A Mixed Year for Latinos

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LOS ANGELES -- Overall, 2010 was a tough year for Latinos. While it brought many hardships, there was also some hopeful news.

The U.S. economy has stabilized over the last 12 months in the aftermath of the Great Recession. 

Nevertheless, millions of jobs lost over the past two years have not returned. This is especially true for Hispanics, who work in sectors like construction, which has not yet experienced a recovery. Unemployment is still very high for Latinos, with few prospects for near or long-term improvement.

This was a record year for deportations of undocumented immigrants. The official explanation was the high numbers resulted from a focus on dangerous criminals, while the unofficial reason was to earn brownie points for an eventual immigration reform. The real impact was that more families were split up. The level of frustration increased even more when Congress failed to pass the DREAM Act. And, as if that were not enough, Arizona passed a law allowing police to identify individuals they believe are undocumented and require them to prove they are legal residents.

On the other hand, the best news this year for the Latino community were the advances in the political realm. California's elections showed an electorate that wanted their votes to count, casting the deciding votes in close races. On the national level, the election of numerous Latino politicians, ranging from governors and U.S. senators to state and local officials, shows a growing Hispanic presence in both political parties.

Finally, the U.S. census showed nationwide growth in the Latino community during the last decade. The census numbers also help explain the phenomenon of new Hispanic elected officials.

Throughout the year, we’ve heard some voices say that Latino immigrants are not part of our country nor our culture. However, in 2010, Latinos have proven that they are an increasingly relevant part of the present and future of the United States.