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Latinos represent the fastest growing population in the United States, and they are the leading edge of a demographic change transforming the U.S. into a “majority minority” country. Their influence upon the direction of national political, cultural, and economic trends, and many other issues, continues to grow. Recognizing the dynamic role of Latinos in U.S. public life, American University’s Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum (ALPAF) convenes scholars, advocates, policy professionals, journalists, students, and other stakeholders, to address key questions and topics of concern for Latino communities across the country.

Latinos have accounted for half of U.S. population growth since 2000, increasing 51% between 2000 and 2017. As of 2017, 18.1% of the country, or 58.6 million people, identified as Latino. By 2060, the number of Latinos is projected to grow 115% to 119 million, comprising 29% of the nation’s population. Understanding the expanding importance of Latinos in American society is thus a key dimension in addressing the country’s present and future.

Held in the Nation’s Capital, ALPAF connects the findings of academic research with the efforts of stakeholders to illuminate the role of Latinos in American society and to enrich Latino lives. Each year the Forum focuses on a significant public policy issue that is both impacted by and important to Latino communities in the U.S.

2019 Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum

American University's Fifth Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum

Inclusive Communities, Welcoming Neighborhoods? The Present and Future for Latinos in Changing U.S. Cities

March 1, 2019

As the U.S. Latino population continues to grow, Latinos are increasingly at the center of urban planning debates about the changing demographic diversity of new and emerging metropolitan areas. At the same time, cities are responding to a set of historical and structural challenges, such as the effects of gentrification, that directly affect Latino communities. While some attention has been given to implications of demographic change in larger cities, less is known about these circumstances in such smaller or medium sized immigrant gateways as Raleigh, NC; Lexington, KY; Bridgeport, CT; Burlington, VT; or Salt Lake City, UT, among others.

Co-sponsored by American University’s Center for Latin American & Latino Studies and its Metropolitan Policy Center, the fifth Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum (ALPAF) will convene AU faculty, and other scholars of urban diversity and Latino life in U.S. cities, together with urban planners, to address neighborhood inclusion in three interrelated panel discussions. This year’s Forum considers urban policy and planning in small and medium sized cities with significant and increasing Latino populations to assess what steps they are taking or could take to make often rapidly changing neighborhoods more welcoming for Latinos.

  1.  Housing, Schools, and Small Business: Affordable housing and access to community anchor institutions are important sources of belonging for established residents and of integration for newcomers, supporting social cohesion. They are also critical to efforts by cities to address such challenges as minority wealth accumulation, changing neighborhood identities, the displacement of long-term residents, and increased ethnic segregation. As the demographics of U.S. cities continue to evolve, how are they meeting the needs of established and new Latino residents?
  2. Access to Local Public Services: Research indicates that Latinos are often the demographic group that is least likely to take advantage of available public services. Latinos also express high levels of fear around such services as policing. As cities seek to engage their communities, how can processes of urban planning, decision-making and outreach become more responsive to the problems and priorities of Latino residents? And how might Latino community representatives and advocates become more central to planning processes that pursue improved services and more equitable urban growth?
  3. Urban Planning and Public Spaces: To make cities more hospitable to residents, planners often seek to create public or green spaces, and undertake efforts of place-making. But different minority groups vary in their conceptions of public space, suggesting the need to rethink approaches to place-making as linchpins of community development. How do Latinos use public spaces and what is the relative visibility of Latinos as participants in urban life? What are consequences of the addition or loss of public spaces, their relationship to social inclusion, and efforts to make Latinos the subject of place-making or diversity marketing campaigns?

2018 Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum

ALPAF 2018 flyer logo

Health Services and Latino Youth: Challenges, Collaborations, and the Social Safety Net

March 19, 2018

This fourth annual forum convened American University faculty and distinguished national experts from the legal and medical fields, together with local government and community representatives, to address access to health services for often undocumented, underserved, and at-risk Latino youth. It featured a keynote speaker and three moderated panels, addressing the federal landscape, ongoing challenges and solutions for local jurisdictions, the emerging inter-professional and community collaborations working to provide these services, and some of the most innovative school-based models for service delivery. The event was featured in several media outlets, including the Kojo Nnamdi Show.

Co-sponsors for this event include American University's Center for Latin American & Latino Studies, its Center on Health, Risk and Society, and AU's Washington College of Law's Health Law and Policy Program.

Forum Agenda | Forum Flyer | Speaker Biographies | Facebook Live Coverage

Presentations:

Medicaid's Role for Latino Youth
Leonardo Cuello

Regional Health Care Access
Sharon Zalewski

Latino Youth, Health Services, and Local Jurisdictions
Matt Lopas

Interpersonal Collaboration to Meet Latino Youth Health Needs
Emily Benfer

Caring for Immigrant Children: Resources and Resilience
Danielle Dooley

Medical-Legal Partnership Advocacy on Behalf of Children and Families Who Have Suffered Trauma
Yael Cannon

School-Based Health Center
Maria Aramburu

Mary's Center
Marisa Parrella

Mi Refugio School-Based Program
José Segura

2017 Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum

2017 ALPAF Logo

Latino Entrepreneurship: Access to Capital, Challenges for Growth

February 27, 2017

CLALS and the Kogod School of Business jointly sponsored the 3rd Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum, which considered the challenges currently faced by Latino entrepreneurs in accessing financial capital, as well as possible solutions. Expert panelists discussed the following questions:

  • With regard to accessing capital for business start-up and growth, what roles are played by incubators, bank loans, community economic development and assistance organizations, and small business investment companies?
  • If Latinos start businesses at a higher rate than other groups in the U.S., why do sustaining business success, and expanding upon success over the long term, continue to be challenging?
  • What innovations can we point to in the financial sector and government, including public-private cooperation - and what steps are still needed - in order to better capitalize and help grow Latino businesses?

Forum Agenda | Forum Flyer | Speaker Biographies

Presentations:

Building Success in Underserved Markets
Manny Hidalgo

Connecting the Dots of Capital, Talent, Corporate, and Government Needs and MWBE (Minority and Women Owned Enterprise) Growth
Monika Mantilla

2016 Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum

2016 ALPAF Logo

The Role of the Latino Vote in the 2016 Presidential Election

February 29, 2016

CLALS and the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies jointly sponsored the 2nd Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum, which considered the impact of the Latino vote on the 2016 presidential election cycle. Expert panelists discussed the following key questions:

  • What effects might Republican discourse and positions during the primary process have on this growing block of voters and how might these affect the election?
  • Are Democrats effectively building on or losing their historical advantage among Latinos?
  • Are there other, perhaps unforeseen, factors that might come into play to help determine the impact of the Latino vote on the election?

Over 100 guests attended the event and watched the livestream.

Forum Agenda | Speaker Biographies | Forum Flyer | Forum Report


Presentations:

The Latino Vote & the GOP
Glen Bolger

Voto Latino & the 2016 Elections
Maria Urbina

A Glance at the Latino Vote in 2016
Clarissa Martínez-de-Castro

The Latino Vote 2016: Swing States and Wild Cards
Mark Hugo Lopez

Swing States and Wild Cards
Luis Fortuño

President Obama's Opening to Cuba and the 2016 Elections
William M. LeoGrande

2015 Annual Latino Public Affairs Forum

2015 ALPAF Header Image

Prospects & Implications of Immigration Reform Policies, 2015-2016

January 15, 2015

The inaugural Forum considered the prospects and possibilities for immigration policy during the last two years of the Obama administration. The half-day event featured panels of academics, political analysts, advocates, and other stakeholders.

Forum Agenda | Speaker Biographies | Forum Flyer


Presentations:

Prospects and Implications of Immigration Reform Policies: A Children's Perspective
Wendy D. Cervantes

Bending Towards Justice?: The Moral Arc of U.S. Immigration Policy
Jayesh Rathod

Latino Immigration Attitudes and Support for the Two Parties
Ali A. Valenzuela

The Intersection of Federal, State, and Local Immigration Laws and Policies
Michele Waslin

Negotiating Religion and Race in Immigrant America: Latino Evangelicals and Their Emerging Role in American Politics
Janelle Wong

Conflict and Consensus in American Public Opinion on Immigration
Matthew Wright