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Democratic National Convention 2012: Understanding the Importance of the Latino Vote

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This week, we all witnessed San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro give the keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. He spoke with eloquence, inspiration and admiration about his mother, his heritage and his story. He reminded us all that in this country, it’s not what you look like or where you come from that matters, but your love, tenacity, hard work and values that make a person worthy of a chance at the American DREAM–a very important reminder and, as Mayor Castro mentioned, something we should pass down through generations.

After such an exciting night, the second day of the DNC has proven to be a busy one when it comes to events regarding immigration and Latinos, further illustrating the importance of the Latino vote in future elections and the need to appeal to this growing block of the electorate.

The day started with a panel put together by NDN titled “Celebrating our Progress: Perspectives on Immigration and The US-Mexico Border”. The panel featured prominent speakers like Mexican Ambassador to the U.S. Arturo Sarukhan, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, Representative Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX), founder of Define American Jose Antonio Vargas, Political Director of United We Dream Gaby Pacheco and others. It focused on policy, the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico, the role of immigration, and the need to reform our laws and adapt them to deal with the new migration of the last decade. The fact of the matter is that immigrants are no longer crossing the border and going back after a period of time.  They are here to stay and our immigration policies need to address and reflect that change.

The second event of the day highlighted the political implications of a growing Latino electorate and through that, immigration. The National Journal/Univision/ABC panel titled: “The Democratic Party in Tomorrow’s America: The Hispanic Surge and the New Landscape of American Politics” asked nothing short of tough questions to all panelists. With a great line-up – San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro; Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA); Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice; and Janet Murguia, CEO of the National Council of La Raza — the conversation mostly revolved around the politics of immigration and the Latino vote and vulnerabilities and liabilities for both parties.

The past two days have been indicative of the importance of the growing Latino vote and its power to shape this election.  With one new Latino or Hispanic turning 18 every 30 seconds in America, neither party can forget that.