by Alex Gonzalez
In recent speeches, Trump as argued that Hispanic and Black communities live in poverty, and therefore, they should vote for him because “they have nothing to lose.”
But the U.S. Census statistics show that more white live in poverty than Hispanics and Blacks. For example, according to the U.S. Census, in 2007–2011 42.7 million people or 14.3 percent of the U.S. population had income below the poverty level. And these people most likely are the ones receiving food stamps cited by Trump when he argues that 50 million of Americans live on food stamps.
When separated by race/ethnicity, among Hispanics, national poverty rates ranged from a low of 16.2 percent for Cubans to a high of 26.3 percent for Dominicans totaling 11,197,648.
Forty-three states and the District of Columbia had poverty rates for the white population lower than 14.0 percent for 2007 to 2011. Seven states had poverty rates of 14.0 percent or more (Arizona, Arkansas, Kentucky, New Mexico, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) totaling 25,659,922.
Figure 1 shows that, though while the number of Hispanics in poverty is only 11,197,648, they do have a 22 percent of poverty levels; whites have about 25,659,922 in poverty levels or about 12 percent. That’s 13 million more poor white people than poor Hispanics, and more than 15 million more than those who identify as Black. A majority of those benefiting from programs like food stamps and Medicaid are white, too.
White are still are the majority of the population, and in some states, they have a lower poverty rate than Hispanics especially in coastal states, but still more whites live in poverty than Hispanics in rural and southern states.
Figure 5 shows that the states with the highest levels of white in poverty are in the South, including Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
Figure 9 also shows that states with the highest levels of Hispanic/Latino poverty levels are also in the South, and Pennsylvania, that are not traditional Hispanic states – states with large Hispanic populations like Texas and California. These poverty levels among Hispanics may point to the fact that poverty among Hispanics immigrants and first generations, is greater than older generations of Hispanics who have lived in the U.S. for more than three generations; those states have become a new hub for immigrant families who have moved to rural states in the south and the mid-west.
But poverty among Hispanics is an issue that is remedied generationally when Hispanics become more educated and upward mobile, they become middle-class.
But not only high concentration of poverty among whites is greater in Republicans “white states;” coincidentally, these are states states where Trump is promoting the false idea that only Hispanics and Blacks are likely to live in poverty, while carefully avowing to point out that, nationally, number of poor whites is greater (25 million) than the combined numbers of Hispanics (11,197,648) and Blacks (9,472,583) of 21 million.
But facts don’t matter to Trump. However, it is important for Trump to keep pushing the idea that Hispanics and Blacks live in poverty – and not whites – because it reinforces that negative images that whites in South have, and in some political circles and right-wing media outlets, that only Hispanics and Blacks live in poverty and are using welfare. But that is just a myth.
Many studies in Texas and California clearly shows that many Mexican immigrants and their children have traveled paths to becoming full Americans that, even if slower, are not unlike the paths followed previously by European immigrants. And when parents have legal status, their children do better in school and become fully productive members of American society more quickly.
So the all neurotic incendiary screams in rallies by Trump arguing that Hispanics and Blacks need to vote for Trump vote for Trump because “they have nothing to lose,” it’s just more “dog-whistle politics” that the “angry white base” needs to make the arguments that Trump is reaching out to minorities. He is reaching out to Hispanics by falsely promoting negative stereotypes about Hispanics and Black popular in fringe right-wing media.
Alex Gonzalez is a political Analyst and Political Director for Latinos Ready To Vote. Comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or @AlexGonzTXCA