On Monday morning, Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg announced the release of a new campaign white paper that outlines what he says is a comprehensive plan to address the needs of the U.S. Latino community, projected to become the country’s largest ethnic group in the 2020 election.
“The Latino community is an integral force in pushing our nation toward achieving inclusive, progressive ideals. In so many ways, members of the Latino community uphold and embody the values that make us American,” Buttigieg said in a media release shared by his campaign.
“Despite these contributions, Latinos have been subjected to relentless and bigoted attacks by this President and his administration,” Buttigieg added. “Whether it is the disenfranchisement of the people of Puerto Rico or Latino neighborhoods denied access to clean air and water, Latinos in the United States have been burdened for too long by a legacy of systemic discrimination. As President, I will put an end to this administration’s discriminatory policies and work to dismantle the institutional barriers that have denied Latinos the opportunity to belong in their country.”
Called “El Pueblo Unido/A People United: A New Era for Latinos,” the white paper addresses an array of issues—from the economy, education, housing, health care, the environment, immigration, Puerto Rico and the call to make a national museum of the American Latino a permanent reality.
“There are countless ways to measure the rebirth of my hometown of South Bend, but one of the most delicious signs is the growth of La Rosita ice cream shop on Western Avenue,” Buttigieg writes at the start of the white paper. “After immigrating from Mexico to Chicago, Rosalina and Juan Cervera found their way to South Bend, intending to start a restaurant. They wound up opening a paleteria that has become a vibrant community gathering place on the west side, emblematic of the vital role that South Bend’s Latino community has played in the life of our city. And that, in turn, is a microcosm of the essential role the Latino community holds in American society.”
“As the largest ethnic group in America, Latinos are a key part of the economic engine for our country. They are 50 percent more likely to start a business than their white counterparts, and Latino-owned companies grow faster than companies owned by other groups,” the white paper continues.
A few paragraphs into the introduction, the white paper calls the August massacre in El Paso “an act of terrorism.”
“Despite these contributions, Latinos have been subjected to relentless and bigoted attacks by this President and his administration. A man who launched his campaign slurring Mexican immigrants and questioning the impartiality of a Mexican-American judge has since unleashed a crude crusade of cruelty and harassment, and inspired others to do the same,” the white paper says. “Emboldened by this officially-sanctioned prejudice, hate crimes against Latinos soared by more than 20 percent last year. And most devastatingly, in August, the Latino community was targeted and attacked when a gunman murdered 22 people in an El Paso Walmart. This act of terrorism continues to haunt Latinos throughout the country.”
The white paper’s introduction concludes with this paragraph:
“From the farmworkers in Delano to local business owners today, Americans have rallied to declare el pueblo unido, jamás será vencido—the people united, will never be defeated. To meet this moment, it is up to us to unify as a people to ensure that the next era is one where all Latinos feel they are empowered and know that they belong.”
The following is a summary of the white paper:
The release of the Monday white paper comes three days before the next Democratic debate is scheduled for this Thursday in Los Angeles, the metro area with the largest Latino population in the United States. According to Pew, 77% of the Latino population in the Los Angeles metro is of Mexican descent. Buttigieg’s new white paper, however, mentions Mexico only once (on the first page only) and does not share any specific campaign positions about Mexico, while mentioning Puerto Rico more than 10 times and sharing several campaign positions. The white paper also makes no other mention of any other Latin American country, and does not include any specific campaign position about the recent protest movements in Latin America.
“It is for this reason that our campaign has woven policies to support and empower the Latino community throughout the plans we have released. Now, we are committing to do even more,” the white paper says before listing an initial set of campaign positions.
When it comes to the island territory, Buttigieg’s white paper supports a push to “provide political representation for Puerto Rico,“ saying that “Puerto Rico should have immediate representation in the Electoral College, and if the people of Puerto Rico want statehood, that should be welcomed. We saw the consequences of Puerto Rico’s disenfranchisement with this administration’s disastrous denial of aid after Hurricane Maria.
Other positions regarding Puerto Rico include the elimination of disparities in Medicaid funding.
“Currently, Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program receives block grants that are insufficient in addressing the Medicaid population’s need. Pete will fully fund Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program just as it funds programs for states,” the white paper says.
The white paper notes that it would “create a Disaster Preparedness Commission” as part a Buttigieg administration’s first 100 days.
“He will gather relevant federal agency heads and local, state, and community leaders to review and make recommendations to streamline access to disaster relief,“ the white paper notes. “This Commission will pay particular attention to island and coastal regions, including Florida and Puerto Rico.”
There is no specific campaign white paper position about Puerto Rico’s debt crisis.
Although the Buttigieg campaign said that it plans to release a more detailed immigration plan soon, the Monday white paper did include some positions on immigration. Here are just some of those positions:
“Create a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented people living in the United States who call this country home. Undocumented people are Americans in every way except one—they are not citizens and often have no pathway to citizenship. Pete will support legislation that provides a mechanism to legal status and ultimately citizenship. This path would also be available for people with temporary protections—such as DACA and Temporary Protected Status (TPS)—who have lived here for decades. While working on a necessary legislative fix, Pete will restore and extend temporary DACA and TPS protections rescinded by the current administration.”
“Accelerate reunification of families. Pete will reduce the backlog of family-based visas and increase the number of visas issued for family reunification each year. He also re-classify spouses and children of permanent residents as immediate relatives, eliminate discriminatory annual per- country caps, and recognize same-sex partners from countries lacking marriage equality.”
“Update the list of removable offenses. The list is extensive, outdated, overly harsh, and inconsistent with criminal justice reforms. If someone is a genuine public safety threat, they certainly will receive due process and face the possibility of removal, but the current list does not serve this interest. Pete will update this list and apply its changes retroactively. He will also support substantiating the right to counsel for people in removal proceedings by supporting pilot programs like the New York Immigrant Family Unity Project.”
The white paper noted that a Buttigieg campaign would invest “$10 billion in federal capital to establish a fund for entrepreneurs from underserved communities, including Latino business owners.”
It would plan to “expand worker protections for farm workers, domestic workers, and gig workers —all disproportionately Latino— and guarantee them labor rights, including unionization.“ It would “support Latino families through universal child care, guaranteeing that all working Latinos have access to 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave, and ensuring Latinos can retire with dignity” and “expand access to the ballot, combat voter suppression, and make right any harms caused by a politicized Census count.”
Buttigieg also called to “support an environmental equity approach to policy-making that considers the impact of all policies on the health of Latino communities, and invest in access to clean air and water.”
“On average, Latino children breathe more poisonous air than white children,” the white paper notes. “Latino families are twice as likely as white households to have no indoor plumbing, especially in areas like the Texas border and Puerto Rico. Given these structural barriers to good health, how can one stay healthy?”
“To this end, Pete will apply an unprecedented health equity and environmental justice lens across federal policies and programs. He will establish Offices of Health Equity and Justice within relevant federal agencies, including those that oversee programs related to the social determinants of health,” the white paper adds.
In the area of education, where he placed an emphasis on early education funding, Buttigieg said he would “expand access to bilingual early education programs to serve students from a range of language backgrounds, and treat bilingualism as the asset that it is.”
The complete 20-page white paper can accessed here:
Latest polling shows Buttigieg with very little support from Latino voters. A Politico story from late November noted that “Buttigieg has consistently polled in the low to mid-single-digits among Latinos. In a Fox News poll of Nevada released earlier this month, he had 1 percent support among Latinos, while Sanders led with 31 percent and Biden 24 had percent. A Telemundo poll found Buttigieg at 1 percent support among Latinos in Clark County, Nevada, home to Las Vegas. Nationally, Buttigieg drew 5 percent among Hispanics nationally in a recent Morning Consult poll.”