I do not know how U.S. Rep. Dan Newhouse deals with reality, but his statement to the Yakima Herald on Dec. 29 leads me to believe he needs a reality check. Newhouse said, "As our national debt grows, it is more important than ever that we focus on reopening our economy and getting Americans back to work. Individuals and families in Central Washington are struggling, but they want paychecks -- not handouts, which is why I supported the bipartisan relief package President Trump signed into law.”

He supported the relief package President Trump signed into law, but not the $2,000 stimulus check the president also wanted?

The reopening of our economy is what everyone wants, and it does not matter if you lean blue or red. What Newhouse does not acknowledge is the fact that most of his constituents are hard-working people who need the help now. It is just like when a person is drowning, and you are standing by. Instead of throwing a lifeline, you decide to teach him how to swim. Newhouse's concern about reopening the economy is also our concern, but you cannot have a good economy without healthy working people.

Volunteering time within our community has kept me in touch with the reality of the needs and hardships that many are experiencing. Even though many families have made the Yakima Valley their home for many years and have lived in their home that they own, they still do not feel welcome. These are USA citizens, hardworking folks who are made to feel they do not belong here. With COVID-19, their situation has gotten worse.

It is not news anymore that the Yakima Valley has been hit extremely hard by this pandemic. It has devastated the economy for so many and taken the lives of many far too early. Families of color have not only been hit harder financially by this horrific pandemic, but worse than that, families are losing their loved ones in larger numbers then the rest of the community.

According to last year’s November general election data, Yakima County's number of registered voters with Hispanic last names was 35,641. The number of voters that voted was 60%, or 21,220, an exceptionally good number considering our history of disenfranchisement in the electoral process.

According to our state’s Office of Financial Management, Hispanics in Yakima County make up 51.4% of the total population. I think it would be fair to ask Rep. Newhouse to keep up with his constituents, especially those who are quiet and unseen. Knowing more about us would help him keep his finger on the pulse.

The overused misrepresentative slur for any tax money that does not go to the rich, “handout,” has lost its trickery in the time of the coronavirus. Newhouse seems to forget that working individuals are the ones who pay into that “handout” pot. His own paycheck comes from that same pot. Should we call it a handout?

This is not the time to play politics. We are in a pandemic. People are sick, hungry and homeless, and some are dying. I know a $2,000 stimulus check is not going to resolve our dire situation, but it will help those struggling to put food on their table for their kids, pay their light bill, mortgage and rent, and more.

It seems to me that Newhouse is more concerned in keeping in step with his party elites than with most working-class constituents, whom he so poorly represents. It is now more important than ever to have our liberal and conservative representatives, at every level of our democracy, work together toward a healthier outcome for us all.

Ninfa R. Gutierrez is a Latina radio host and activist in the Yakima Valley and a regular contributor to the Herald-Republic's Spanish-language publication, El Sol de Yakima.

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