Tough year for Latinos

The year that ends was very tough for Latinos, especially for undocumented immigrants.

The Latino community is still feeling the severe impact of the Great Recession. Thousands of families had to leave their homes due to foreclosures resulting from the real estate crisis. At the same time, the unemployment and underemployment rates are higher among Hispanics than the national average.

The harmful effects of a rocky economy and budget cuts have negatively impacted Latinos. T he same as low- and medium-income communities and individuals who depend on a service, like in the case of public education. Students have often fallen victim to the inability of states to balance red numbers with revenue increases and not only cuts.

Meanwhile, in 2011 undocumented immigrants became the target of numerous restrictive and discriminatory state laws. Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina, Georgia, Indiana and Utah enacted their own immigration laws, which in some cases were lessened by the courts. The issue of whether or not these laws are constitutional will be decided in 2012.

The good news happened in California, with the arrival of Governor Jerry Brown: DREAM Act laws and a law stopping arbitrary car impounds were approved.

On the other hand, the undocumented did not fare well on a federal level. Under the wide net of the Secure Communities program, the U.S. set a new record for deportations. The majority of those being deported were not the dangerous criminals sought by the program, but fathers and mothers who were separated from their families.

Cooperation between local law enforcement agencies and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) yielded disastrous results; it impacted public safety by undermining the trust between the Latino community and the authorities.

This has been a difficult year, filled with challenges and dangers for Latinos. 2012 will not change the present as if by magic, but there will be elections at all levels next year, so there is hope for positive changes.

La Opinion/impreMedia