Things That Matter

These Historic Moments Defined Life For US Latinos In The US During The Last Decade

The 2010s have been a tumultuous decade for Latinos in the United States. On one hand, Latino culture and Spanish have made huge leaps towards being acknowledged as part of the mainstream. On the other hand, politicians have created a conflictive environment for being Latino in the United States, as immigration policies toughen up and some political discourse becomes borderline racist. These are some of the moments that defined Latino life in the United States in the 2010s. 

1. This is the decade in which we saw Latin American kids locked up in cages.

Credit: CBP / Department Of Homeland Security

This will be perhaps the most infamous fact about the decade. Latinos in the United States saw how migrant kids were locked up in what are actually cages as they were separated from their families and kept under custody of Border Patrol authorities.  

2. Juan Gabriel and Jose Jose died, sending US Latino abuelitas everywhere on a singing spree.

Two of the greatest Mexican singers of all time, adored by tias and abuelitas everywhere, passed away during the decade. Juanga died on 2016 and Jose Jose took his last breath in Miami in 2019. Both deaths were shocking and sent the Spanish-speaking Internet on a meme and condolences frenzy.  

3. DACA was approved by Obama and now Trump wants to get rid of it and the fate of thousands remain uncertain.

Credit: Jeff Chiu / Getty

Barack Obama kept the hopes of millions of DREAMERS alive by pushing DACA, an act that delays action towards people who arrived to the United States as kids and do not have a full citizenship status. As has been the case with most things that Obama did, Trump is now trying to reverse it and DACA sits en la cuerda floja. 

4. Mexican filmmakers ruled over the Oscars, and made strong political statements as they were crowned kings of the movie business.

The Four Amigos, the group comprised by Mexican directors Alfonso Cuarón, Guillermo Del Toro and Alejandro González Iñárritu, along with cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki, dominated the Oscars. The directors won 5 of the Best Director awards of the decade and whenever they took the stage they talked about immigrant rights and basically Latino awesomeness. 

5. Trump made that infamous speech calling Mexican migrants “rapists” among many other racist, wrong, and troubling comments.

Credit: CNN News

In part he said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

He set the tone of his presidency right from the beginning, when he announced he was running. This vile remark drew the ire of the Mexican government and Mexicans in the United States. There is no coming back from words like these. Latino companies started to break business ties with him following the remarks. These words will resonate forever when we think of how Trump began his path to the White House and the tone of his presidency. 

6. Three letterS: A.O.C. Love her or hate her, she has disrupted politics and that is a fact.

Credit: Desus & Mero / Showtime / Giphy

Some people think she us the next big thing in American politics, while others, perhaps not being used to respect women in power, dismiss her as a know-it-all. Fact is that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has redefined the place of Latinas in US politics and is one of the most articulate people in Congress today. 

7. Andy Ruiz Jr became the heavyweight champion of the world (briefly).

It was hard to believe, perhaps too hard. Andy Ruiz Jr, a Mexican-American boxer, became the heavyweight champion of the world in early 2019 by knocking out the undefeated British champ Anthony Joshua. It was a surreal moment that made Latinos proud. Sadly, Ruiz did not train for the rematch, gained weight and was soundly defeated over 12 rounds. 

8. Latino women got more and better representation on mainstream television.

Credit: Jane The Virgin / ABC / Giphy

The 2010s saw two shows in particular that represented Latinas in a more nuanced and truer way than your usual hot mamacita fare. Jane the Virgin and One Day at a Time demonstrated that Latinas can lead a show and be fabulous and intelligent and proud in doing it. 

9. Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017.

Credit: Christopher Gregory / The New Yorker

This fatal event brought out the best and the worst in people. It inspired acts of solidarity both in the island and in the United States, where communities came together to support people in need. But it also brought some nasty comments from some people in power that do not even know that Puerto Ricans are actually US citizens. There were also renewed cries for independence after some considered that the response from the federal government was substandard. 

10. The saddest and most impactful photo of the decade: a father and daughter lose their lives trying to cross the border.

Credit: download. Digital image. La Jornada

This photo travelled the world and became the symbol of the plight of millions of people who try to cross the US-Mexico border. A Central American father and his daughter lay on the Rio Grande, having died by drowning. The photo, originally released by Mexican newspaper La Jornada, became viral and triggered countless discussions about migrant rights. 

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