For over 200 years, residents in Washington, D.C. have been subjected to inequality and underrepresentation when it comes to voting in Congress. For D.C. Latinos, issues run deeper, as they are subjected to systemic inequalities that directly affect their communities.
“For Latinos, who are a minority, they’ve been treated with… racist issues from… racist institutions that have existed and underrepresented them in different ways,” said Joahquin Mendez, a Latino D.C. resident who has lived in the district since he was three years old.
The Hispanic population in the district now reaches 11.3%, according to census data, Many residents fear that if the GOP takes over, they could overturn local laws that affect their community, such as one establishing limited use driver’s licenses, which are largely used by new immigrants who have not yet obtained citizenship.
“Because of the fact there’s such a political divide, the Republican party does not want D.C. to be a state as it would most definitely lead to three votes in Congress for the Democratic party,” said Mendez. “It shows a stark idea that the Republican party does not wish to uphold voting for the state, simply because of political and partisan lines.
”While D.C. residents pay the most federal taxes per capita at $10,517.59 per adult resident and produce the highest GDP of all the states, D.C. officials still had to fight to get a fair share of COVID pandemic grants back in 2020. Hispanics had a higher risk of hospitalization or death from COVID-19 than some other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S.
“Taxation without representation” is a symbol of how many Latino residents are at a disadvantage when it comes to fair representation. While residents do get to elect two senators and one representative to Congress, these spots are non-voting positions, as they aren’t sworn in or seated.
“Whether your Black, Asian, Hispanic, or any other race, it is most important that we uphold the idea that we have equality and fairness, and representation most importantly,” said Mendez.