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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.

CARTOON-Dec. 2012What really is seduction?

It means to play the game that women love, to spend time with them, ply them with food and drink, show interest - feigned, imagined or real - buy flowers and gifts and only then will they offer up their bodies.

But there are strings attached; for with the body comes the mind and soul - things that most men can’t deal with.

Seduction is the ritual that we all have to go through, and no one really is to blame for the games of seduction. Even the so-called lower animals do it, and it’s fascinating to watch them as they do their dance of seduction - until the male gets his just rewards.

What a difference a few days makes! Suddenly, Republican lawmakers have abandoned their ‘self-deportation/build a fence’ platform and are seemingly ready to embrace comprehensive immigration reform.

No more support of states like Arizona and Alabama and their racial profiling immigration laws; no more talk of “anchor babies” and “illegal aliens”. After the November 6 shalacking, based largely on the turnout of the Latino voting bloc of 23.7 million, Republicans are now ready to get in line and bend over.

The former hard liner on the issue, House Speaker John Boehner, suddenly says that comprehensive reform, which includes a pathway to legalization for the undocumented, will be a priority in 2013. And in the Senate, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is teaming up with New York Democrat Chuck Schumer to put together a bipartisan bill that can hopefully pass the Senate.

But as they say, the proof will be in the pudding.

We have gone down this road before under former President George W. Bush, where the famous Ted Kennedy/John McCain Secure America and Orderly Immigration Act of May 12, 2005 got many immigrants excited. We saw more excitement again in 2006 with Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of Senator Arlen Specter. Yet the measures got nowhere and left many at the proverbial altar.

PROMISE

Like you, President Bush had promised to deliver immigration reform for the Latino voters who had helped get him elected in his second term, but failed them because of the extreme right wing segment of his party, including Rep. Lamar Smith, (R) of Texas, who sees any reform as amnesty and refused to budge on anything but the harshest of measures.

So forgive me if I remain only cautiously optimistic. But I agree with you – we have to “seize the moment” and make this issue a top priority come January 2013, especially since Latino and immigrant votes are now up for grabs.

There are now just 11.6 million immigrants living in an undocumented capacity across the United States, home to 309.3 million people. Of the current illegal population, only 14 percent have entered the U.S. since 2005. That means the vast majority have been in the country for years.

Of that number, 56 percent are Mexicans, 22 percent from Latin America, 13 percent from Asia, six percent from the Caribbean and Europe and three percent from Africa. They are all depending on you for some form of relief now that the data proves illegal immigration is down at the Mexican border even as criminal deportation is up.

REQUIREMENTS

So any argument from the right about fixing the border first is mute – you already have! A bill both Democrats and Republicans can agree on quickly should definitely include some of the suggestions put forward by the GOP, including learning English, paying a fine and back taxes, making E-verify mandatory nationwide, giving priority to spouses and children caught up in the sponsorship backlog, overhauling the Labor Certification Program to match qualified workers with urgent work and using biometric data to better track foreign travelers.

But what you and Democrats cannot flip flop on is a pathway to legal status for the many that have been living in this country for decades and contributing to this economy. This is hardly amnesty. What it is, is the smart thing to do – economically, socially and politically. Especially as the Pew Hispanic Center predicts that the Hispanic electorate is likely to double by 2030, up to 40 million.

This is indeed the moment to make immigration reform happen. Enough of the hand wringing! Let’s make this immigration bill a New Year’s gift to all immigrants and line up the votes to make it a reality!

 

The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.

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