Donald Trump has used Latinos as a piñata from the very first day he launched his campaign. If you’re angry about drugs, crime, the economy—blame it on Latinos, Latinos, Latinos. They were a handy scapegoat to beat up on during rallies and speeches.
But with his budget, Trump takes the verbal abuse and puts it into policy terms. Under the proposed White House budget there are a ton of losers, but Hispanics will be among those hit the hardest.
Some of the pain aimed at Latinos is clear-cut. Under Trump’s budget plan, undocumented immigrants would no longer be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. Both of these tax credits represent $40 billion. Based on immigration numbers, the hardest hit would be Latinos.
Then there’s the close to five billion allocated to increased immigration security and enforcement. What this translates into is an even more aggressive pursuit of undocumented persons than we’ve seen in the first couple of months of the new administration. President Trump has no desire to fix a broken immigration system. What he wants are notches on his belt—how many immigrants can he rounded up and shipped off, DREAMers and law abiding immigrants be damned.
But let's be clear: Most Latinos are U.S. born or have legal status, and many families will fare very poorly under Trump's proposed budget. Though in general lower-income and disadvantaged Americans will be hurt, as a group Latinos have less income and are younger than the rest of the population.
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Let’s take the $800 billion cuts to Medicaid. Hispanics make up close to a third of Medicaid’s enrollment. There’s also a less obvious but equally hurtful impact from the Medicaid cuts—over 50 percent of Medicaid recipients are under the age of 18. A sizeable population of Latino children will be among those hardest hit from the Medicaid cuts.
Next on the chopping block are food stamps, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP). If President Trump were to have his way, $193 billion in SNAP funding would be slashed. In 2015 SNAP lifted 2.6 million Latinos out of poverty (half of those being children) and kept 1.5 million from deep poverty. Cutting SNAP does not just lead to more food insecurity and hunger; it would trigger a downward spiral of deeper poverty. Let's remember who uses food stamps: it's mostly the elderly, children and disabled Americans. And no, undocumented immigrant families don't get food stamps.
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President Trump’s proposed budget also cuts housing initiatives, workforce development programs, and funding for educational programs and school loans and educational programs. These aren’t core safety net programs like SNAP or Medicaid but they are programs that allow individuals to get a foothold on the ladder out of poverty. For example, in 2015 housing assistance kept 700,000 Latinos out of poverty.
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During the Great Recession Latinos were the hardest hit. And while they’ve seen improvement Hispanics have still not fully recovered. Latino income has stagnated since the Great Recession and poverty rates remain above pre-recession levels. Latinos have yet to recover from their Great Recession economic wounds and Trump’s plan would all but ensure that a full recovery doesn’t occur.
Perhaps it’s President Trump’s wealth and privilege that blinds him to poverty. Or perhaps it’s the idea that poverty is “a state of mind”, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson believes. Either way, Trump’s proposed budget is unnecessarily painful and ineffective for big chunks of society and especially for “The” Latinos.