tv Tavis Smiley WHUT April 15, 2013 8:00am-8:30am EDT
radio host for univision garcia, jesus xavier gutierrez, stephanie sanchez. we're glad you have joined us tonight. our conversation about the status of the latino nation. coming up right now. >> there is a saying that dr. king had. it is always the right time to do the right thing. i tried to do -- live my life everyday by doing the right thing. we have a lot of work to do. wal-mart committed to fighting hunger in the u.s.. as we worke could
stamp hundred out. -- hunger out. and by contributions to your pbs stations by viewers like you. thank you. tavis: our country's future is linked to this traverse and dynamic ethnic group. we can no longer paint latinos has marginalized. as this community goes, so goes america. we often hear thought leaders discussing immigration reform. we asked the panel to define how they think latinos are perceived
in america. >> i believe the greatest challenge we have faced is related to the inability of society to understand the meaning of demographic changes. the fact that beginning to 40 years ago, the nature of migration together with the changes in the demographic trends, lance us in a situation where we are in it. --lands us where we are end. anhas not given us appropriate environment to understand what it means. ofre has been a degree demonization of to latinos are, who immigrants are. this is one of the greatest challenges we face. poses mexicans
come up some sort of threat to society as opposed to seeing latinos as what we are, of great opportunity, a rich assets for the nation. that kind of narrative has not been the dominating narrative. >> it is crucial that we do anything we can to take away everything that has been poisonous, poisoning the waters, so we can have a conversation about latinos and what we represent for the country, not only in terms of what we have done, but also embracing the fact that we are a net gain for the country. >> i am a student at chicago state university. the common population here is african-american.
, latino students students, how the difficulty merging in with the culture of our campus. i have not found that to be a challenge at all. i have been openly embraced, i have had doors opened, without a sense of judgment of to ibm, what my background is, where my family came from. >> it is an exciting time in the country, the point where we are today coming on the heels of the last presidential election, community was recognized as an important player in the country. someone who has to be reckoned with and has to be accounted for as we project into the future what this country will be, what america will be. in our experiences, we have stories that we share with a
larger america about how to work, about sacrifice, about love for families, about love for community. how we engage in building communities at a very local levels. how we can add to other communities, like the african american community, the asian community. our children are entered meriting into groups who have been here for -- inter-marrying into groups to have been here. we had -- i would like to think we have the potential to become a bridge builders and to help push the country forward in the direction with good values and we have good stories to back that up. i would like to see us as a good glue that helps to elevate the
debate about the future of the country. -- hasthing i think is is thebeen positive contribution we give to the economy. that is no different than the past generations of immigrants who have come from other parts of the world. whether they were forced to come to this country, like the black slaves, they filled an economic need, whether it was the irish, jewish, the chinese. we all have this great contribution that was made to this nation as working people and really boosting the creation of the middle-class. my hope is, especially now with this opportunity around immigration reform, that we fix
our laws in such a way that it really does give recognition to the hard work of millions of men and women to this economy, to this nation, and that will boost the economy for everyone, it will boost the economy and create a stronger middle-class. we have had our downside as a way we have been treated, but i think we are -- we work hard, we want to raise our families, have a good education. the alamo was fought in texas. when i was growing up, the mexicans for the good guys. we could only swim on wednesdays because that was the day when the pool was cleaned and that was a mexican day. i was the first latino in the city council obecause we had to
fight for those struggles. -- i think we are at a threshold in texas, which is now a majority-minority state, we will elect the next latino governor. those dynamics are occurring. the first latino or latina president has been born. he or she is going to be elected just like barack obama had an just like john f. kennedy and all of these other immigrant presence. >> i grew up in miami, a huge immigrant population as well. i joke around all the time that the only thing my parents had in common was they had two kids. just because there are some
differences in what i have been able to do while traveling the country, there is so much diversity and we should never put all hispanics in one box. not only from the different countries, but when you -- they adapt to the states. on mexican-american in arizona is very different from texas. it is trying to understand those differences. i am optimistic of how much more hispanics have become involved in politics, how many more are running for office. most of the stuff i do is behind the scenes, at seeing more hispanics running campaigns. tavis: it was clear that latino issues are not separate and apart from the rest of this country's concerns. they were hit hard by the recession and loss of jobs. it was a topic that our
panelists debating the intersection of unions, interest -- immigration reform, and the dignity in hard work. >> there was a study done by ucla of three citieshat had a large concentration of immigrants in the workforce. -- newage of 56 million york, chicago, and delayed. at $56 million a week in wage theft. wage theft meeting paying less than the minimum wage, not paying overtime, not doing what the law requires you to do. -- it leads to low wages. that is why the labor movement is so engaged right now with a number of different workers organizing, especially immigrant workers organizing themselves.
look what happens in the fields. i grew up in the fields, i worked in the field until i was 16 years old. this pressure on a job availability, what kinds of jobs, we get those low-paying jobs. that is why i believe in the labor movement. there has to be away for working people to be able to collectively organized, just as they would as homeowners, the chamber of business says. we need a collective voice and that is why the most vibrant organizing in the country right now is in the immigrant worker community, whether it is a hotel housekeeper, whether it is a car wash worker, you name it. there has to be a way of pushing back. there has to be a fair way of working -- working people getting what they deserved. >> all of our companies are union companies, right?
we deal with the very sophisticated real-estate construction. industriesintensive that need it sophistication. that seems to -- speaks to a broader issue of how best to educate the folks that are here. whether they are undocumented or not, you have 50 million latinos that are here. their impact is going to happen, whether we like it or not. as a business person, we look for qualified folks. as a latino business owner, it is incumbent upon us to continue to support other minority owned businesses. it is important to see that we are not the only ones in a certain industry. you have to get beyond a certain conversation of, are you even
qualified to be here? we exist in this very interesting paradox, right? on the one hand, i do believe that we are this invisible economic giant. we do not talk about it and no one else talks about it. on the other hand, we are at the bottom end when it comes to economics and equality. it is about jobs, being competitive, and it is about having folks that will pay into the system. >> i want to tie in the subject of education and the prospects who are getting ready to graduate and wondering whether or not her name is going to matter when she applies. wondering if there is a job out there for her. the desire to go
forward and see higher education have to find ways by which they have to finance those that will be three student loans. i worry about those students graduating today it and going forward without any assistance with heavy debt bank loans. -- oneard to pinpoint thing they do feel is they have been hit the hardest in this economic situation. they want government to provide solutions. they want a better economy. hispanics have a large percentage of small businesses. government over regulation has really hurt them and with the economic downturn, it has made a lot more difficult for small businesses to succeed right now. it is a tough situation for a lot of the latino community. tavis: latinos are grappling
with a diminishing economic opportunities. for latinos are without medical insurance than any other group in the nation. we asked our panelists about what health care reform will mean for the latino families. >> is a very difficult issue for us. this is a community -- we need health care. that is a fact. -- without a doubt, on the other hand, we have 6000 employees across our businesses. obamacare has been an incredible issue of consternation for us. the health care costs that we are incurring are incredible. the conversations we have with this new law and the conversations we have
fundamentally if the business is having issues, it will be harder for us to maintain the job count that we want. it will be harder for us to hire folks. those are realities that we live with as business owners. difficult issue for us to just say, we are excited that obamacare is here. on the other hand, i have visited emergency rooms. you -- go to an emergency room on a saturday evening in a major urban center and that will be enough for you to say, we need something to change. >> obamacare is a very positive development to urban areas? -- that public health systems
provided services to everyone, including the undocumented. as should be the case with an institution that is dedicated to caring for the most vulnerable populations in society. having said that, the strain placed on the public health system is very significant. one that is unsustainable, but for some intervention. enter obamacare. obamacare is enabling us to expand the number of individuals who are covered by medicare, thus insuring the first time that expenses incurred by the county public health system will now be reimbursed. giving us an opportunity to plan for the future, to emphasize a primary care, to prevent costly treatments at the emergency room centers as the focus getting to
people primary care services, educating the community about wellness, doing a lot more of the upfront care for people so it does not turn out to be as expensive. the other part of it is really important and that was obamacare is a progression moving forward to cover more people in the country who are not insured. less of them will be uninsured. the deal that was made with the devil to ensure passage of obamacare was the exclusion of the undocumented. they do not live in seclusion, they are not quarantined. they're part of our community. there are people your daughter or son named mary tomorrow. we ought to be thinking about engaging strategies that make the country more healthy. have a system that is
sustainable into the future. those are some of the paradoxes we are dealing with. is immigration reform going to deal whether or not people will become eligible? if it does not come at it will guarantee that immigration reform will continue to be an issue that we will have to pound away for the next decade. >> there are a lot of problems with the affordable care act. i would be the first one to say it. however, we do have to give credit to president obama and the overwhelming majority of latinos in this country support obamacare. you have to give credit to him for trying to push something through. employers should not sabotage this effort, it should be doing everything they can to help this effort. they are only worsening the problem. they have responsibility that they are not living up to. >> latinos are engaged in many more issues than just
immigration reform. that concern is never far from the minds of so many in this community. >> the reality is, latinos want to be americans but they want the american dream. we believe in the american dream. all those latinos, what did they got your like my great grandfather or they just came here last year, they all search for that american dream. we talk about education and the economy and health care, those are american values, those are christian values. america will be stronger and better when they left latinos have a seat at the table. , ii want to say to everyone want to ask everyone to get involved and do something.
i believe in a democracy, i love this country. my parents came from mexico and worked all their lives in the fields. we believe in this country. that means exercise it, exercise your rights and your freedom. we are going to rebuild the middle class in this country. that as we go forward over the next 100 years, that we have the most important section of u.s. society find the wisdom to be creative and to be --ovative, held the week innovative. >> the most important thing is to have discussions. the most interesting thing is that more and more hispanics are howming more educated on public policy and how law's impact their lives.
the average age is 27 years old and it is important to get more involved. this is an exceptional country. my parents are americans by choice and i am an american by chance. >> to the american people, i would simply like to say the to be threads that wants weaved as part of a larger democracy and the fabric that we know as america and that we are looking forward to the future, what is going to look like a simply an expression bruited injustice, hard work -- rooted family,ce, hard work, the ideas that all of america can relate to. >> i would like to go back to fixing the economy.
it is important, not just for us, but also for the nation at large. in that regard, i want to go back to the issue of housing. housing must be addressed. it represents a significant component of our economic recovery. ther way to many families, majority of, are white, we are overly represented, latinos and lacked -- african-americans. >> this conversation is historic and it is historic because it does not just encompass immigration. what i was heartened to hear today was that we discussed the issue of economic and power meant of this community. this is the economic engine of this country. the faster that the rest of the country embraces that concept, the greater that we will all be
for it. i am incredibly proud to be an immigrant. i'm incredibly proud to be latino. i'm incredibly proud to be american. >> i just want to say, fight for us, and knowledge us. thank you. is the conclusion of latino nation. i want to thank all of our panelists. i want to thank chicago state university for posting this symposium. for more on this conversation, visit our website any time. until next time, the night. as always, keep the faith. onfor more information today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time
>> we will take a look at their agenda. >> there is a saying that dr. king had that said there is always the right time to do the right thing. i try to live my life every day by doing the right thing. we know that we are only halfway to completely eliminating hunger and we have work to do. walmart committed $2 billion to fighting hunger in the u.s. as we work together, we can stamp hunger out. >> brought to you by life insurance companies, protecting working families. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you.
>> that's not part of the dynamic. you're not doing a play in order to get to broadway. you're doing a play with the playwright in the room, a living playwright, my favorite thing to do, because then you've got somebody to say, "what did you mean by this?" a dead playwright you can't ask that question of. >> haskins: "theater talk" is made possible in part by...