the approximately 400,000 people living in the U.S. under the program, over 88% are in the labor force, over 70% have lived here for more than 20 years, and about two-thirds have U.S.-born children. This suggests the significant destabilizing effect that could be caused by changes that the Trump administration proposed in 2018, which would have removed protections for people from Haiti, Honduras and El Salvador. In 2019, the Department of Homeland Security extended the protections through January 2021 following injunctions arising from a series of lawsuits. To improve the long-term integration of immigrants, the LPPI study recommended granting permanent resident status to those currently living under Temporary Protected Status. It also called for renewing Temporary Protected Status designations for El Salvador, Haiti, Honduras, Nepal, Nicaragua and Sudan — the home nations for 98% of all participants in the program — beyond the January 2021 deadline. “As we have seen with the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, there are benefits with taking people out of the shadows,” said Sonja Diaz, founding director of LPPI. “At a time when immigrants have played a key role in maintaining the economy as essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to understand what is at stake when protections for immigrants like Temporary Protected Status are taken away.” — Eliza Moreno

Brown Bag Talks With Latino Leaders Show Students ‘Where Purpose Meets Passion’ Summer sessions focus on the importance of choosing career paths that make an impact

On Aug. 26, Paul Luna of HELIOS Foundation wrapped up a summer series of brown bag talks that provided guidance to the undergraduate and graduate fellows of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin.

The sessions, which took place over Zoom this year, continued a tradition in which community leaders connect with the policy initiative’s students to discuss career paths and the importance of making an impact.

“I learned that career trajectories are not often a linear progression but instead a culmination of unexpected turns where purpose meets passion,” said policy fellow Diana Garcia, who is studying for her master of public policy at UCLA Luskin.

The brown bag series “allowed me to expose myself to the plethora of career paths available, which will allow me to give back to my Latino community,” said policy fellow Bryanna Ruiz, a political science and Chicana and Chicano Studies major at UCLA.

Each conversation ended with the same question. Here’s that question and how some of the summer speakers chose to answer:

Q: The fellows are an essential part of UCLA LPPI’s strategy to invest in leaders dedicated to making an impact. Returning to the normalcy we remember is no longer an option. We must reimagine a world that centers the needs of the most vulnerable communities and advocates opportunity for all. In a time that asks that we invest in new leadership, what does leadership look like amid COVID-19 and in a world after COVID-19?

Luis Perez, legal services director, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA): We’re not talking about helping out individuals anymore, but systemic change. That’s the framing that people need to start adopting. Helping one person at a time has not changed the systems of oppression that we experience. This is the right time to start reframing the model of systemic change. Systemic change, in many ways, reflects policy change. The Supreme Court looks to society’s expectations of one another as much as they are looking into laws. Laws need to reflect what people think, and they change with society. What are the ways in which we can change the system?

Francela Chi de Chinchilla, vice president of partnerships at Equis Labs: There has been a reframing on what work can be and what to value because of this pandemic. There is a lot of writing already on what leadership in a workplace should look like because of COVID-19. I am grateful that the companies I have worked for have recognized the importance of valuing the whole person and work-life balance, but now I have a baby and I can’t work all day long. I have to stop working and take care of her. This time has allowed me to be more patient and forgiving with myself.

Noerena Limón, senior vice president of public policy and industry relations at the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals: The bolder you are, the farther you’ll get. This is the time where you form coalitions. I have found that the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed me and housing experts to forge some of the best coalition work that I have ever seen happen, because we don’t have to travel to meetings, we are constantly checking in with each other, constantly giving each other the latest information. I would say that we need to ensure that we are working in coalitions and to be bold.

Juan Cartagena, president and general counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF: The good news is that there are multiple examples of excellent leadership happening on the ground. I have seen it in a lot of my criminal justice work with LatinoJustice. I have seen people of all age groups create intersectional conversation about the systems. I see incredible promise about immigration enforcement and criminal justice enforcement in the same breath. I encourage it. I promote it. I have a lot of hope because I have always been an optimistic person. I am not going to let the same barriers that challenged who I was when I was young, when I was picked up for no reason by police, challenge my identity. I refuse to let all of those obstacles get in the way of: I know exactly why I’m here. I’m here to help gente. My optimism extends to today. My optimism took a hit with the outrageousness of body after body being killed on tape. But then again, I talk to people, listen to people and promote people that have better ways of analyzing and connecting with others than I do. They give me a lot of hope. Keep doing what you’re doing. Be honest with yourself about your hard work.

Paul J. Luna, president and CEO of HELIOS Foundation: A great leader has a vision for the future and brings a new or clearer vision or understanding, especially during a time when we need one. In times of change and in times that we are living through today, we look to our leaders to bring that vision, to provide that guidance and, with their knowledge and understanding, to help us make the right decisions. Secondly, a great leader understands the present. We cannot have decisions that are being made for political reasons, and not for the general welfare and health for our community and citizens — especially during this pandemic when we know that communities of color and low-income communities are more directly impacted. Thirdly, a great leader has an appreciation for the history and the past and can acknowledge who came before them. For any leader to think that they are uniquely in the position to lead because of who and what they are or how uniquely bright and talented they are — and don’t appreciate that there are people who came before them and who paid dues and made sacrifices so that they can have the opportunity to lead — if they don’t appreciate that, they will never truly be able to lead successfully and into the future. Honor the past and those who came before you, acknowledge their contributions. I would not have gotten to Stanford University if my dad was not willing to work at a copper mine for 45 years. Leadership will look different than it did before, and the people who are given the opportunity to lead will hopefully involve more women and people of color and from different backgrounds. You all reflect and represent the great future.

Diaz on Trump’s Speech, COVID-19 and Racial Justice

Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, provided live commentary on the Republican National Convention as a political analyst on KTLA News. On the convention’s final night, Diaz noted that President Trump’s speech did not meaningfully address two issues important to Americans: the COVID-19 crisis and nationwide calls for racial justice. Trump has decried protests against racism as lawlessness but has not acknowledged police misconduct, Diaz said. His comments on the coronavirus “haven’t really got into the meat of how it’s impacted families,” focusing instead on placing blame on China, she said. With the death toll, job losses and safety fears caused by COVID-19, Diaz questioned whether Trump’s speech was adequate to win back disaffected voters. “I don’t know how that’s going to play with white female voters across this country,” she said.


Diaz on What Voters Want to Hear From Biden

Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative at UCLA Luskin, offered commentary on the Democratic National Convention as a political analyst on KTLA News. Diaz joined a panel of experts who provided live commentary during the convention broadcasts over four evenings this week. On the final evening, when Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden delivered a key speech, Diaz noted, “Over the course of the last four years, we have seen more job losses than we have ever seen in American history. If Joe Biden can talk about two things, it’s health and jobs.” She added, “Vice President Biden has to talk about what America will look like in January 2021 and tell us about a future that does not have Americans dying unnecessarily and losing shelter with foreclosure on the horizon, but a future of prosperity and opportunity.” Diaz will also provide live commentary on KTLA during the Republican National Convention from Aug. 24-27.


The Cost of Excluding Undocumented Workers From Stimulus Funds

The federal government’s decision to exclude undocumented residents from the $1,200 stimulus payments given to taxpayers during the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a loss of $10 billion in potential economic output, a UCLA study has found. It also cost 82,000 jobs nationally and 17,000 jobs in California, according to the study, a collaboration among UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics InitiativeNorth American Integration and Development Center and Institute for Research on Labor and Employment. Undocumented workers and their families contributed more than $1.6 trillion to the nation’s gross domestic product in 2018 through shopping and workforce activities, and their reduced purchasing power amid a looming recession is both a public health and economic crisis, said Raul Hinojosa, an associate professor of Chicano studies and the report’s lead author. “It is cruel to deny undocumented residents financial assistance as unemployment rates skyrocket, but it’s also counterproductive fiscal policy that has negative consequences for all Americans who benefit from their economic contributions,” he said. The national unemployment rate for undocumented workers reached 29% in May, much higher than the rate for any other demographic group. The study found that the economic benefits of including undocumented workers in future relief efforts would outweigh the costs. The economic activity generated by undocumented immigrants spending the tax credits they would receive under the HEROES Act, currently being debated in Congress, would support 112,000 jobs nationally and produce $14 billion in economic output — which would far exceed the $9.5 billion price tag of including them in recovery efforts. — Eliza Moreno


Diaz on Re-Envisioning a Post-Coronavirus America

In a Q&A with Governing, Latino Policy and Politics Initiative Executive Director Sonja Diaz weighed in on the links between systemic racism and immigration policy and set out a vision for a more equitable post-pandemic society. COVID-19, police violence against people of color and persistent economic inequality have created an existential crisis in the United States, and “incremental change is not going to solve anything,” Diaz said. “We cannot go back to a ‘normal’ with so many Americans living on the streets, so many Americans without health insurance, so many Americans being targeted or racially profiled by our police. We have to re-envision what a post-coronavirus America looks like,” she said. Diaz also co-authored an opinion piece for Morning Consult that decried efforts to disenfranchise voters of color and called on Congress to act decisively to protect the integrity of the 2020 Census.

Bass, Castro Join Dialogue on Black-Brown Coalition-Building

Black and Latino advocates and elected officials explored ways that communities of color can build coalitions to transform the nation’s social and political landscape during a webinar hosted by UCLA’s Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI). Rep. Karen Bass, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Julián Castro, former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, spoke of the importance of finding common ground in an era when communities of color are bearing the brunt of COVID-19, police violence, joblessness, housing insecurity and disenfranchisement. “We have to never allow ourselves to be divided,” said Bass, who noted that Congress members of Black, Hispanic, Asian and Native American descent work in sync to craft a common agenda. Castro argued that real change requires lifting up the next generation of leaders. “What we need to do is be intentional about passing that baton on,” he said. Bass and Castro were joined by Genny Castillo of the Southern Economic Advancement Project and Jonathan Jayes-Green of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, who weighed in on barriers facing candidates of color. Politico reporter Laura Barrón-López moderated the July 22 dialogue. “What we’ve learned today is that Latinos have an important role to play in the Movement for Black Lives and really in protecting Black life,” LPPI Director Sonja Diaz said. “One thing is clear to me from this conversation. We can’t return to the old normal. And when we chart a path forward, especially in the streets and in chambers of power, we’ll only get stronger if we work together.”


LPPI Focuses on ‘Shaping a 21st Century Latino Agenda’

The Latino Policy and Politics Initiative’s release of an ambitious policy agenda to promote equity and opportunity for Latino communities nationwide received widespread media coverage. The 38-page document, titled Shaping a 21st Century Latino Agenda, was created after LPPI convened 80 prominent Latino leaders to discuss the biggest issues facing U.S. Latinos amid the coronavirus crisis. The agenda lays out recommendations for action on climate change, voting rights, health, immigrant rights, education, housing, criminal justice and economic opportunity. “Part of this exercise was really identifying ways that we can promote Black-brown unity but also identify ways that policy can actually include communities of color instead of leaving us further behind,” Sonja Diaz, LPPI’s founding executive director, told Fox40 News. Other news outlets covering the agenda’s release include the Sacramento Bee, Telemundo and Voice of San Diego.


Diaz on Lack of Latino Representation on Redistricting Commission

Sonja Diaz, founding director of the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI), was interviewed by Spectrum News 1 and Hecho en California about the early exclusion of Latinos on the state’s 2020 Citizens Redistricting Commission, which convenes every 10 years to draw new district lines. Latinos make up nearly 40% of California’s population, but none were included when the first eight members of this year’s commission were chosen through a randomized selection process. A Sacramento Bee opinion piece citing LPPI’s work on the issue noted that Latinos are chronically underrepresented in the redistricting process, from the number of applications submitted to the final slots provided to members of the community. “It’s really important as we think about how to rebuild and reopen our economy that Latinos have a seat at the table,” Diaz said, adding that she hopes the remaining six seats are filled by Latino voices or voices that recognize the needs of Latino political power.