Friday, November 15, 2019

Comentarios from Maria: Millions of Latinos Affected by Government Shutdown

Maria-CNN-HeadshotAt midnight, on Monday September 30, the government started a partial government shutdown. Thanks to a small group of extremists of the Republican Party, millions of Latinos are being affected.

If the government shutdown continues, thousands of Latinos could lose their jobs, and benefits from various government agencies could potentially be taken away.

For example, hundreds of thousands of federal workers have already been sent to their homes without pay. This includes medical researchers, national park rangers and civilian employees working for the armed forces. A report by The U.S. Office of Personnel Management, estimated that by the end of the 2011 fiscal year, there were 157,693 Latinos who were employed by the federal government, equivalent to 8.1 percent of the nation’s labor force.

Veterans of the armed forces could also be affected if the government continues the shutdown through the month of November, as Veterans benefits are provided through mandatory financial appropriations, and that funding allowance expires at the end of October. Of the estimated 21 million 800 thousand veterans, about 1 million 200 thousand are Latinos, according to the Census Bureau.

The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, has also been affected as a result of the government closing. This program is vital to the welfare of our community, providing access to food, formula, nutritional education, breast-feeding support, and health-care referrals to 9 million low income mothers, babies, and children. Of the 9 million, 45% of them are Latino.

Federal health agencies are also feeling the negative effects of the government shutdown. A long lasting shutdown will cause the National Institutes of Health to deny health care to patients, who are in hopes of being cared for by their safety net hospitals.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also being drastically impacted, as they have been sending researches and workers, who study and track disease, home. In addition, the organization had to suspend its outreach campaign to inform people about different disease outbreaks and the importance of getting vaccinated.

The truth is that the absence of this campaign could become extremely dangerous, as thousands of Latinos depend on this campaign to learn about the importance of getting vaccinated.

And to top it off, Latino small business entrepreneurs are also feeling the effects of the government closing. Applications for small business loans have been suspended due to the irresponsibility of House Republicans.

With more than 3.2 million Latino-owned businesses, which contribute over 468 billion dollars to the local economy, this could become a catastrophe that could hurt a large part of the economic sector.

As the government continues its shutdown, more and more Latinos will become affected.

It is unfair to our community and the rest of the American people, to be victims of the arrogance and intransigency of the GOP extremists.

It is disappointing that a group of party extremists are able to cause such magnitude of problems just by a quirk of trying to kill Obamacare, a law that was passed by Congress more than three years ago, was declared constitutional by the Supreme Court, and when the President Obama was elected in 2012, voters clearly said they wanted to implement the health care law as it was one of the biggest issues discussed during the campaign. Furthermore, Obamacare is giving 10 million Latinos health coverage that they would have otherwise not been able to have access to.

With hundreds of thousands of people deeply impacted by this shutdown, it’s time to play politics with jobs, health benefits and with the thousands of people in our community.

If the GOP wants to continue in Congress, and maybe one day enter the White House, they must approve a clean budget that allows the government to keep running.

They must change their priorities, or else they can expect a very bleak political future.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.