How Trump Policies Impact Hispanics in the Workforce and DEI

Of all the different demographic groups in the United States, President Trump’s policies must have the most chilling effect on the Hispanic/Latino American community. Trump’s immigration plan are instilling fear in many Hispanic/Latino citizens – green card holders as well as undocumented immigrants – as they face the uncertainty of the future, including the possibility of family separation, and continued pressure in their job search. Due to the president’s hard stance on immigrants and the border issue, many have come to fear its negative impact on Hispanics in the workforce and DEI efforts in American society.

Research shows that these policies are affecting their faith life as well. America’s Hispanic churches feel the impact of President Donald Trump’s immigration initiatives in their pews each week. According to a report by Christianity Today, Trump’s immigration plan does away with earlier exemptions for residents here illegally, putting more undocumented workers up for arrest, detention, and deportation, the Department of Homeland Security announced last month.

Natalia Aristizabal, who works with Make the Road, a non-profit organization in New York dealing with Latino and working-class communities, said in an interview with Aljazeera that undocumented immigrants are “yearning to fight back. Our basic model right now is that we’re here to stay and we’re not going to go out without a fight.”

Arizitzabal noted that resistance is strongest among so-called Dreamers; unauthorized youth who were brought to the US as children, some of whom were granted temporary relief from deportation under President Barack Obama. “Those are the folks I hear even more of a defiant tone of I’m not going anywhere,” she said.

Facts About Hispanic Immigrants & Their Contributions to the U.S. Economy

A Pew Research Center analysis of occupational profiles as of 2012 revealed that  the U.S. unauthorized immigrant workforce now holds fewer blue-collar jobs and more white-collar ones than it did before the 2007-2009 recession, but a solid majority still work in low-skilled service, construction, and production occupations.

A comparison between unauthorized immigrants and US-born workers, also by Pew Research, found disparities: In 2012, fully a third of U.S. unauthorized immigrants in the workforce (33%) held service jobs such as janitor, child care worker or cook – nearly double the share of U.S.-born workers (17%) in those types of occupations. An additional 15% hold construction or extraction jobs (mainly construction), triple the share of U.S.-born workers who hold that type of employment. Overall, 11%, compared with 6% of U.S.-born workers, are employed in production jobs, which include manufacturing, food processing and textile workers, among others.

To see how significant immigrants, specifically from Latin America, impact America’s economy, here are some figures gathered by the Migration Policy Institute:

  • In 2015, approximately 27% of immigrants in the US were from Mexico, which made them the largest foreign-born group in the country. 
  • In 2015, 19.5 million people or 45 % of immigrants said they were of Hispanic or Latino origins.
  • While the majority of U.S. Hispanics are native born, 35 % of the 56.6 million people in 2015 who self-identified as Hispanic or Latino were immigrants. 
  • Most Mexican immigrants are in the West and Southwest, and more than half are in California or Texas. 
  • In 2015, about 69% of the 11.2 million immigrants from Mexico 16 years and older were in the civilian workforce. 
  • From 2010-14, most unauthorized immigrants in the US came from Mexico and Central America, with an estimated number (by MPI) of 7.9 million people, or 71% of the overall unauthorized population.

More facts on immigrants from Mexico, from a Pew Research survey

  • There has been a drop by 1 million in the number of illegal immigrants from Mexico since 2007, but even with the decline, Mexicans still make up about half of the nation’s 11.1 million unauthorized immigrants (52% in 2014). 
  • Mexican illegal immigrants are more likely to become long-term residents – but with the Trump administration’s crackdown on illegal staying aliens, this would no longer be the case. 
  • At least 75% of the total unauthorized immigrant population in three states are from Mexico:
    • New Mexico – 91% 
    • Idaho – 87% 
    • Arizona – 81%

With their sheer population size, there will be a big dent in occupations normally held by unauthorized Hispanic/Latino immigrants if they are to be deported.

Adverse Effect of Immigrant Deportation

According to one expert’s view (Kent Smetters, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy), deportation of illegal immigrants will not result in more job opportunities for native-born workers. Trump’s plan assumes that if these workers were deported, native-born workers would take over these jobs.

“That’s just simply not empirically true,” Smetters says. “When you export undocumented workers, those [typically low-skilled] jobs really aren’t replaced by native born workers,” but by automation. Moreover, the presence of undocumented workers raises the wages of those who can legally work in the U.S.

Other analysts are of the same view that mass deportation of illegal immigrants will hurt the economy even more: 

  • According to the Center for American Progress., it would immediately reduce the nation’s GDP by 1.4 percent, and ultimately by 2.6 percent, and also reduce cumulative GDP over 10 years by $4.7 trillion, 
  • The agriculture and construction industries would suffer in case of widespread deportation. 
  • Deportation would cost the federal government between $103.9 billion and $303.7 billion.

On the other hand, some do believe allowing illegal immigrants to stay is an economic burden, in ways such as lowering wages, putting financial strain on the federal, state and local levels of government, and burdening law enforcement and local school districts, among other reasons.

Facts About U.S. Hispanics in the Workforce

The great American Dream is often invoked by people coming to the United States seeking greener pastures. But also, many immigrants from Mexico and Latin America only want to escape the dire conditions in their home countries: poverty, drugs, and political instability. They see the United States as a promised land with plenty of job opportunities.

On the average, Hispanics/Latinos, together with blacks, have a higher unemployment rate than whites and Asians. For example, the average unemployment rates from January 2000 to December 2016 for blacks and Hispanics were substantially greater than those for either non-Hispanic whites or Asians. 

Even with the same level of educational attainment with whites and Asians, Hispanics and Latinos still have a far greater unemployment rate.For the month of February 2017 the BLS report on the employment situation for Hispanic/Latin Americans, shows minimal decrease of .3% in the unemployment rate, from 5.9% in January to 5.6%. 

Problems such as limited job opportunities and long-term unemployment still face Hispanics/Latinos. Here is an overview of their employment situation, in statistics from January 2017

  • 5.9% unemployment rate, remaining above the national unemployment rate of 4.8%  
  • 66.1 Hispanic participation rate, compared with the 62.9% national participation rate  
  • 1 out of 5 Hispanics were looking for work for more than 27 weeks  
  • 7.81% Hispanic millennial unemployment rate 
  • 1.10 million Hispanics were forced into part-time jobs

According to this report, one of the long-term problems in the economy has been a lack of entry-level opportunities, as government regulations and mandates make it costlier and more difficult for small businesses to hire new staff. These opportunities are often critical for Latinos, and for workers who need to acquire and develop new skills.

Immigrants contribute a lot to America’s progress, including the illegal ones. The Center for American Progress, in a report made last year, noted the positive effect of immigrants on the business community and the country’s economy. Although immigrants’ economic contributions are significant, they could be even greater. If Congress enacts a legislative reform that includes a pathway to citizenship, then more unauthorized immigrants could participate in the formal economy. 

The Importance and Benefits of DEI for Hispanics in the Workforce

Integrating undocumented immigrants via a comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to full and equal citizenship was a measure supported by then presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. If the present administration pushes harder on its hard stance on illegal immigrants, then there’s more to lose. 

As noted in an article by The Nation, undocumented immigrants contribute more than $11 billion to the economy each year, and it is more beneficial to grant them a means to become permanent residents. Though they would pay more taxes, it’s estimated that many of the undocumented workers would willingly get “on the books” if it meant shielding their families from deportation. 

There’s an immeasurable benefit to keeping families intact instead of tearing them apart through deportation and detention. More importantly, immigrants contribute much to the diversity of the country, and there is strength in diversity. As Hispanic/Latino immigrants form a large part of the US population, they have economic and political power.

It is hoped the Trump administration policies focus more on how to keep leveraging the gains already being realized from Hispanics in the workforce and recognize how important Hispanics and Latinos are to the American economy and society.

It is hoped the Trump administration policies focus more on how to keep leveraging the gains already being realized from this important segment of the American society.