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imagesDear Mr. President,

Despite what some may claim, there is no fixing of the United States economy before immigration reform, for at the end of the day – immigration and economics go hand in hand.

The Bush Center in Dallas, Texas got into the fray of this discourse last month with former U.S. President George W. Bush, making a rare appearance in front of the media to talk about an issue that was near and dear to his heart during his eight years in office. Immigration and economic growth were combined with the session choosing to look at the role immigrants continue to play in the U.S. economy, as well as their contributions to business growth.

police 500x279Traffic stops by police in urban communities go bad far too frequently because of patrol policies that demean and rob minority residents of their dignity -- especially African American males. This writer experienced one such encounter on Dec. 22, 2012, on a cold, wet, drizzly Saturday night at approximately 8:25 p.m.

My 16-year-old son and I were headed to a neighborhood market for dinner, when Inglewood police flashed their lights for me to pull over for a traffic infraction (expired registration). I nervously peered through my rear view mirror. Night stops are often accompanied by cops overstepping the bounds of authority in one way or another.

According to a recent report by the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United States will become the world’s largest oil producer by 2020, producing an estimated 11.1 million barrels a day (mbpd), bypassing Saudi Arabia and Russia. And its imports of oil are dropping rapidly, from a current average of 10 mbpd to an anticipated 4 mbpd in ten years, because of stricter fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. These developments will have important economic and geopolitical implications for Latin America and for U.S.-Latin America relations.

Dramatic reductions in the cost of extracting oil and gas from shale have been made possible by technological breakthroughs known as horizontal drilling and “fracking” (hydraulic fracturing), resulting in a rapid rise in U.S. production.

In January 2004, then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama declared that "the war on drugs has been an utter failure. We need to rethink and decriminalize our marijuana laws ... we need to rethink how we're operating in the drug war." As president, Obama has acknowledged the high price paid by the black community, especially in urban areas, where police forces have used the drug war as an excuse to reinstate old racial codes.

President Obama's re-election has given him the dubious honor of being in a position to right these wrongs. Nov. 6 was not just a victory for him but was also a triumph for progressive ballot initiatives: namely, the decriminalization of recreational marijuana use. This past week might very well mark the beginning of the end of the war on drugs as we know it, with recreational use of marijuana becoming legal in the state of Washington as a result of its citizens' vote. Coloradoans approved a similar measure and established an exchange in which citizens can grow and purchase the drug for medicinal use. A recent Quinnipiac poll shows that 54 percent of Americans support legalizing the drug, while 44 percent oppose it.

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