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Latino leaders working to close the disparities in Iowa Hispanic communities

A group of Latino leaders are working to address disparities in the Hispanic community right here in Des Moines.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Alejandro Murguia-Ortiz can't ignore the need for more consideration of the Latino community by those in Iowa who aren't a part of it. 

Murguia-Ortiz, along with other leaders involved with the Iowa Latinx Project, have tried many strategies to help bring awareness to the cause. 

But they believe there is one clear way to get their message heard — data.

"You know, of course, there is the story sharing and a lot of other avenues that we've taken that we'll continue to take," Murguia-Ortiz said. "But what we've seen is that hasn't been enough for a lot of decision makers." 

This is why Murguia-Ortiz decided to be a part of the Iowa Latinx Project — a group that focuses on closing the gaps of knowledge of the Latino community by collecting data. 

"Having the specific data that you know, shows in numbers and some then that is like concrete and measurable seems to be, you know, something that, again, is often needed," Murguia-Ortiz said. 

According to the Iowa Latinx Project's website, the group hopes its "research provides a baseline of data to create actionable steps to address the potential and needs of the community to create a stronger state for everyone."

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League of United Latin American Citizens' Joe Enriques Henry cites the pay gap as one of the main issues in the Latino community in Iowa.

"The median income of Latino households in 2021 was $52,000, whereas overall in the state [it was] $65,600," he said. "When we look at families, the median income of [Latino] families in 2021 was $58,005.65, but the median family income for overall was $84,908.00."

Henry agrees with Murguia-Ortiz's comments on how important it is to have concrete numbers to explain the disparities that affect the community.

"Too many times the knowledge of who we are, what we've done, how long we've been here, has really not been brought to the forefront. It's been assumed that we just got here. No, we have been here over 100 years," Henry said. "But we have been growing exponentially in the last 20 years, playing a key role in many aspects of Iowa."

Henry said that, although Hispanic Heritage Month may be coming to a close, the opportunity to educate yourself on the Latino community should not end.

"We should not stop thinking about the contributions our community provides here in Iowa, because we are part of the fabric, we always have been part of the fabric of Iowa," Henry said.

To view the group's full data set, "Nuestro Iowa," click here.

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