Open Letter to the Latino Communities of Boston from the “Latinos Por Tito” Committee

Dear Fellow Latinos of Boston,

As our communities reel from threats unleashed by national events like the Charlottesville violence, Arpaio pardon, DACA and TPS phase-outs – not to mention recent natural disasters affecting our loved ones in other parts of the country and Latin America – we must not lose sight of upcoming local events that will have a tremendous impact on our future in this city: the Mayoral elections this November 7th. Mayors in Boston have an outsized influence on our opportunities, our prosperity, and our very ability to continue to be part of the City of Boston. Our next Mayor will have a large hand in determining the resources available for the education of our children and the success of our small businesses; the balance of power between wealthy developers and neighborhood residents struggling with housing costs; how local policing and immigration enforcement is carried out; and the degree to which city government includes and represents us.

As Latino community and labor organizers, housing justice activists, small business owners, healthcare providers, and educators we believe that it is absolutely critical for our communities – a diverse group of people with Caribbean, Central, and South American roots, connected by language, culture, and history – to vote in record numbers in this election. We urge our fellow Latino voters to back the only Mayoral candidate who sincerely respects and values our communities and has proven his commitment to govern with our interests at heart: Tito Jackson.

Latinos have more presence and power in our city than at any time in history; we are now 1 out of every 5 Boston residents. Latin America is the most common background among immigrants in our city and state. Our families are the most likely of all ethnicities in the city to include children under 18, and we are the largest ethnic group in the Boston Public Schools. Yet while we reflect a range of economic levels and professions, on average Boston’s Latinos have less education and income compared to the white population, but higher rates of unemployment and rent-burden – and we are underrepresented in city government.

Our City’s current leadership has overseen 4 years of rising economic inequality in Boston, as the homeownership rate fails to recover after the foreclosure crisis, the focus on housing production without renter protections leads to mass displacement, and our public schools suffer budget cuts. All these trends affect Latino communities disproportionately. Our current Mayor says he is concerned with these problems, and with protecting immigrants, but actions speak louder than words. We have to ask ourselves, if in 4 years he has not put his money where his mouth is, what motivation would he have to change after being re-elected? Speaking of money, Mayor Walsh’s campaign donation records show hundreds of thousands in contributions by real estate developers and other big business interests. They clearly believe he will do a good job of representing them. We need to ask ourselves, who will represent us?

Tito Jackson has stood with our communities throughout his 2 terms as District 7 Boston City Councilor.

  • He held corporate landlords accountable by sponsoring public hearings on displacement, listening to the hundreds who testified, then hosting negotiations resulting in a citywide tenant-landlord agreement saving dozens of Section 8 and market-rate tenants from rent increases and evictions.
  • In his negotiations with developers and institutions, Tito gets results for us. In 2015 he won both economic benefits from Northeastern University including strong hiring and sourcing requirements for Boston residents, people of color, and women, plus a $2.5 million loan fund to invest in small business development; and an agreement with a Roxbury hotel developer on local hiring at $18/hour for permanent jobs, along with a $400,000 training fund.
  • Tito chairs the City Council’s Special Committee on the Status of Black & Latino Men and Boys. He believes Boston needs to go beyond “Sanctuary City” status and declare ourselves a “Freedom City,” challenging the prison-industrial complex that profits off the racially-disparate detention of nonviolent offenders and undocumented immigrants alike.   He was the first to propose and hold a hearing on a public/private legal defense fund for those facing deportation, which the city recently created. He sponsored a resolution opposing the federal government’s plan to end DACA, and has called for oversight of potential federal transfers of military equipment to local police.

Compared to 4 years ago, many of us feel less secure about being able to afford our housing, about whether our kids’ schools have enough money, about getting jobs that keep up with the cost of living, and about keeping our small businesses open through all the changes in our redeveloping neighborhoods. We worry over the safety of our young people on the streets, but also whether they will be treated fairly in law enforcement encounters. Our fear of the Trump administration targeting our communities with deportation raids has been realized, and we need a stronger plan than symbolically taking sanctuary in City Hall.

We have to wonder, can our communities even survive another 4 years of the Walsh administration’s empty words and lack of action regarding our economic, educational, and housing situations? We believe choosing our next Mayor boils down to taking an unflinching look at our circumstances, then looking in the mirror and asking ourselves the question: “Do I see myself in Boston’s future?” Marty Walsh’s developer and big business friends are not planning to make a place for us. If we want a future here, we must fight for it.

We urge you to join us in voting Tito Jackson our next Mayor of Boston this November 7th.

 

Comité Latinos Por Tito

María Christina Blanco

Dawn Belkin-Martinez

Adán Colón-Carmona

Michael Leyba

Betsaida Gutierrez

Enrique Pepén

Norma Rosario