Minneapolis is home to the largest Latino population in Minnesota and Latinos are the fasting growing population in the U. S. and Minnesota. Since 1990 the Latino population has dramatically increased by more than 500%.
Lake Street in Minneapolis is home to a vibrant corridor of Latino businesses and has become the epicenter of the Latino Community. In the early 1990’s the Lake Street commercial corridor was in decline and local residents were struggling to make ends meet. Today that area houses over 300 Latino owned businesses and much of the development along Lake Street can be credited to the influx of Latino population.
Through collaboration between the City of Minneapolis and the Latino community an informal group comprised of community leaders formed the Latino Engagement Task Force (LETF) was formed and the following initiatives were determined:
- Minnesota DREAM Act: The Minnesota Dream Act guarantees in-state tuition rates to undocumented students in Minnesota. It also commits financial aid to qualified, aspiring undocumented college students in the state. The Minnesota Dream Act was part of the legislative agenda supported by the City. It will benefit hundreds of residents and their families in Minneapolis.
- Driver’s Licenses for All: A large priority of the Latino community in Minneapolis is the ongoing work at the State level to expand driver's license eligibility to undocumented residents. This year, Mariano Espinoza, Latino Community Specialist, worked with community leaders to have this law passed during the 2015 legislative process. The bill (HF 97- SF 224), a part of the larger Transportation Omnibus Bill, was passed by the Senate, but not heard in the house. This will continue to be a priority for the Latino community in Minneapolis for the 2016 Legislative session.
- Comprehensive Immigration Reform : On January 30, 2015, the Minneapolis City Council adopted a resolution supporting President Obama’s policy on immigration reform. The NCR and Communications departments are working with the community to ensure that the community has access and information regarding the necessary services and to prevent fraud.
Connecting with the Community
The Latino Community is multi-ethnic, rich in values with great diversity between residents from various countries and regions. A variety of approaches are therefore necessary to connect to the Latino community. Latinos highly value personal relationships and location and love their mother language. Latino community-based organizations, local leaders, and faith-based groups are essential partners in planning and outreach to the Latino community, particularly for immigrants and low-income Latinos, because:
- Latino groups understand the Latino community, its diversity, and its special barriers and needs.
- People who are not fluent in English often don’t receive information communicated through mainstream sources.
- Some Latinos have limited literacy.
- Immigrants who fear or distrust government are less likely to comply with directives issued by public agencies.
- These same individuals often know and trust Latino local community groups with their bilingual, culturally competent staff and volunteers.
- Latino groups can help you to understand the Latino community and develop practical plans for reaching them.
For more information about effective and culturally appropriate strategies to engage the Latino communities in Minneapolis, contact Mariano Espinoza, Latino Community Specialist, at [email protected] or at 612-281-8629 (Cell).
Photo: Govenor Dayton signs the Minnesota Dream Act into Law in October 2013
Last updated Aug 31, 2020