The 35th edition of the annual conference of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus is closing Thursday with a key economic message: fulfilling the demands of the Hispanic community, including immigration reform, will have a positive effect on the economy of the entire country.
Hispanic leaders and experts emphasized at their meeting in Washington the growing potential of the Latino market and the weight of the economy on the election campaign at the same time that they discussed the current situation within the Latino community and the main challenges for the 2013-2017 administration, whether it be Democratic or Republican.
"We have been able to tackle crucial matters for our community for the next four years," Shalimar Alio, the events director for the caucus, told Efe.
In the coming years, the Latino community will be the one with the largest population growth in the United States and the wealth generated by its members could place it among the world's 10 biggest economies, Nielsen has said.
The buying power of the Latino community in 2015 will have grown 50 percent in just five years and will reach $1.5 billion.
So that the U.S. economy as a whole can take advantage of that potential, the authorities should work to fulfill the community's current demands, the members of the caucus emphasized.
"If these conditions don't improve, the middle class will not be able to grow and neither will the economy," Damon Silvers, special advisor to the AFL-CIO, said.
There was unanimity among the experts in emphasizing that comprehensive and bipartisan immigration reform must be achieved during the next four years and that should improve the buying power of millions of Hispanics.
"There is a new consensus that is emerging around the country and whoever wins (the presidential election in November) had to defend that consensus," the executive director of the National Immigration Forum, Ali Noorani, emphasized.
President Barack Obama's administration has not achieved the immigration reform he promised so far during his mandate, but he has repeatedly expressed his support for it.
Yet, there are other challenges in strengthening the Latino community and, along with it, the national economy.
Pilar Montoya, with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, discussed the need for better training for Hispanics so that they can face the new economic opportunities provided in the energy sector and other technological careers.
In the labor sphere, Silvers said that "the Hispanic community is underpaid and underappreciated and has more dangerous jobs than the average in society." EFE