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Census 2020 and Its Impact on Los Angeles Experts and community organizers discuss a potential citizenship question on the U.S. Census and how to prevent undercounts in minority communities

By Gabriela Solis

With the next U.S. Census in 2020 drawing near, political and community leaders are working now to plan strategically and ensure that all communities are accurately counted in Los Angeles.

With that in mind, a recent panel discussion hosted by Sonja Diaz, executive director of the Latino Policy and Politics Initiative (LPPI), focused on issues related to the 2020 Census.

The Trump administration has pushed to add a question about respondents’ citizenship status to the 2020 Census, and accurate counts of communities across Los Angeles are threatened, many experts say. According to research by UCLA Professor Matt Barreto, 69.9 percent of Latinos, 39.4 of blacks and 99.9 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders expressed concern that the citizenship question would lead to their immigration status being shared with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“Community groups need to prepare … With or without a citizenship question, there will remain major concerns and fear among our communities,” Barreto told a crowd on the UCLA campus during an April 24 panel discussion about the Census.

Barreto, who is faculty co-director of LPPI, and other experts have noted that billions of dollars in federal program funding is at stake. The Census also determines the number of representatives for each state in the U.S. House, so an undercount could cost California some political clout.

To ensure this does not happen, community organizations can play a vital role.

Erica Bernal-Martinez is chief operating officer of the National Association of Latino Elected Official (NALEO) Educational Fund, the nation’s leading nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that facilitates full Latino participation in the American political process. Even without a citizenship question, Bernal-Martinez said, many vulnerable communities are often undercounted.

Members of Bernal-Martinez’s organization work closely with community leaders across the United States in an effort dubbed Get Out the Count. This year, children are one of the campaign’s focuses, because “400,000 Latino children were not counted in the 2010 census,” she said.

Los Angeles County represents a fourth of the state’s population, and it is one of California’s hardest-to-count regions, particularly within the county’s most diverse neighborhoods in central and east Los Angeles, and south to Compton. But there are best practices that can increase participation even in communities that often have low civic engagement.

For example, Berenice Nuñez, vice president of government relations at Altamed, shared her agency’s tactic to promote election participation in communities with low-propensity voters. Altamed is the largest federally qualified health center in California, and the organization produced an innovative voter mobilization campaign aimed to inform, empower and mobilize their patients and employees during the November 2018 midterm elections.

The campaign included such strategies as canvassing, registering legal residents to vote, distributing bilingual voter guides, sending phone messages about upcoming elections while patients were on hold, and providing transportation assistance on Election Day.

An analysis conducted by LPPI of Altamed’s campaign found remarkable success for the strategy. The Latino vote increased by 432 percent in South Gate and 330 percent in Boyle Heights, which were two targeted communities.

“I challenge you to join us at the table to make sure our communities are counted,” said Nuñez, who encouraged community leaders in attendance at a UCLA event in April to use the Altamed campaign as a model for future elections — and to ensure participation in minority communities during the 2020 U.S. Census.

Older Adults, Minorities Will Redefine ‘the Next America,’ Writes Torres-Gil

A commentary on the changing demographics of older adults and minorities in the United States, co-authored by Professor of Social Welfare and Public Policy Juan Fernando Torres-Gil, was published in the Dallas Morning News. Torres-Gil and co-author Jacqueline L. Angel, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, caution lawmakers on both sides of the aisle that these changes will redefine “the next America” in important ways. “By 2050, the United States will be driven by two demographics, majority-minority and older people,” wrote Torres-Gil and Angel. “This dynamic of twin demographic trends — a doubling of the older population and minorities and immigrants becoming the majority — will create political competition between older whites and younger racial and ethnic groups over scarce public resources, such as taxes to preserve Social Security versus reinvesting in public education,” added the co-authors of the recently published book, “the Politics of a Majority-Minority Nation: Aging, Diversity, and Immigration.”


 

Study of Tobacco, Cannabis Use by LGBT Young Adults

Ian Holloway

UCLA Luskin Social Welfare’s Ian Holloway has received word that another of his research proposals has been selected for funding. The study, “Tobacco and Cannabis Product Use Among Subgroups of Sexual and Gender Minority Emerging Adults,” will examine trajectories of tobacco and cannabis use among sexual and gender minority young people. Previous studies of tobacco products showed higher frequency of use within LGBT communities, but less is known about specific subgroups of LGBT people or their use of cannabis. Holloway, an associate professor, said the research is timely in the wake of California’s legalization of marijuana and other cannabis products in 2016, and he was happy to learn of the funding by the California Tobacco Related Disease Research Program during the month of June, which is Gay Pride month. “This funding will help us better understand tobacco and cannabis-related health disparities among LGBT young people, which is crucial to improve both short-term and long-term health in LGBT communities” Holloway said. The award amount of $400,000 will fund research in two phases, with initial results expected in about a year. Phase I will consist of qualitative interviews about tobacco and cannabis initiation and progression with LGBT tobacco users ages 18-29 in Los Angeles. In Phase II, 1,000 LGBT young people across California will participate in an online survey about their frequency and intensity of tobacco and cannabis product use. The research will be completed in partnership with the Los Angeles LGBT Center.

Watts Leadership Institute Hosts Visit by Elementary School Students

More than 45 students from Florence Griffith Joyner Elementary School in Watts spent the afternoon of Feb. 7, 2018, touring the UCLA campus thanks to the efforts of the UCLA Luskin-based Watts Leadership Institute (WLI) and GRoW@Annenberg. The daylong adventure for the students —  known as “Keepers of the Dream” — was organized by Mike Cummings, also known as “Big Mike” or “Pastor Mike,” who is the executive director of We Care Outreach Ministries and a member of the first leadership cohort for WLI. The students started the day by visiting the middle school and high school they will attend, then traveled to UCLA, where they had lunch in the Covel Commons. The UCLA “Cub” tour, which began at the Bruin statue in the heart of the campus, was coordinated Melanie Edmond, principal of Joyner Elementary School. The group also met with Jorja Leap ’78 MSW ’80 PhD ‘88, adjunct professor of social welfare and co-founder of WLI, a 10-year initiative to build a legacy of indigenous leaders and community empowerment in Watts. Karrah Lompa MSW ’13, co-founder of the Watts Leadership Institute, also participated. She said the inspiration and sponsorship of the program by GRoW@Annenberg, a philanthropic initiative led by Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, vice president and director of the Annenberg Foundation, has been instrumental to their efforts.

View a Flickr album of images from the students’ visit to UCLA:

Watts Institute Visits UCLA

2018 Activists-in-Residence Welcomed at Reception

The Institute on Inequality and Democracy (II&D) at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs and the UCLA Asian American Studies Center welcomed Manuel Criollo and Yvonne Yen Liu as the 2018 UCLA Activist-in-Residence Fellows during a reception held Jan. 11, 2018, at the UCLA Luskin Commons. Criollo is the Irvine Fellow on Urban Life and Liu is the UCLA Asian American Studies Center Fellow for the Winter Quarter. “Manuel Criollo is a legend in the activist and community organizing worlds of Los Angeles,” Ananya Roy, director of  II&D and professor of urban planning, social welfare and geography, told the audience of students, faculty and community partners at the standing-room-only reception. “He has not only tackled urgent racial justice issues but has also built networks of leadership that can in turn build power.” The Activist-in-Residence Program was developed by the two research centers to recognize the work of individuals working on community-led social change and to build stronger links between UCLA and the community. Fellows are encouraged to pursue research or reflect on their community work to advance racial, social and economic equity, as well as encouraging UCLA students to develop or strengthen their own commitment to social justice. During his residency, Criollo will research and document the formation of the Los Angeles School Police Department, create a timeline of community struggles against school policing, and organize an organizers exchange on UCLA’s campus. Liu will explore the history of solidarity economies in the Asian American immigrant and refugee experience to guide future community economic development and forge collective economic agency.

View a Flickr album from the reception:

2018 Activist-in-Residence Reception