Maryland Latinos Unidos
Maryland Nonprofits is proud to be the home of Maryland Latinos Unidos.
In response to the Coronavirus emergency and its disparate impact on Maryland’s Latino community, Maryland Latinos Unidos (MLU) was established in 2020 to unify efforts across the state to support all Latino and immigrant populations. Although the establishment of this organization was rooted in addressing emergency needs, our intention is to operate to reduce the various disparities and barriers affecting these communities.
Latinos have been impacted disproportionately by the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19). In April 2020, approximately 61% of Hispanics and 44% of Black Americans reported that they or someone in their household experienced job or wage loss because of COVID-19. Black and Hispanic workers are overrepresented in industries that are affected by social distancing mandates and stay-at-home orders, such as restaurants, retail, and construction, where Latino men make up more than 25% of construction workers.
Due to the economic impact of the virus, families are experiencing difficulties paying their monthly bills. In May 2020, 44% of Hispanics indicated they could not pay some of their bills or could only make partial payments. The pandemic has not only caused a health crisis but has also created an economic emergency.
On September 22, 2020, Maryland Latinos Unidos and Maryland Nonprofits presented COVID-19 and the Latino Community. This webinar featured a panel discussion with Latino community leaders and health experts who discussed why the Latino community is affected disproportionately by COVID-19.
COVID-19 and the Latino Community
Health Disparities: Maryland Latinos and immigrants are suffering disproportionately, exposing a flawed system.
Undocumented families are impacted at a greater rate than the general population. Many undocumented workers have been laid off, and others are classified as essential employees. Grocery store workers, agricultural laborers, meat processing plant employees, healthcare staff, and janitorial workers have risked their health and the health of their families during these uncertain times. Often, these brave workers are not equipped with adequate protective gear, yet they persevere, providing services the public needs.
Once infected, our immigrants, many of which are essential workers, are placed in an untenable situation. They lack health insurance and consequently many hesitate to seek appropriate care or decide to withgo it entirely. They also tend to live in close quarters, making effective quarantining impossible. In addition, fear instilled by the Federal Public Charge rule and limited healthcare access within communities of color and immigrants discourages community members from being tested and treated for COVID-19.
The health disparities can be identified clearly. In Maryland, the largest number of COVID-19 cases are found in zip codes with high populations of Black and Latino residents, many who are immigrants and/or undocumented.
Our undocumented immigrant community keeps the economy functioning, yet they have been excluded from federal financial relief and are ineligible for unemployment insurance. Many undocumented workers pay their taxes using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN). The IRS estimated that ITIN tax filers pay an estimated $9 billion in payroll taxes annually. In Maryland, undocumented residents contribute roughly $139 million in state, local, and sales taxes. As the economy collapses, the existing racial and ethnic inequalities will increase in severity.
Maryland's immigrant families need greater support.
Community leaders and institutions such as local food banks report that families are suffering from receiving little to no assistance. Moreover, assistance that is available from local organizations and nonprofits is operating at full capacity and under severe stress.
Maryland needs cohesive models of delivering direct services.
It is a matter of human dignity and basic decency that care is provided for our neighbors, whether they are native-born or immigrant, and regardless of their immigrant status. Maryland Latinos Unidos exists to call attention to these disparities and inequities, to find solutions, and to address these problems with coordinated action. MLU is not providing direct services – we are prioritizing capacity-building of our grassroots Hispanic-serving organizations to ensure that all Latinos access necessary services.
Maryland Latinos Unidos’ goal is to address issues of special concern to Maryland’s Latino and immigrant communities, including housing, food insecurity, educational access, healthcare, and economic opportunities. MLU seeks to identify and amplify the existing efforts that are operating to meet needs in localized areas, and to scale these up to statewide efforts.
Objective #1: Meeting urgent and immediate needs
- Identify community needs and implement solutions that can be replicated for various districts/counties
- Create a portal of resources (nonprofit, local, state, and federal) in English and Spanish, for the use of both the public and organizations and map available assets and resources
Objective #2: Building equitable infrastructure
- Track state legislation to advocate for issues that will uplift Latino communities
- Seek opportunities for Latino and immigrant representation in positions of leadership and across industries
- Track Greenbag vacancies and appointments
- Establish and maintain a relationship with the Governor’s office and state agencies to ensure language access
- Identify direct services models of local trusted organizations
- Guide and empower grassroots organizations that need capacity building and improved resources
Latino and non-Latino leaders are coming together to form this collective, which will be led by a Steering Committee/Board. In search of a starting point, Maryland Latinos Unidos has entered into an agreement with Maryland Nonprofits and will operate as one of the association’s programs.
To address the complex needs of Latino and immigrant communities across Maryland, MLU is determined and ready to serve. With help from partners of all industries and backgrounds, MLU will make the difference required for the well-being of our communities.
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