ACLU of Massachusetts staff attorney Laura Rótolo wrote this guest blog.
By all accounts, the Latino vote was crucial to President Obama's re-election last night. According to exit polls, 71% of Latino voters voted for Obama, up from 67% during the last election. One in ten voters this year was Latino, and that’s just the beginning--every month for the next two decades, 50,000 Latinos will turn 18.
This is a moment for Latinos and Latinas to step back, look at our achievements and demand changes from the administration and Congress we helped put into power.
Many of us were certainly grateful and inspired by the President's administrative version of the Dream Act, a program called "Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals," which grants temporary status to undocumented young people who meet certain criteria. But at the same time, the Obama administration is responsible for record-breaking deportations, at a rate higher than any other president in U.S. history.
The deportation machine, which costs over $5 billion a year and has deported over 1.2 million people in the past four years, hurts Latinos the most. It breaks apart families and devastates communities.
Latino voters now realize that we have a voice, and immigration issues are personal for us. Most of us know someone who is undocumented, and many of us know someone who has been detained or deported.
The time to argue for an end to massive deportations could not be better. Net migration from Mexico is at zero, maybe even less. Crime levels around the country are at low levels. The economy needs strong communities of workers and consumers. Social Security needs the hundreds of billions of dollars that undocumented workers put into it and never get back.
It’s time for Latinos to stand together and demand humane, common-sense immigration reform. Our votes count on Election Day. Our voices should count every other day of the year.
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