For Latinos under President Trump, it’s the best of times, and it’s the worst of times. They’re enjoying historic economic gains, yet face numerous immigration threats.
While Democrats portray the U.S. economy as a Dickensian nightmare, the reality is that more Latinos than ever are living the American dream.
New data released by the online lender Biz2Credit finds that the average Latino-owned business increased its revenue by nearly 50 percent over the past year — far outpacing the U.S. average. This follows a revenue increase of more than 25 percent the year before that.
According to recent data from the Kauffman Foundation, Latinos are nearly twice as entrepreneurial as the rest of the population. And their entrepreneurship rate has grown markedly since Trump’s election.
Hispanics have disproportionately benefited from the little-publicized 20 percent small business tax deduction that took effect last year as part of Trump’s tax cuts. This has allowed Latino entrepreneurs to not only make more revenue but also increase after-tax profits. As a result, more money has stayed in Latino communities, where it can be invested, spent, and circulated.
This has contributed to record high Hispanic household incomes and record low unemployment and poverty rates. Hispanics make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population but account for almost 40 percent of the job growth under President Trump.
Tax cuts and a booming economy have done far more to help Latinos and reduce the ethnic wage gap than any Democrat redistributive or affirmative action scheme ever could.
However, for the more than one-third of Latinos in the country who are immigrants, the picture isn’t so rosy. The Trump administration has pursued a death by one thousand cuts immigration agenda that has disproportionately hurt them.
Exhibit A is the administration’s termination of DACA, which granted legal status to about 800,000 Dreamers, more than 90 percent of whom are Latino. The Supreme Court will hold hearings on this order next month after lower courts issue an injunction.
Trump has also ended Temporary Protected Status for approximately 250,000 Salvadorans, 56,000 Haitians, 80,600 Hondurans, and 4,500 Nicaraguans. He’s also reversed longstanding U.S. policy and begun deporting Cubans in significant numbers.
Recently, the Trump administration also issued executive orders to restrict immigration — including visa renewal and naturalization — from those who have used or may use public benefits. While most fiscal conservatives would agree that immigrants shouldn’t access social programs, the solution is tightening welfare loopholes, not deportation. These public benefit restrictions will disproportionately hurt poorer immigrants from Latin America.
Trump’s broader immigration agenda poses an even bigger threat to Latino immigrants. He’s supported legislation to cut immigration levels in half. This would severely limit the ability of immigrants to sponsor their family members to join them in the U.S. Trump has been particularly critical of this “chain” migration, despite his family benefiting from it.
Trump has elevated immigration hardliners like Ken Cuccinelli and Stephen Miller to key positions in his administration, leaving immigrants worried about the next immigration order. Rumblings of revoking birthright citizenship continue. The administration has also ramped up deportations of peaceful and productive illegal immigrants, whose families are often here legally.
Hispanics will be the largest minority voting block for the first time in 2020. This means President Trump will need to improve on his 28 percent showing among this demographic to get reelected.
He can achieve this if he doubles down on his uniting economic agenda and lightens up on his divisive immigration campaign. Yet for now, Trump’s Latino outreach continues to vacillate between economic wisdom and immigration foolishness.
Jordan Bruneau is an immigration policy analyst in Los Angeles.