Axios Latino

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¡Muy buen día!

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This newsletter, edited by Astrid Galván and Alison Snyder, is 1,241 words, about a 4.5-minute read.

1 big thing: The Latino pulse after Biden's year one

President Joe Biden sits at a meeting with a microphone in front of him while his hands are clasped together
President Biden. Photo: Shawn Thew/EPA/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Some of the nation’s most prominent civil rights organizations are urging President Biden to do more for Latinos, Astrid writes.

Why it matters: Even though Latinos favored Biden over Trump in 2020, Republicans made significant inroads, putting Democrats on notice. Latinos will account for about 1 in 8 eligible voters in 2024 and are a growing voting demographic that Democrats will have to fight harder for.

  • UnidosUS and other influential groups with a direct line to U.S. Latinos say that while some Biden initiatives have helped them, more aggressive policies are needed, such as immigration reform, COVID-19 economic relief opportunities and an increase in Hispanic representation among federal judges.

Driving the news: A Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday found the share of Hispanics who approve of the president’s performance — 52% — hasn’t changed since September.

  • The president's approval rating is high among Black voters, about 60%, and low among white voters, 33%. But Hispanic voters outnumber Black voters.
  • Overall, Biden’s approval ratings are down in other national polls as his first year in office comes to a close.

Details: UnidosUS released a report this week saying Biden’s American Rescue Plan Act and infrastructure bill were major feats but that he needs to do more.

  • The civil rights group Mi Familia Vota said Biden helped bring Latino unemployment down since the pandemic but needs to deliver on his promises for immigration reform.
  • Thomas A. Saenz, the president of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, said Biden needs to appoint more Latino judges. A tiny fraction of federal judges identify as Latino.
  • “We’ve seen some progress and some terrific appointments, but we need to see more appointments and we need to see more appointments in circuits that historically have never had Latino or Latina judges,” Saenz tells Axios.

The bottom line: Latinos’ satisfaction with Biden will be a crucial factor during November’s midterm elections, and influential groups are saying he needs to pay closer attention to their needs.

2. Mexico investigates immigration agents

Five Mexican federal immigration agents stand in daylight in front of a large tree.
Federal Mexican immigration agents, September 2021. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

The Mexican government says it opened corruption investigations into over 100 immigration officials last year, Marina writes.

Details: Activists say Mexican officials are asking for bribes to let asylum seekers and migrants through checkpoints, especially in the Chiapas border with Guatemala.

  • Some immigration officers are also suspected of handing migrants who escape cartels right back to them, a smuggler told Business Insider.
  • The federal agency responsible for immigration enforcement, Instituto Nacional de Migración, has not commented on the claims but has said it will “collaborate in any investigation related to possible crimes of human trafficking” committed by its staff.

What’s happening: Criminal organizations' human smuggling operations have grown in the past few years.

  • Cartels and smugglers also make money by extorting migrants and their families, or by kidnapping or torturing them before, and often after, they are deported from the U.S.

The big picture: NGOs say the continuation of the "Remain in Mexico" and Title 42 policies on the U.S. side has made these dangers more prevalent, with over 8,700 reports of kidnappings and violent attacks in the past year alone.

  • "Remain in Mexico" makes asylum seekers wait in that country for their application to be processed. Title 42 allows fast-tracked deportations from the U.S., without a chance to ask for asylum, a policy the administration says will protect Americans from COVID-19.

What to watch: A new Biden administration program will provide legal services for migrants in seven border towns, Axios’ Stef Knight reports.

3. More students are Latino, but most teachers are white

Data: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Two new reports show the percentage of Latino children in U.S. public schools has soared over the last three decades, but most teachers are still white, Russ writes.

The big picture: Hispanic children account for some of the largest growth among student populations in public schools.

  • The nation's 6.6 million teacher workforce has grown more racially and ethnically diverse over the past three decades, but it's not keeping up with students' changing demographics.
  • The disparities are especially acute between Hispanic students and teachers, and in schools with 90% or greater non-white student populations.

By the numbers: 79% of U.S. public school teachers identified as white, non-Hispanic, according to a Pew Research Center analysis released late last year, based on data from the 2017-18 school year, the latest compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics.

  • Fewer than one in 10 teachers was Black (7%), Hispanic (9%) or Asian American (2%).
  • Between fall 2009 and fall 2018, the percentage of public school students who were Hispanic increased from 22% to 27%.

Keep reading.

4. COVID and pregnant Latinas

A woman wearing a mask receives a COVID-19 vaccine in the arm
A woman gets a COVID-19 vaccine during an event for pregnant women in Honduras in August 2021. Photo: Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty Images

Pregnant Hispanic women are 2.4 times more likely to get COVID-19, warns a study from Sutter Health, Marina writes. The nonprofit health care network is urging medical professionals to encourage more vaccinations for Latinas.

Why it matters: Pregnant people with COVID-19 face higher risks of maternal death and of premature births and stillbirths, research shows.

  • Only 42% of all pregnant people had been fully vaccinated in the U.S. until mid-January, according to CDC data. The rate was lower for pregnant Latinas (38%) and Black women (26%).
  • Women who contracted COVID-19 during their pregnancy were more likely to undergo emergency C-sections and be put on respirators, doctors told Axios.
  • Recovery requires time and physical therapy, making the first stages of motherhood even harder.

What to know: Groups like UnidosUS and the Kaiser Family Foundation are using bilingual videos and misinformation-debunking campaigns to encourage Latinas to get vaccinated.

  • Coronavirus vaccines are known to be safe before and during pregnancy, with no proven negative effects on fertility.
  • It is also safe while lactating, which carries the additional benefit of sharing antibodies with the baby through breast milk.

5. Stories we’re watching

People dressed in protective suits and wearing masks clean up a beach in Peru
Cleanup efforts on the beaches of Lima, Peru, after an oil spill from the La Pampilla refinery. Photo: Klebher Vásquez/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

1. Peru is in the middle of its worst environmental disaster in recent history.

  • The government issued a 90-day emergency declaration last week after 6,000 oil barrels from a refinery spilled along the country’s coastline due to waves caused by Tonga’s volcano explosion.
  • Peruvian waters are highly biodiverse, and the contamination puts over 700 fish species and 800 types of mollusks and crustaceans at risk.

2. The Honduran Congress started off its new term in crisis, as two rival factions of the Libre ruling party installed two simultaneous leaders in an attempt to rule the House.

  • The dispute comes right before President-elect Xiomara Castro’s inauguration on Thursday.
  • U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, who is trying to address the root causes of migration from Central America, is scheduled to attend.

3. Five Guatemalans in a former Civil War patrol force were convicted yesterday and sentenced to 30 years each for raping Mayan women in the 80s.

6. ✉️1 smile to go: A ranchera for Mr. Postman

Animated GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
A sneak peek at the upcoming mariachi stamps. Source: USPS via Noticias Telemundo

The U.S. Postal Service will feature mariachi music this year with a dedicated stamp collection, Marina writes.

Details: The mariachi collection features five charro musicians with signature mariachi instruments.

  • Illustrator Rafael López, who previously created a series on Latin music legends that included a Selena stamp, also designed these.
  • USPS recently also launched a Day of the Dead collection designed by Mexican artist Luis Fitch.
  • The mariachi stamps will be on sale sometime later this year.

Thanks for reading, we’ll be back Thursday.