Friday, May 24, 2024

Comentarios From Maria: We Must Be Optimistic in the New Year


As we start the New Year, let’s take a moment to reflect on the past year’s politics and the hopes and frustrations of our community. Upon further reflection, realize that today, Hispanics are better off economically than we have been in over a decade.

When President Obama took office, our economy was losing over 800,000 jobs a month. The unemployment rate among Latinos rose to over 13 percent. Our community lost more than 65 percent of its economic value when the housing market crashed because many spent all of their savings on buying a home. The dropout rate among Hispanics was 50 percent, and over 33 percent of them lacked the health care they needed.  Deportation relief was virtually nonexistent for our community and there was no hope for immigration reform.

Today, the economy is steadily growing at 5 percent (in the last quarter), and we had 57 months of uninterrupted job growth in the private sector. The Latino unemployment rate is at 6.6 percent. There are more Latinos graduating from high school than ever before, and more of our children are attending college. Furthermore, more than 10 million Latinos can now get affordable health insurance through President Obama’s Affordable Health Care Act.

Although we still do not have permanent immigration reform, thanks to the president’s efforts, DREAMers are protected from deportations, and up to 5 million undocumented immigrants will be shielded from deportation until Republicans decide to get their act together and prove that now that they control both chambers of Congress, they are capable of governing.

But I doubt it. Sadly, the only thing Republicans have offered us is total opposition to the solutions put forth by the president and Democrats, completely blocking immigration reform, and racist and offensive rhetoric against immigrants.

Yet since it is a New Year, I will remain optimistic and hope that Republicans realize they cannot survive as a party in the long-run without doing what is necessary to fix our immigration system. Simply put, they need more Latino votes if they ever hope to see the inside of the White House and not just during a tour.

There is still much to be done. President Obama will not rest until all those who want to work have a job that can provide for their families and give their children brighter futures and until we pass comprehensive immigration reform. May this year bring even better economic news for our community and a Republican Party ready to work with the president and the Democrats to achieve real and permanent immigration reform. Happy New Year friends!

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.