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Why Latinos Must Support DC Statehood

As we Latinos capitalize on the current momentum focused on immigration reform, let’s not forget that those of us who reside in the District of Columbia (DC) should also strongly advocate in support of DC statehood.   Clearly the benefits that will accrue to all District of Columbia residents will also positively impact Latinos; specifically, voting representation and the power to decide how our tax generated revenues get spent.  We represent 9% (55,000) of all District Residents and as we grow, will become a greater proportion of the voting population in the District. Currently there are 22,000 Latino residents eligible to vote.    While there is a gap between those classified as eligible, and those registered to vote, it is clear that Hispanics are becoming more engaged in the political process as witness by the turn out in the 2012 presidential election.

Beyond the advantages that statehood brings to all DC Residents, Latinos have a particular interest in advocating for statehood.   We will be better poised to elicit and get support from non-Latino residents on issues that overwhelmingly affect Latinos such as immigration reform, bilingual education, services to undocumented students and workers. On a number of national issues, including immigration reform, a DC Congressional representative with voting power will more easily leverage support from his/her peers because the DC member will be armed with a bargaining chip that matters–a vote.

Similarly, dual language instruction (bilingual education) is a “win win” proposition for District residents with school age children.  There is a great demand for dual language education in the District of Columbia.   For non-Latinos dual language instruction is a proven strategy for learning another language.   For Latinos it is a means of preserving our heritage language and culture.   Having the power to decide how we spend our tax dollars means no longer being hostage to members of Congress that hold approval of the District budget for ideological reasons.  This can happen on a number of issues of importance to DC residents including bilingual education.  We already have evidence of Congressional interference with DC approved laws in the areas of gun control, abortion, vouchers, and medical marijuana.

We don’t know the particulars of the pending immigration legislative proposal, but it is likely that those that don’t have an immediate path to citizenship will need access to city services such as health care, housing, employment.   Control of our budget will enable the

city council and the Mayor to make decisions about what is fiscally reasonable to support and implement without Congressional interference.

Thus, let us join any or all of the following organizations actively involved in the statehood effort:  DC Vote, DC Statehood, and Stand Up for Democracy.   Our well-being is intricately tied to the success of this movement.

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About Julia Lara

Julia Lara is the president of J Lara Educational Consulting, LLC, a small company based in Washington DC. The company provides best practice research, program evaluations, training, report writing, meeting facilitation, and project management services. Prior to establishing a small business, she worked at the office of the Deputy Mayor for Education in the District of Columbia as the early childhood content specialist. She held various assignments at the Council of Chief State School officers (CCSSO) including Director of the Division of State Services and Technical Assistance center director, program director, and senior project associate. Ms. Lara has written extensively on matters related to the education of English Language Learners and students enrolled in low performing schools. She holds Master’s degree from Columbia University in New York City, and Doctorate degree from George Mason University, in Virginia.
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One response to “Why Latinos Must Support DC Statehood”

  1. Pedro Rubio says:

    I was born in DC, with all the benefits of being a US Citizen except one, the right of representation in Congress. I do believe statehood is achievable and I think it will happen with our generation. There is time in the life of every generation where they accept the challenge facing them ahead, Lincoln, Susan Anthony, Kennedy, MLK and Obama all brought change. Today, DC lacks leaders, and there is also a feeling of “waiting for Superman” that DC has. I like your article, it brings urgency and it speaks to the Hispanic community about our need for statehood.

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