This year marks La Voz Latina's 10th anniversary and I look back on all that has happened since 2002 with mixed emotions of happiness and disappointment.
I'm grateful that our staff has been able to provide so much news and information to such a vital and growing segment of our population but I'm also disappointed to admit that today we seem farther away than ever from our goal of comprehensive immigration reform.
I'm grateful for the many new friends we've made and I'm even proud of our enemies, those who have condemned our support for immigration reform over the past 10 years. If you go through life offending no one, you have nothing to be proud of because you obviously believe in nothing.
2012 promises to be a very important year in the political life of our nation. If you believe the polls, it is entirely possible we will elect a new president when November rolls around.
Latino voters invested a tremendous amount of hope in Barack Obama when they helped him become our nation's 44th President in 2008. But by 2011, much of that hope had soured as the Obama administration deported a record number of undocumented immigrants for the third straight year. This disappointment was tempered somewhat last fall when new directives were issued encouraging immigration officials to defer the deportations of individuals pursuing an education or having strong family ties in the U.S.
I find it very interesting that both of the current Republican frontrunners, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney, have acknowledged that future immigration reform should include special provisions for the many longterm immigrants who have lived law-abiding lives since arriving here.
Their stance may be at odds with vocal members of the Tea Party who have set themselves up as kingmakers for the 2012 Republican Primaries but it is very much in agreement with the estimated 72% of US citizens (from both political parties) who say that comprehensive immigration reform should include a pathway to citizenship for the undocumented.
In addition to likely changes in political leadership, 2012 promises to be a year of legislative change as well.
2011 brought us a series of draconian laws enacted by legislatures around the country wishing to drive undocumented workers out of their states.
Among the unintended consequences of these laws for Georgia and Alabama were millions of dollars worth of crops left to rot in fields. Today, many cities in those states fear that new laws requiring additional paperwork and licensing requirements will create additional expenses at a time when tax revenues continue to fall. Things are bad enough that some Republican leaders in those states are calling for these laws to be reviewed and possibly softened.
You may not see the phrase 'Vote for us, we're not hateful and mean' on a political bumper sticker any time soon, but Republican Senator Gerald Dial was sincere when he made that comment in the Alabama statehouse last month while discussing plans to review Alabama's immigration reforms.
The future of all state immigration laws is almost certain to be shaped by the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last month to consider arguments over sections of Arizona's immigration law enacted in 2010. Among them is a requirement that police question people they stop about their immigration status.
Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina all have laws with similar provisions. But supporters of comprehensive immigration reform are uncertain whether or not the US Supreme Court will rule in their favor. One blow to their optimism came when Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, who as solicitor general was involved with lower cases against the law, abstained from the Supreme Court's decision to hear the case and recused herself from the final ruling.
I was very grateful last month when the US Justice Department declared that Phoenix Sheriff Joe Arpaio had carried out a blatant pattern of discrimination against Latinos and held a "systematic disregard" for the Constitution. One consequence of this move was the decision by the the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to sever its ties with Arpaio and strip his jail officers of their federal power to check whether inmates in county jails are in the county without documents.
Finally, I am especially grateful for the faithful support of the advertisers whose ads appear in our publication each month and also for your support of their businesses. The rotten economy has made it very difficult for many of them to continue operation and without your continued support neither they nor we could survive.
So Happy New Year! And if you have any family connections with those people who devised the Mayan Calendar many thousands of years ago, please drink a toast to their memory and beg them to forget about that little apocalypse they promised for December 21st!