Immigrant Powered: a bold initiative uplifting Latinxs’ contribution to the U.S.

The dangerous immigration policies of this administration have us on alert. With so many of us in a constant state of fear, it can make it easy to forget to celebrate ourselves and everything we contribute to American life.


Source: ImmigrantPowered.org

There’s no better time to remind ourselves of our accomplishments than Hispanic Heritage Month! Stickers like the one below are doing just that; making it visible to the world that we’re proud of where we come from and that we mean business!


Source: ImmigrantPowered.org

Immigrant Powered is a grassroots initiative that highlights the positive economic impact of immigrants in our communities, empowers businesses powered by immigrants, and connects small businesses with opportunities for advocacy around responsible immigration policy. 


Source: ImmigrantPowered.Org

To say that we’re an asset to the American economy is an understatement. The presence of all immigrant workers in the labor market grows our GDP an estimated 11% each year, and for every 10,000 immigrants to the U.S., about 62 will start a business — more than double the rate for native-born Americans.


Source: @immigrantpower1 Twitter feed

Whether you’re the child of immigrants or are an immigrant yourself, you’re Immigrant Powered. Take pride in your immigrant heritage with your very own Immigrant Powered sticker! Visit www.immigrantpowered.org to get one delivered straight to your mailbox!

Join us as we lift up how immigrants shape our country’s local economies for the better.

Carmen exemplifies the power and spirit of the Latinx vote

Carmen Emilia Hernandez de Jimenez registered to vote on the same day her naturalization ceremony was held./Stephanie Whitfield/KHOU

It’s never too late to vote. Carmen Emilia Hernandez de Jimenez knows. The Colombian native who lives in Katy, Texas, became a U.S. citizen just weeks before her 103rd birthday. This matriarch of five generations was so eager to have her voice count, that she registered to vote on the same day of her naturalization ceremony! 

Latinxs still vote in lower numbers compared to their non-Latinx counterparts, but as our population keeps growing, it’s more important than ever for us to register to vote so we can put the right people into office. If you haven’t registered yet, September 24 is National Voter Registration Day, which hopes to get more citizens to participate fully in our Democracy.   

Carmen Emilia Hernandez de Jimenez registered to vote on the same day her naturalization ceremony was held./Stephanie Whitfield/KHOU

Carmen raised her children to believe in the power of their vote to create positive change. She conveyed a strong sense of civic duty, something we all should pass on to our children so that voting becomes second nature for our community. 

The Latino vote is more critical than ever and will be influential during the 2020 election./latinheat.com

The good news is that younger Latinxs are making changes. They voted in record-breaking numbers during the 2018 midterm elections, with 27% of Latinxs overall voting for the first time. During the 2020 election, one third of eligible voters will be people of color and 1 in 10 will be naturalized citizens. 

There’s no question, Latinxs will help determine the election outcome in November 2020.

Will our next President support immigration?

The third Democratic Presidential debate on September 12 will help us choose our favorite of the 11 candidates. 

And, let’s face it, it’s hard to be Latinx today without having to defend ourselves. We’ve been criminalized by Trump, harassed for speaking Spanish in public, unjustly jailed and even massacred for being Latinxs. 

The next POTUS needs to show us respect and support. Where they stand on immigration informs how they’ll deal with DREAMers, immigrant children caged at the border, a path towards citizenship, and cleaning up our toxic political climate. 

Here’s what candidates say: 


“We need to decriminalize our immigration system and go back to treating it as a civil violation.” Julián Castro,

“We can affirm our values as a country and have immigration systems that support our economy, that grow our country, and that make sure that we stay secure and strong.” Cory Booker

 “We need to pass comprehensive immigration reform, period.” Kamala Harris

 “I think the biggest problem we’ve got right now starts down in Central America.” Elizabeth Warren

“The biggest crisis around immigration today is the inhumanity of this administration’s policies.” Pete Buttigieg

“Undocumented immigration is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to rewrite our laws that are in accord with our values.” Beto O’Rourke

“The key here is to have a system where we have order at the border, but we also have comprehensive immigration reform and a path to citizenship.” Amy Klobuchar

“We have over 12 million undocumented immigrants here in America and that is a major problem.” Andrew Yang

“It is certainly not the kind of problem that Donald Trump makes it out to be.” Bernie Sanders 

“We have to find a pathway to citizenship, earned citizenship, for the 11 million undocumented [immigrants].” Joseph R. Biden Jr. 

Not speaking Spanish doesn’t make you less Latinx

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro./ Illustration by Selman Design,/Photography by Isaac Brekken for The New York Times. 

Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro endured harsh criticism for not speaking Spanish despite growing up in a Latinx household. He is not alone, countless Latinxs carry the burden of shame for not being bilingual, without realizing the historical reasons their parents and grandparents’ generations were forced to discard their language.

Julián explained that not speaking Spanish has nothing to do with a lack of pride in his heritage, and pointed his critics to the long history of cultural and societal shame and rejection that resulted in the erasure of his mother tongue. But he still announced his presidential run in both languages!

In the Castro family, refraining from speaking Español started when his grandmother (who arrived in the US in 1922) was punished for speaking Spanish in school. Later, the punishments continued when his mother was growing up. This, along with many other expectations to conform, resulted in Latinx families like Julián’s internalizing oppression and encouraging their children to speak English only. The consequences are that these families now speak little to no Spanish. 

Spanish language meme./playadelcarmen.org 

Language does not define how “Latinx” someone is. College Spanish professor Roberto Rey Agudo says that there is nothing wrong with Julián’s Spanish, and argues that the problem is the prejudice some people have toward Latinxs who don’t speak Spanish. The focus is on what is missing instead of what is there, he says. In his case, Julián was ostracized for not speaking Spanish instead of focusing on his achievements and the magnitude of his standing as the only Latinx presidential candidate. Meanwhile, people commended candidates like fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke for speaking Spanish. 

Roberto says Julián never hid from the fact he can’t speak Spanish well, and argues that people should focus on the attributes that make Julián a stand out candidate and appreciate his sincere efforts to reconnect with his cultural language. 

Language is a part of our cultura, but it doesn’t exclusively define us as Latinxs. Looking at historical paradigms that have erased our language should soften our judgment.

Why Adrianna Quintero founded Voces Verdes

Adrianna Quintero reimagined as a climate justice comic book superhero./Dan Goldman for Yes Magazine.

Despite the tremendous mark her environmental work has made on the world, Adrianna Quintero hasn’t found peace. That’s because the earth’s resources are under threat and most people don’t seem to grasp that it could mean the end of the world as we know it. 

Adrianna Quintero speaks at a Bioneers Conference./YouTube screenshot.

Every year, Adrianna nervously anticipates the listing of U.S. regions with the most air pollution. She “feels a pang” when she sees all top five regions listed are in her home state of California, and are usually relatively low-income and heavily Latinx. This means our gente is breathing the dirtiest air. That reflects the reality that our most vulnerable populations tend to suffer the greatest consequences from climate change. 

Los Angeles smog./ scphysiciangroup.com

Adrianna took matters into her own hands by founding Voces Verdes in 2009. The organization builds environmental leadership among Latinxs to support sustainable environmental progress. Voces Verdes specializes in climate change, clean energy, clean air and clean water and they recruit leaders and other individuals to testify at congressional hearings, meet with legislators and serve as spokespeople. Their goal is to highlight the importance of strong and effective environmental policies. 

By giving power back to the people, Adrianna ensures our gente has a voice at the table when it comes to everything from clean energy to strong carbon limits and healthier air. In 2018, Adrianna went to work with the Energy Foundation, but her legacy and vision continue as the Voces Verdes team goes to task to advocate for a healthy Madre Tierra. 

Is the future Latina?

The Future is Latina T-shirt./The Future is Latina Etsy Shop (currently on hiatus).

You’ve heard the empowering phrase, “The future is female.” Did you know that if we want to get specific, the future is actually Latina? Just ask college counselor Briana Roman. 

The Future is Latina T-shirt./The Future is Latina Etsy Shop (currently on hiatus).

Briana’s Puerto Rican 🇵🇷 mom had her when she was 22, and envisioned a path for her daughter that included school 🎓 career 🏦 and then a family. Briana fulfilled that vision by juggling college and work, and graduating within five years. She also found time to do internships that prepared her for her current career at Barnard College. 

America Ferrera

Briana plans to wait about 10 years to establish herself professionally before adding a family to the mix. This is in line with the path more Latinas are forging for themselves in the U.S. They take advantage of education and other opportunities.

Latina purchasing makeup./Cosmopolitan/Getty Images.

Latina millennials like Briana also have deeper pockets than their parents, which means they have more to contribute to the economy. The consumer economy, especially retail, has caught on to this group’s buying power and knows that these women eventually become heads of households. They’re increasingly wooing them with groceries, clothing, makeup and other products targeted at them specifically. 

Together, Latinxs account for $1.5 trillion, or 10.4% of total U.S. buying power. That’s a 212% jump since 2000. And it’s not slowing down anytime soon, given that Latinxs will make up 30% of the U.S. population by 2060. It’s about time the economy sees the true value of our mujeres.

These El Pasoans bring hope, despite sadness

Christina Pipkin embraces Alex Briseno at a makeshift memorial at the site of an El Paso mass shooting./John Locher/AP

El Paso native Carlos Sanchez sees his city as a powerful symbol and place for immigrants to take refuge from the violence and devastation in their home countries. 

The Texas Monthly writer is no stranger to the resilience and strength that unites El Pasoans,  and was not surprised that his townsfolk answered the call for help after the mass shooting that claimed the lives of 22 people. Countless donated blood or money toward fundraisers for survivors, funeral homes provided free services to victims’ families and leaders such as Rep. Veronica Escobar publicly reprimanded President Trump’s anti-immigrant remarks for fueling the assassin to act on his hate against Latinxs.

El Paso 11-year-old boys encourages others to take part in El Paso Challenge./Rose Gandarilla for KFOX 14.

But out of the ashes of hatred and loss, comes hope and proof that Latinxs are resilient and supportive. One example is 19-year-old Tabitha Estrada, who was at the GNC vitamin outlet at the front of Walmart, when she heard about the massacre. Tabitha took everyone she could into a locked room where they waited until police arrived. 

Ruben Martinez, an 11-year-old sixth grader wanted to help his community heal and created the #ElPasoChallenge, which asks people to do 20 acts of kindness to spread love instead of hate, and to honor the lives lost. 

Baseball coaches-turned-heroes Jimmy Villatoro and Ray Garcia appeared on “Good Morning America,” to talk about saving two mothers and a group of kids in the aftermath of the Walmart shooting in El Paso./Good Morning America.

Two El Paso dads saved a youth soccer team, helped raise funds for victims and proudly wear “El Paso Strong” T-shirts. This is the El Paso that Carlos hopes outsiders will get to know, and these are the positive responses that will help our wounded community heal and reemerge stronger. 

Our military has plenty of Latinxs, but few reach the top

Olga Custodio./Latina Style Magazine

Olga Custodio didn’t intend to become a Latina trailblazer. But she is! Olga is the first Latina U.S. Air Force pilot who retired as a Lieutenant Colonel. 

Olga Custodio/Fox News

After 24 years of  service in the Airforce, Olga embarked on a 20-year-long career as a commercial pilot for American Airlines. She retired as a Captain with more than 11,000 hours of flight time, and made it into the San Antonio Aviation and Aerospace Hall of Fame for her remarkable achievements. 

Olga Custodio/Pinterest

People of color in the military./blog.globalknowledge.com

A study by Casaba Group, a Latinx veterans organization, shows that from 1995 and 2016, only one Latinx became a three-star general. This is abysmal, especially since 17% of all active-duty enlisted service members are Latinxs, which mirrors the 17.5% general U.S. population that is Latinx.

Latinos in the military./bing.com

Top Latinx military officials say part of the problem is that the military piles enlistments and promotions of people of color in one bundle. They also cite our culture’s lack of self-promotion as a potential culprit in career advancement. 

Ultimately, military leadership needs to intentionally promote diverse candidates instead of falling into unconscious bias traps of hiring people who look like them. We need more success stories like Olga’s!

After almost 5 years in foster care, 6 Latinx kids are adopted, together!


Steve Anderson-McLean and Rob Anderson-McLean of Pennsylvania, adopted Carlos, 14, Guadalupe, 13, Maria, 12, Selena, 10, Nasa, 9 and Max, 7, on May 23, 2019. Courtesy of Steve Anderson-McLean

Loving couple Steve and Rob Anderson-McLean of Pittsburg happily raised two sons from a previous marriage. But when the boys reached adulthood, the dads felt like something was missing.


Steve and Rob Anderson-McLean /Courtesy of Steve Anderson-McLean.

They realized they felt a draw to expand their family and began exploring adoption. But they didn’t want to add just one child to their clan.


Courtesy Steve Anderson-McLean

Inspired after seeing a story on TV of another couple who adopted siblings because they didn’t want them torn apart, Steve and Rob decided to do the same thing.

They “instantly fell in love” with six Latinx siblings 🤗 ages 7 to 14 from Ohio: Carlos, Guadalupe, Maria, Selena, Nasa and Max. The kids had been in foster care for 1,640 days, nearly five years, after suffering abuse and neglect. And the siblings have been with the two dads ever since.


Courtesy of Steve Anderson-McLean

This inspiring story reminds us that there is still a great need for adoptive parents, particularly of male children, and children of color. The Data Center reports that nearly 26,000 Latinx kids in the U.S. await adoption. Meanwhile, the Adoption Network Law Center reports there are more males in need of adoption than female, half are over 6 years old, and Black children are less likely to be adopted. Even sadder, is the fact that 73% of adoptive parents are non-Latinx white, which means more of our gente needs to rise to the challenge and save our pequeños from further neglect and harm.

How two queer Latinxs brought their classmates closer together

Social cliques, school tests, acne, crushes and heartbreaks. These are healthy but high-pressure realities for teenagers as they find their identity.

Natalie Rincones and Clarissa Lopez at senior prom / Jotxs y Recuerdos on Facebook

But for some teens, expressing their true identity is more challenging when it goes against the status quo. Such was the case for Natalie Rincones and Clarissa Lopez, two queer students who happen to be a couple and who were instrumental in creating the Gay-Straight Alliance at Los Fresnos High School in South Texas 🙌

Natalie Rincones and Clarissa Lopez at senior prom / Jotxs y Recuerdos on Facebook

They were only sophomores when they first got involved and confronted backlash from the community, which is largely composed of conservative, Catholic families who disapprove of LGBTQ+ relationships. The GSA group they helped form gave them and their peers a supportive network they couldn’t find in other campus organizations.

GSA artwork, Google/Wikipedia

True to their bold and courageous personalities, the young couple attended their senior prom this spring, dressed in impeccable outfits, big smiles and a can-do attitude despite any frowns of disapproval from classmates. Their outlook and efforts inspire Latinxs young and old, including a 1980s high school graduate who told them she wished she’d had the guts to do what they did when she was in school.

The Los Frenos GSA is just one in a growing number of these groups in campuses across the U.S., creating a space where teens can feel accepted to find their true selves. As we celebrate Pride Month, Natalie, Clarissa and many young Latinxs are at the forefront of a this movement.