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Posted Thursday, May 24, 2012       
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Photo of chool lookers
                                 Photo courtesy New America Media

 

This situation had already been predicted. People can complain as much as they want and long for the past, but demographic changes are irreversible. In reality, this is good news if it is accompanied by the actions needed for generational turnover to be successful.

Right now, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are more children younger than one in the United States from racial and ethnic minorities (50.4%) than white (49.5%). The information confirms the aging trend of the Anglo population, which has a median age of 42, compared for example with the Latino community's median age of 27, their peak reproductive years.

The good news is that there is a potential workforce that can gradually take over as workers retire. In Europe, immigration has been covering this gap, while in our country, the children of immigrants and natives will be the ones doing it.

The problem is that the current track record of educating and preparing minority students to enter the workforce is awful. A college education is the most important tool for a successful and satisfactory career, a good salary, the buying power to contribute to the economy and the ability to pay taxes to help support retirees.

But part of the population is having a hard time understanding the changes. They would like to see the United States as a society frozen in time, without realizing that from its beginnings until today, ours has been a changing, dynamic society of European origins, with Native Americans, slavery, waves of immigration and great economic transformations. The birth rate is a sign that must be understood to be able to take action.

As a case in point, instead of wasting time developing proposals to strip the children of undocumented immigrants of their citizenship, why not think of how to educate them and prevent the high rate of school dropouts that negatively impacts African Americans and Latinos? We need to prepare these young people, the sons and daughters of immigrants who worked hard to contribute to past economic bonanzas, to join the workforce. The history of generations replacing each other is the history of the United States.

In addition to the blindness of the anti-immigrant movement that is swarming around many states, there is a wave to cut investments in education to tackle government deficits. Priorities are misguided when temporary political pressure blocks a vision that goes beyond today's tax hikes or cuts.

It will take years until minorities become the majority population in the U.S., but the date looms on the horizon. Closing the eyes and ignoring this fact is irresponsible. Wanting to deport these children and deny them opportunities, as happens now with the dreamers of the DREAM Act, is long-term suicide. The future is in our hands, and depends on how we prepare the next generation by giving them opportunities to succeed. Their success will be everyone's success.

 

This article is reprinted from New America Media. It originally appeared in La Opinión on May 17, 2012.

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