Recently, the Minnesota House of Representatives passed the “License for All” bill that Minnesotans have been calling for. While this is a great achievement and a step towards a more equitable future, there is still so much left to do.
For the first time in Minnesota history, Latino-led and Latino-serving organizations have come together to form an alliance, the Minnesota Latino Leadership Alliance (MiLLA) that – with and for the community – will work to elevate our collective influence to produce policy and systems change. The full policy agenda includes education, environmental justice, health and well-being, economic and workforce development, belonging and integration, and arts and cultural development.
The Latino Minnesotan population is strong, young and growing. According to the 2020 Census, we represent only 6.1% of the total population (about 346,000 residents) but we continue to have one of the highest labor force participation rates. The Latino economy in Minnesota is an estimated $10 billion. With more than 12,000 Latino small businesses, and paying an estimated $600-plus million in state and local taxes, Latino Minnesotans are crucial assets with untapped potential for the future of this great state. Our population grew by 38% between 2010 and 2020 with 68% of the state’s Latino population being natural-born citizens. In some cities, like Worthington, 36% of the population (as of 2021) identifies as Latino or Hispanic.
As an established population rooted in the state, Latinos understand how important this moment is for the community. With a projected $17.6 billion budget surplus, we look forward to investments and programs that uplift our communities commensurate with our contributions.
Why now? Simply put, there continues to be disparities that affect our children, youth, families and communities. For instance, young Latinos are the fastest-growing demographic in Minnesota but there is still so much left to do to close the educational gap. This partnership will demonstrate the critical importance of including our communities’ aspirations and dreams in concrete legislative actions.
With the support of our community and allies, MiLLA aims to secure bi-partisan support for legislation that advances our consensus agenda through collaboration, community and persistence.
Liz Godefoy is the communications manager for LatinoLEADMN. MiLLA’s organizations include the Minnesota Council on Latino Affairs (MCLA), LatinoLEAD, HACER, Unidos-MN, COPAL, Alliance of Chicanos, Hispanics, and Latin Americans (ACHLA), Centro Tyrone Guzmán, CLUES, Common Cause Minnesota, Esperanza United, Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC), Latino Chamber of Commerce, Minnesota Immigrant Movement (MIM), NeoMuralismos de México en Minnesota.