November 30th, 2011
03:12 PM ET

Opinion: Maria Cardona: Latinos don't have to pick one political identity

Editor's note: Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist, a principal at the Dewey Square Group, a former senior adviser to Hillary Clinton and former communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

By Maria Cardona, CNN Contributor

(CNN) - Last week’s Republican debate brought some interesting surprises. As a Latina Democrat, the biggest one I saw was Newt Gingrich’s defense of a legalization program for undocumented immigrants who have roots in the community and pose no threat to society.

Herman Cain has “joked” about an electrified fence on the border. Michele Bachmann can’t stop talking about her outrage at “anchor babies.” Mitt Romney, in an effort to make himself look like an immigration hardliner, has disavowed any past stances that would make him look soft on the issue. Most of the GOP candidates have gone to “kiss the ring” of Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio - arguably the most anti-immigrant law enforcement officer in the nation. So Gingrich’s new found “compassion” stands in stark contrast to the rest of the GOP field, who have tripped over each other to show who is most right-wing on immigration.

But how will all this play out for Latinos in 2012? Is the community divided?  Will they stay home in 2012?  Will they still support this president or will Gingrich create a new opening for the GOP with Latinos?


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Filed under: Latino in America • Politics • What we think
Opinion: To help the United States, help Latinos lead
Latino Leadership Initiative participants met with astronaut Jose Hernandez.
November 28th, 2011
06:00 AM ET

Opinion: To help the United States, help Latinos lead

Editor’s note: David Gergen is a senior political analyst for CNN and has been an adviser to four presidents. He is a professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Follow him on Twitter: @David_Gergen. Michael Zuckerman is David Gergen’s research assistant.

By David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, and Michael Zuckerman, Special to CNN

(CNN) – One doesn’t have to be Hispanic to recognize the importance of the Latino population to America’s future. With the Hispanic population in America up 43% during the past decade and projected to comprise nearly one-third of the U.S. population by 2050, our nation’s future is increasingly bound up with the fate of Hispanics. If Hispanics go up, we all go up; if they fall, look out below.

Unfortunately, nationwide social conditions are now looking grim. According to a recent report from Pew Hispanic Center, there are now more Latino children living in poverty – 6.1 million – than any other racial or ethnic group. The recession-impacted number is up a whopping 36% from 2007. (Poverty for white and black children was up 17.6% and 11.7%, respectively).

The education gap between whites and Hispanics at grades eight and 12 has persisted at roughly the same level since 1994, while the Hispanic dropout rate - 17.6% - remains nearly twice as large as that 9.3% rate of black students and more than three times the 5.2% rate of white students. Clearly, we are not doing all that we could be, and will reap the whirlwind if we continue to allow such a burgeoning part of our population to grow up impoverished and without a proper education.

How to solve this impending crisis? While there are many valuable ideas out there, one we would highlight is the nurturing of leadership capacity and civic engagement, particularly in the rising generation.


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Filed under: Education • Latino in America • What we think
November 25th, 2011
07:00 AM ET

Whatever happened to...Nancy Guarneros, undocumented student, DREAM Act hopeful?

By Thelma Gutierrez, CNN

(CNN) - When we first met Nancy Guarneros three years ago, she was a 21-year-old honors student at University of California, Los Angeles working cash jobs as a tutor and babysitter to pay her way. At the time, she was applying for graduate programs.

One by one, letters of acceptance came in: Harvard, Brown, Columbia.

But Nancy couldn’t afford them on her own, and wasn’t eligible for financial aid. In her senior year of high school, when she asked her mother for a birth certificate to apply for a California driver’s license, she learned she was an undocumented immigrant.


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Filed under: Education • Immigration • Latino in America
November 22nd, 2011
10:00 AM ET

Opinion: Chaz Bono: 'Stop focusing on the ways we're all different'

Chaz Bono is an LGBT rights advocate, an author, a recent "Dancing with the Stars" cast member and the only child of entertainers Sonny and Cher. On November 27, "Being Chaz," a documentary follow-up to the Emmy-nominated "Becoming Chaz," will debut on The Oprah Winfrey Network. It follows his life after transitioning from female to male.

He's in the public eye now, but grew up in the limelight of a very different America - ethnically, racially, socially. When CNN Entertainment asked Bono to discuss his view of today’s America, he said the country has progressed, but is more divided than he ever thought it could be.


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Filed under: Gender • How we look • Pop culture • What we think
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