Latinos in the DC Metro Area

These resources offer insight into the community of Latinos residing in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Area. These reports includes recent statistics from the U.S. Census, reputable research institutions, and local and federal government regarding the nationality, immigration status, geography, employment, housing, income, poverty, and language proficiency of the population we serve.

  • Latino immigrants in the D.C. Metro Area are predominantly from El Salvador, Mexico, and the Dominican Republic (According to the Urban Institute)
  • The American Community Survey 2005-2007 estimates indicated that 65 percent of Latino-headed households in the District rented, rather than owned, their homes. This was the highest rental rate of any racial or ethnic group in D.C.  (According to the Urban Institute)
  • In 2005–2007, nearly half of all Latino renters spent more than 30 percent of their household income on rent (According to the Urban Institute)
  • From 2006-2010, only 61 percent of Latinos in D.C. had at least a high school degree compared to nearly 99 percent of non-Hispanic white residents of the District (According to the American Community Survey)
  • Over half—55.1 percent—of Latinos in the D.C. area were foreign born in 2006-2010 (According to the American Community Survey)
  • According to estimates from 2006-2010, nearly a quarter of D.C.’s foreign born Latino population is naturalized. (Data drawn from the American Community Survey)
  • The Hispanic population in the District grew by 21.8 percent from 2000 to 2010, increasing from 44,953 in 2000 to 54,749 in 2010. As of 2010, Hispanics comprised 9.1 percent of total population in the district. (According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau)

Latinos in the Washington Metro Area
By Maria Sprehn-Malagón, Jorge Hernandez-Fujigaki, Linda Robinson, 2014
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The Latino presence in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area has diverse roots and a rich history. The earlier residents were relatively small in number, but the Latino population increased dramatically in the late 20th century. Today, this unique Latino community is the 12th largest in the nation. While people of Salvadoran origin are the most numerous, this area is also home to those who hail from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Guatemala, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, and many other nations and cultures. This book highlights the early days of the Hispanic Festival, the Central American peace movement, the struggle for civil and immigrants’ rights, and notable residents. With a shared immigrant experience and broad cultural bonds, these and many other Latino residents have transformed the Washington, DC area.

10 Years of Language Access in Washington, DC 
Urban Institute, 2014
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To commemorate the 10 year anniversary of the DC Language Access Act, the DC Office of Human Rights commissioned a report from the Urban Institute to reflect on 10 years of implementation and make recommendations on how to further improve government services for those who are limited and non-English proficient (LEP/NEP).

Access Denied: The Unfulfilled Promise of the DC Language Access Act, 2012
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This report prepared by the American University Washington College of Law Immigrant Justice Clinic, based on information and data collected by the D.C. Language Access Coalition is a comprehensive analysis of the experiences of DC’s Limited- and Non-English proficient (LEP/NEP) individuals in the eight years since the passage of the 2004 Language Access Act.

District of Columbia State Data Center Monthly Brief: December 2011
DC State Data Center, 2011
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This document contains crucial data about the Hispanic/Latino population in the District of Columbia. It draws together information from the U.S. Census related to population trends, country of origin, race, population distribution by ward, and more.

2010 Portrait of Women & Girls in the Washington Metropolitan Area
Washington Area Women’s Foundation, 2010
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This report details the ongoing opportunities and challenges facing women and girls in the District. In particular, the report highlights the diversity of D.C.’s female population. Close to one quarter of women and girls in our region are foreign born. The report brings together key data on topics including economic security, education, employment, earnings, work supports, housing, health, and violence and safety. The report concludes with a call to action for funders and leaders to rededicate themselves to meeting the needs of women and girls and ensuring that the future for the women of D.C. is bright.

State of Latinos in the District of Columbia
The Urban Institute, 2009
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The Latino population has been steadily increasing in the District of Columbia, and the city’s Latino population has many unique and important qualities that distinguish it from other racial and ethnic groups. This report describes the current state of the Latino population in the District of Columbia and paints a picture of the opportunities and challenges Latinos face today. In this report, researchers from the Urban Institute describe how Latinos are faring in three domains: population and demographics, housing and neighborhood change, and economics and the workforce. They use the most recent data available to compare Latinos with non-Latinos living in the District and to describe trends over time. To supplement the available data, this study also draws on qualitative findings from interviews with officials, community leaders, and service providers to determine how the national recession is affecting Latinos in the District of Columbia. [Abstract drawn from the Urban Institute’s website]

A Place at the Table: Latino Civil Rights Ten Years after the Mount Pleasant Disturbances, Conclusions and Recommendations of the Civil Rights Review Panel
Washington Lawyers’ Committee, 2004
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On the anniversary of disturbances in the Latino neighborhood of Mount Pleasant more than ten years ago, the Washington Lawyers Committee and ten area law firms released a series of reports analyzing and documenting the civil rights barriers faced by Latinos in the Washington, D.C. area. The areas studied as part of this effort were: 1) access to justice; 2) police abuse and communications with police; 3) access to education; 4) access to health services; 5) employment discrimination; 6) housing discrimination, and; 7) immigration policy. A Civil Rights Review Panel composed of national and local experts on Latino issues, including CARECEN’s former Executive Director, Saul Solórzano, guided the preparation of the reports. A Community Advisory Group composed of representatives from the Latino community also provided input and case examples to assist in the development of the reports.

Education Issues in the Latino Community: Latinos are Dropping out of High School at an Alarming Rate
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Year after year, Latino youth continue to represent the majority of high school dropouts. This report deals with the alarming rate of Latinos dropping out of high school from the perspective of students in the D.C. Metro area. This report is the result of months of work by students from the Cesar Chavez Public Policy Charter School with the supervision of CARECEN’s Citizenship and Civic Participation program staff. Over the course of this project, the students dedicated themselves to learning about the issues that affect their community and to working towards solutions to combat disparities in dropout rates.

The State of Latinos in the District of Columbia: Trends, Consequences and Recommendations
Council of Latino Agencies, September 2002
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Latinos contribute in unique ways to the social, economic and cultural growth of the District of Columbia. Combining the spirit of struggle for human rights and self determination in Latin America with the legacy of the African American civil rights movement in the United States, Latinos have worked alongside other D.C. residents to seek fairness in treatment and a better quality of life for all. However, the lack of data on indicators such as Latino student achievement, housing conditions, employment, health status and access to services has restricted the ability to track the characteristics, challenges and contributions of the District’s Latino community. This report combines statistical data, qualitative research findings, and policy analysis to fill these information gaps, identify areas for further research, and generate critical, strategic debate on the future of the city’s development.

Racial and Ethnic Tensions in American Communities: Poverty, Inequality, and Discrimination. Volume I: The Mount Pleasant Report.
A Report of the United States Commission on Civil Rights by Patricia Orloff, 1993
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This report includes the results of extensive field investigation, research, and a 3-day fact-finding hearing in which more than one hundred witnesses testified to the civil rights issues affecting D.C.’s Latino community. The District’s Latino population is a small but rapidly increasing minority group that is predominantly low skilled, poor, and in need of social services. The report concludes that a pattern of police misconduct, government resistance to hiring Hispanics, and a failure to address bilingual service needs have combined to create severe civil rights issues for Latinos in the District.

Police community relations are strained in part due to the District’s Civilian Complaint Review Board’s inability to investigate and process citizen complaints of police misconduct. In addition, Latinos entering the District court system face severe disadvantages due to their lack of familiarity with the system and language barriers. Despite Latino pressure to increase the number of Hispanics in the city government, the number of Latinos in government remains proportionately low. Language and cultural barriers limit access to health and social services for Latino residents. Furthermore, inadequate low-income housing and lack of educational services pose major barriers to inner-city Latinos. The report also considers obstacles to educational opportunity such as insufficient bilingual and English-as-a-Second-Language programs; unequal immigrant access to public schools, especially for limited-English-proficient (LEP) students; problems connected with Latino eligibility for in-state tuition; and communication problems among parents, teachers, and school administrators. The report includes dissenting views by Commissioner Carl A. Anderson, a police department response to the report, and correspondence.