March 26, 2011 | New America Media | Original Article

New Census Numbers Mean New Responsibilities for Latinos

There are 50 million Latinos in the United States—an enormous number that entails responsibilities, especially for immigrants, who represent a significant percentage of the total.

This fast-growing number also sends a powerful signal to the political establishment that the country’s future is connected to this community’s progress. Today, one out of every six Americans is Latino, as well as one out of every three children. By 2050, an overall racial or ethnic majority will no longer exist, and minorities will become the majority, due in large part to the increase in the Latino population.

Within this context, it is worrisome that members of the Latino community are not ready for a future where they play a central role.

Now is the time to become aware of this reality and obtain the government’s commitment at all levels to strengthening education, so tomorrow’s workforce is prepared to be competitive. A solid health care system is also necessary so young adults stay healthy and become productive citizens who achieve their potential.

President Obama is taking the right steps with the health care reform and a renewed emphasis on education.

Improving the areas of health care and education in the Latino community will have positive effects on society as a whole. To accomplish this, people must stop perceiving Latino immigrants as a threat to be eradicated through deportations, and look beyond the stereotype.

At the same time, Latinos must control their own destiny, as being 50 million strong demands. Otherwise, this number may give them a false, frustrating sense of power because the idyllic dream of Latino unity is unachievable.

The way to start is assuming responsibilities to become active participants of society. For example, by learning English and participating in civic and community events. Immigrants must also respect the local laws and regulations of their new country. They should adapt to their new surroundings rather than wait for everyone to adapt to them.

People who are permanent residents should become citizens and vote, expressing their opinions instead of being anonymous members of a silent majority. Everyone can complain as much as they want, but without solid political participation, complaints have no impact.

The number revealed by the census is a compelling argument for an implicit commitment between government leaders, who have the mission of preparing for the future, and Latinos, who should do everything in their power to be ready for the upcoming years. The destiny of the United States is firmly linked to the future of Hispanics. Recognizing this reality will be a good start.