I come from a working class background and have spent my adult life juggling family and career commitments to an organization that works to advance the interests of the Latino community. After a decade of fighting for comprehensive immigration reform, we are close to seeing that become a reality. We continue to stand together in support for immigration reform which will bring millions of undocumented brothers and sisters out of the shadows.
It is clear that the Latino community is succeeding and becoming more of a political force. Today, people of Hispanic origin make up this nation's largest ethnic minority, totaling 50.5 million, according to the 2010 census. Over the last decade, the number of Latino eligible voters has increased, from 13.2 million in 2000 to 21.3 million in 2010. Our growing population has extended to the labor force and has helped contribute to our increased purchasing power. It is estimated that the Latino purchasing power now exceeds 1.2 trillion. Latino business owners are also growing at more than twice the national average.
Throughout time we have remained committed to the ideal of equality that is at the core of our American identity. And, today, our country remains a beacon of unbridled opportunity for those who work hard and play by the rules.
- Margaret Moran, National President of LULAC
I am also proud to say that the Latino community is diverse, complex and impossible to put in a box. We are Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, South and Central Americans. We are diverse ethnically, socioeconomically, and by our faith. We are business owners, labor advocates, educators, public officials, Democrats, Republicans and Independents.
Most significantly however, we share the same concerns and hopes as most American families. We care about our children’s education, the state of the economy, healthcare costs, and the civil rights of all Americans. Whether undocumented; recent resident alien; or an American citizen, the Latino community is just that – a community united by a common culture and the ability to love both a new country because it holds a future of opportunity and our country of origin for holding our past.
LULAC is committed to ensuring that the voice of the Latino community is heard. During this past year, LULAC conducted a civic engagement campaign entitled “The Future is in Your Hands: Vote” which reached over 123,000 individuals through volunteer recruitment, training, voter registration, get-out-the-vote activities, and social media in states like Nevada, Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and 24 other states. Also, we launched an exciting new campaign called “I Voted for Immigration” which has generated 9,000 petitions to Members of Congress asking them to support Comprehensive Immigration Reform.
LULAC was founded by a group of young Latinos who wanted to change the social conditions that put them at a disadvantage during the 1920s. Today, we stand at the precipice of significant change that could impact the Latino community for generations to come. Our country has a rich complicated history. Our defining moments have been the result of controversial decisions that challenged us to improve the current conditions so that all Americans could benefit – like the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Out of a painful civil rights era, that could have divided us, we emerged a united country — married to the notion that the values we stood for were worth our sacrifice. Throughout time we have remained committed to the ideal of equality that is at the core of our American identity. And, today, our country remains a beacon of unbridled opportunity for those who work hard and play by the rules.
I believe we are once again at a defining moment in the story of America. But, the question remains, will this nation of immigrants live up to its ideals of equality and opportunity by passing fair and just immigration reform or will we fail to act and leave millions of families without hope and in the shadows?
LULAC applauds the progress that a bipartisan group of Senators and Representatives are making towards a comprehensive immigration bill. We believe that this legislation must create an earned pathway to citizenship for the 11 million Americans without documents in our communities. We believe it must unite all our families including our LGBT brothers and sisters. We believe it must create a sound legal immigration system to replace the broken one we have now. In short, we believe that this comprehensive immigration bill must live up to our nation’s highest ideals and in that there can be no negotiation.
Margaret Moran is National President of The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC).