The West Front of the Capitol in Washington is dressed in red, white and blue with two days to go before the 57th Presidential Inauguration and President Obama's second inauguration, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

The West Front of the Capitol in Washington is dressed in red, white and blue with two days to go before the 57th Presidential Inauguration and President Obama’s second inauguration, Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Op-ed: 2013 is the year for change in the Latino community

Over 50 million Hispanics live in the U.S. today. They boast one trillion in buying power and make up over 10 percent of the electorate. There is no doubt the Hispanic community is gaining influence, but with power, comes responsibility. I hope this year will mark the highest level of civic engagement amongst our community to date.

We, as Hispanics, are homeowners, entrepreneurs, and elected officials – and we must engage on the issues that are most important, the ones that affect us on a daily basis. Whether we like it or not, the government is in our lives from the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to sleep. The government can run our lives, or we can choose to be part of making it better.

While Hispanics are making gains, we still struggle in certain areas. The Hispanic unemployment rate is 9.6 percent and we have the highest high-school dropout rate at 15.1 percent, yet small business and education top our most important issues. Something doesn’t add up. That is why at the Hispanic Leadership Network (HLN) we engage the Hispanic community on center-right issues that will restore opportunity and prosperity in America.

The United States is successful because of our diverse community. We bring different perspectives together in hopes of reaching a common goal: a stronger, more prosperous country.  In order to achieve this goal, we must be involved.

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For this reason, HLN plays a vital role in our community. Hispanics must engage in the political system that values them so highly. Our work doesn’t end until everyone’s voice is heard.

How do we go about engaging our community? Through an innovative, dynamic and systemic plan at the local, state, and national levels. As we continue to expand our team, the strength, organization, and results will be second to none.

What are we focusing on this year? The economy, education, and immigration.

On the economy, the United States can no longer operate like it has unlimited funds. We do not have infinite resources and it is time the federal government lived within its means. We desperately need to address the skyrocketing debt that burdens our nation today, and will gravely impact our children and our grandchildren. If we continue on our current track, the prosperous country we love will cease to exist; we will leave this country worse off than we inherited it. Hispanics, and all Americans, cannot afford more tax and spend policies. Instead we must face our economic situation and work together to put our economy back on the right track.

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When it comes to education, we cannot forget that our children are the future doctors, business owners, lawyers, and leaders of our nation. Ensuring that they have the opportunity to receive the best education possible is our responsibility. The future of not only our community, but the country at large depends on it.

Our immigration system is broken. We must tackle this issue now. There is no way around it. It must be confronted head on and solved with long-term, bipartisan legislation and it must be this year.

The time to act is now. We need an engaged community to invest in our great country’s status as a strong nation and leave a thriving country for future generations to inherit.

Jennifer Korn Bio Photo

Jennifer S. Korn is Executive Director of the Hispanic Leadership Network. Previously, she served in President George W. Bush’s White House as Director of Hispanic Affairs.

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