Perspectives on the Latino Population in Sussex County

November 1, 2019 arsht

The Delaware Community Foundation commissioned a study of the Hispanic community in Sussex County

This study was conducted by Dr. April Veness and Dr. Jennifer Fuqua, both faculty at the University of Delaware. The study was made possible by a grant from CFLeads to the Delaware Community Foundation.

The study was completed in collaboration with Dr. Christine Cannon, executive director of the Arsht-Cannon Fund at the DCF. La Colectiva de Delaware, along with La Esperanza and many other partners and individuals collaborated and participated in this study. The study was presented to the community on Monday, October 7 at Delaware Technical Community College in Georgetown, Delaware.

Dr. April Veness and Dr. Jennifer Fuqua explained that during the course of the study, four themes emerged: Diversity, Accomplishments, Contributions and Leadership.

First, the Hispanic community in Sussex County is very diverse in terms of country of origin, immigration status, socioeconomic position, and integration process.

They described the first wave of Hispanic immigrants arrived in Sussex County in the 1980s and the 1990s. Many of these Hispanic immigrants were fleeing Civil War, extreme poverty, and natural disasters in Central America.

Second, the Hispanic community in Sussex County has been very successful in the past 30 years at becoming homeowners and business owners. It is believed that between 50% and 70% of Hispanics own their own home.

Third, the Hispanic community has made significant contributions to Sussex County and the State of Delaware as workers and taxpayers. The Hispanic community in Sussex County pay $50 million in tax revenue each year. Hispanics are contributing a youthful population of workers to Sussex County and as a result, Hispanics have a much higher rate of participation in the workforce than any other ethnic group in Sussex County.

Fourth, the Hispanic community in Sussex County has produced leaders and role models in families, in the faith community, in the business community, and in the soccer leagues. Some of the first-generation immigrants and many of the second-generation immigrants are fully bilingual which allow them the opportunity to interpret, translate and advocate for their family and friends.

The study recognized the importance of community leaders such as the Carmelite Sisters of Charity. Sister Ascension Banegas, Sister Rosa Alvarez, and Sister Maria Mairlot who founded La Esperanza in 1995 and helped thousands of Hispanic immigrants and collaborated with others to create non-profit organizations that provide direct services for the Hispanic community.

After the presentation, the audience was invited to attend one of five sessions to discuss the importance of the findings and the next steps in moving forward. The sessions included Family Literacy, Pipelines to Higher Education, Navigation Supports, Youth Leadership, and Navigating the Path to Permanent Residency.

In conclusion, the study documents the accomplishments and the contributions of the Hispanic community in Sussex County over the past 30 years, identifies the current needs and challenges of the Hispanic community in Sussex County and highlights opportunities for individuals and organizations to collaborate and work together to support and ensure the success of the Hispanic community in Sussex County in the future.