Latino People in the U.S. and in the DC Area:

Communities Replete with Under-recognized and Under-utilized Assets

Latinos are Diverse
  • Latinos come from at least 20 countries from Center and South America with different history, social and politic organization, climates, environment, and ways of living.
  • Although the Latino community is heterogeneous and in constant flux it shares a strong sense of cultural identity and Spanish remains a common unifying bond.
  • Many Latinos have a past rooted in the United States for several generations while others are recent arrivals. Most of them arrived seeking  the American Dream and want to become fully contributing and integrated members of the society.
The Latino Community’s Values
  • The Latino community wants to preserve their unique cultural heritage identity and in most cases the Spanish language.
  • Shared personal or family experiences of immigration are part of the Latino identity.
  • Latinos are entrepreneurs, have a strong work ethic, and seek to be financially self-sufficient, own a home, have their family living in a safe environment, have access to a good education for their children, and lead a fruitful life.
  • Latinos tend to have strong family values expressed by strong feelings of reciprocity and solidarity. The Latino vision is collective – not individual – and people-centered. Friendship is appreciated.
Latinos’ contributions to the United States:
  • Latinos contribute to the Social Security system.
    • In the next 50 years, new documented immigrants in the United States will provide a net benefit of $407 billion in present value to the Social Security system (National Foundation for American Policy, 2005).
  • Latinos represent a net fiscal benefit to the United States’ economy as they pay more in taxes than they consume (Urban Institute2006)
  • The average immigrant in the United States pays nearly $1,800 more in taxes than he or she costs in benefits (National Research Council, 1997).
  • Latinos have an enormous potential to fuel the local economy through purchasing power and taxes paid.
    • Latinos play an important role in creating new  business and carry the highest growth in startups, revenue growth, and service to a thriving community (Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 2007)
    • Immigrant households paid nearly $10 billion in 1999-2000 taxes, nearly 18% of all taxes paid in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.  This percentage (18%) reflects the proportion of Latinos in the population residing in this geographic area (Urban Institute, 2006).
Win-Win Opportunities
Health Field
  • The Latino community is comprised of many highly trained and experienced health professionals who, although not licensed to practice yet in the United States, present a great potential in providing culturally and linguistically competent health services.  Immigrant medical doctors, nurses, and other healthcare specialists frequently deliver care to underserved populations.  They play a critical role by filling gaps in the United States’ healthcare system.
Spanish-Language Media
  • At a community level, well developed Spanish-language newspapers, radio, and television have wide audiences and the potential to facilitate the flow of health information through the community.
Faith-Based Organizations
  • Churches with large Latino congregations tend to play a strong supportive role for their members, one that goes far beyond religious and spiritual care, such as health education, English classes, and citizenship classes, among others.
Community-Based Organizations
  • Several Latino community-based organizations are culturally and linguistically competent and are in a unique position to deliver services as a result of the high levels of trust they have secured from the Latino community over time.
Trusted Community Leaders
  • The presence of familiar and influential Latino leaders in the community represents fruitful potential for expanding Latino participation in social and political arenas.


  1. American Immigration Law Foundation, Immigration Policy Center, Health Worker Shortages and the Potential for Immigration Policy, Immigration Policy In Focus, Volume 3, Issue 1, 2004
  2. American Immigration Law Foundation, Immigration Policy Center, Making a Difference in America: Immigrants Continue to Benefit our Nation, Volume 1. Issue 1, 2002.
  3. Anderson S.  The Contribution of Legal Immigration to the Social Security System, National Foundation for American Policy, 2005.
  4. Civic Contributions: Taxes Paid by Immigrants in the Washington, DC, Metropolitan Area, 2006.  Randy Capps, Everett Henderson, The Urban Institute.  Jeffrey S. Passel, Pew Hispanic Center.  Michael Fix, Migration Policy Institute.  The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.
  5. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Budget and Legislative Priorities, 2007.
  6. House Joint Resolution
  7. Migration Policy Institute, MPI Data Hub.  Migration Facts, Stats, and Maps.
  8. American Dream Makers, Facts and Opinions about L.A.’s Latino Emerging Majority.