Happy Anniversary Social Security!

By Renato Rocha, Policy Analyst, Economic Policy, UnidosUS

Today we celebrate the 82nd anniversary of Social Security––one of the most successful antipoverty programs in our nation’s history. Signed into law on August 14, 1935, the Social Security Act established financial protection for American workers, today offering retirement, disability, and survivor benefits to more than 60 million people.

Social Security benefits are especially important for the Latino community. In 2015 alone, income from Social Security kept 2.8 million Latinos out of poverty. This importance is even more pronounced when examining the strong anti-poverty effect of Social Security on the oldest and youngest beneficiaries from our community:

  • More than half of elderly Latinos would be poor without Social Security. Social Security benefits lift 1.2 million elderly Latinos out of poverty. With Social Security benefits, 24% of elderly Latinos have incomes below the poverty threshold. The number of Latinos ages 65 and older living in poverty would rise to over half, at 57%, without this income.

Social Security Significantly Cuts Poverty Among Latino Seniors

Source: UnidosUS analysis of 2016 data from Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement & Supplemental Poverty Measure public use file.

  • Social Security lifted an estimated 372,000 Latino children out of poverty. Without Social Security benefits, the Latino child poverty rate would have been two percentage points higher at 26% in 2015. Latino children accounted for nearly one in four children lifted out of poverty by Social Security.

Social Security's Anti-Poverty Effect on Children, 2015

Source: UnidosUS analysis of 2016 data from Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement & Supplemental Poverty Measure public use file.

Given the importance of Social Security for elderly Latinos, as well as for Latino children and their families, it is no surprise that a 2016 UnidosUS poll found that Social Security’s future is a top concern for Latino voters. Seventy-three percent of Latino voters said they were worried that Social Security will not be around when they retire. Latino millennial voters (18-35 years old) are particularly concerned: 87% of millennial voters worry about the longevity of the program.

Many Latino households have seen first-hand the importance of Social Security benefits for the community––most Latino retirees (52%) rely on Social Security for at least 90% of their income, compared to 32% of White retirees. Social Security has become critical to Hispanic economic security for a number of factors: Latino workers receive lower lifetime earnings, have higher rates of disability, and are less likely to work for an employer that offers an employer-sponsored retirement plan. To illustrate the latter point, 62% of Latinos work for an employer that does not offer a retirement plan, compared to just 37% of Whites who do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. Saving through an employer plan is an effective means of saving for retirement, but many Latino workers do not have access to this opportunity.

In an effort to improve the retirement readiness of our nation’s working families, cities and states have begun to pursue their own retirement plans that workers can access regardless of where they are employed. Such efforts to expand retirement saving opportunities should be protected and make sense for the millions of workers who do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement account. Opportunities to save for a secure retirement are few and far between, especially for many American households who continue to live paycheck to paycheck. As we celebrate its 82nd anniversary, Social Security now more than ever is a critical pillar in our nation’s social safety net.

The TPSeano Series: Saving TPS and the Quarter of a Million “TPSeanos” Living in Our Communities

Today, more than 250,000 TPSeanos from Central American are at risk of losing their protected status. In the next five months, the Trump administration will be making decisions on the future of temporary protected statues, or TPS, designations for the Central American countries. There is no official position by the administration with respect to the future of TPS designation for these countries, but recent remarks by senior officials do not bode well for the continued long-term future of protected status for these countries, even though major violence and human rights violations associated with civil strife in their home countries make it unsafe for them to return.

TPS beneficiaries are integral members of our communities. According to a July 2017 report by the Center for Migration Studies (CMS), TPS beneficiaries from the three largest TPS countries by population have an estimated 273,000 U.S.-born children, and 10% of Salvadoran and 6% Honduran TPS beneficiaries are married to legal residents. The report also finds that 87% of the TPS population from these countries speaks at least some English, and slightly over half speak English well, very well, or only English.

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The TPSeano Series: What Is Temporary Protected Status?

In the month headed into Congress’s August recess, much of the attention in the immigration space has been correctly focused on protecting the DACA policy that shields nearly 800,000 youth from deportation, pushing back on the Trump budget proposal, which would take funding for deportations to unprecedented levels, and picking up the pieces from the painful effects and consequences of the ramped-up interior enforcement on predominantly Latino immigrant families. Not to be lost in the shuffle, however, is another very important issue percolating in the not-too-distant background. Within the next six months, the Trump administration will be making decisions on the future of temporary protected status (TPS) designations that could impact over a quarter of a million Latinos from Central America, some of whom have been residing in the United States for nearly 20 years.

TPS is a humanitarian tool established by legislation giving the executive branch a way to provide temporary status to some of the most vulnerable populations in the country. Under TPS, people already residing in the United States may be designated for protection due to an ongoing armed conflict, natural disaster, or presence of extraordinary and temporary condition in their country of origin. TPS beneficiaries are eligible to work legally in the country and may apply to travel abroad for so long as the U.S. government determines that protected status continues to be warranted—a decision that is typically assessed 18 months after an initial designation or a preceding TPS extension.

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How the Latino Community Can Remain a Political and Economic Force

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) represents Phoenix in Congress and was a special guest of ours at our recent 2017 Annual Conference. Congressman Gallego spoke eloquently about the impact Latinos have on the United States. He asserted that as a community, we have now arrived as political and economic forces. Our next challenge is how we will remain as such. Rep. Gallego believes that we must empower millennial and younger generations to fight back relentlessly to reshape the political climate in our country.

Watch his full remarks below:

La fibra en las frutas y en las verduras

Los mercados al aire libre y las granjas locales en agosto son todo un espectáculo visual, donde se encuentran jugosos melocotones, ejotes frescos, tomates maduros y elotes. Estas frescas y deliciosas frutas y verduras –que están siendo celebradas durante el National Farmers Market Week- ayudan a prevenir el aumento de peso, reducen el riesgo de enfermedades crónicas, y además aumentan la energía y la salud del corazón. Por eso, deberíamos de comer cinco o más porciones al día. Como parte del programa de UnidosUS (anteriormente NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés) Comprando Rico y Sano, trabajadores de la salud de la comunidad, llamados promotores de salud, están ayudando a las personas a comer más frutas y verduras. En sus charlas nutritivas ofrecen tips para comprar más sano en los mercados al aire libre y en el supermercado.

La mayoría de nosotros sabemos que las frutas y las verduras son nutritivas, libres de colesterol, y naturalmente bajas en grasas y calorías. También son una buena fuente de fibra, la cual ayuda a mantener los niveles de energía y hacen que las personas se sientan llenas durante un largo período de tiempo con menos calorías. La fibra también juega un papel importante ya que baja los niveles de colesterol y regula nuestro sistema digestivo. Es fundamental comer suficiente fibra dado a que previene el aumento de peso o el adelgazamiento, reduce el riesgo de enfermedades cardíacas, diabetes y algunos tipos de cáncer.

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