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Strength In Numbers: A South American Take On U.S. Immigration Reform

The United States is increasingly a Latino nation, which means the time is ripe to make sweeping immigration reform a reality. A view from Bogota, Colombia.

A question of justice and equality
A question of justice and equality
Luis Carlos Vélez

BOGOTA - Latinos today represent nearly 17% of the United States' population, and compose the nation's biggest minority group, ahead of both African-Americans and Asian-Americans.

In the future, the United States’ reflection in the mirror will be more and more similar to ours. The numbers simply cannot be ignored. Already, in the 2011 census, more than one of every two people born between July 2008 and July 2009 was Latino. By 2050, it is expected that there will be more than 133 million Latinos in the U.S., accounting for 30% of the population.

In terms of culture, the influence coming up from the south is already making itself heard. The United States is the second largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, after Mexico.

Despite this fact, many people of Latino origin continue to feel and to be treated as second-class citizens. Latinos continue to be harassed throughout the country, victims of a strongly rooted social stigma. In Arizona, for example, a person can be stopped in the street just on suspicion of being undocumented.

This is why, due to the strength in numbers and harsh conditions faced by some Latino families in the country, it is so important that the Senate passed the recent immigration reform bill. It is the most ambitious initiative to change the system of legalization of Latinos in more than a generation. The way it was adopted by the Senate, 68 votes to 32, was remarkable.

The document, now pending before the House of Representatives, opens the door to the legalization of 11 million undocumented Latinos who have been forced to live in the shadows while toiling each day to contribute to their adoptive nation. It also highlights the important factor of formalizing the situation of thousands of young people called dreamers. They are illegal immigrants’ children who arrived involuntary in the United States when they were minors. By now, they have been assimilated into the culture and want to continue to pursue the "American dream", but are faced with the harsh fact that their illegality denies them this very opportunity.

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2010 protests in Washington - Photo: Arasmus

Pragmatism and justice

This big step has not been granted for free, nor as the product of the generosity of the United States’ politicians. In reality, it is the fruit of their pragmatism. The Democrats have pushed it in order to capitalize on the growing number of Latinos who will eventually become decisive in the voting booth. At the same time, this initiative is a chance for Barack Obama to respond to the unfulfilled promises of his first term, which had seduced Latino voters in 2008. Moreover, this project still faces tough adversaries such as the Tea Party, and several important figures in the Republican Party.

The legislation is also driven by a large economic component, as the United States continues to struggle to pull itself out from the aftermath of the financial crisis. The legalization of Latinos would not only have an immediate positive effect on government coffers -- given that the taxpayer base would grow -- but it would also improve the country's longterm economic growth with the stability that comes from a new wave of consumer-citizens.

Finally, the approval of comprehensive immigration reform is not only a question of numbers, convenience, politics, economics; it is also one of justice and equality for millions of people. Most of them work in the nation's least desirable jobs, in a true effort to give their families a better future. Now it is time for the second part of this historic approval. The ball is in the court of the United States House of Representatives.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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