11/17/2011 08:04 am ET | Updated Jan 17, 2012

Dollars And Dreamers: How Latino Immigrants Can Save Main Street

Being of Mexican descent in the USA comes with a host of issues. Most of them negative. Invader. Illegal. Unwanted.

And yet, as a Mexican-American born in Tucson, Arizona, I was taught that our path in this country is largely a positive one. Entrepreneurial. Diligent. Proud.

When my grandparents decided to move to the United States, it was in pursuit of making a better life for their new family. My grandmother once told me that America is the only place she'd ever raise children. She loved this country, and never missed an opportunity to vote, to brag about her citizenship, to root for the USA during the Olympics. She never learned English, and was looked down upon by others as though she didn't belong, a sentiment she never understood.

There have recently been a number of stories about the changing face of America, largely due to the influx of Mexican immigrants to this country. In some instances, as is the case with my home state of Arizona, or more recently in Alabama, there is state-sanctioned discrimination not seen since the 1950's.

As a result, a mass exodus of people who built rich lives in communities all around the state has ensued. Despite the many economic and civic contributions they made to these communities over a number of years, they felt they had no recourse against these new immigration laws. So they left. Many of them fearfully leaving in the middle of the night. Just like that, it was as though entire families had never existed. In the wake of their flight, many towns are now feeling economic challenges due to the absence of a workforce that performed jobs many Americans are unwilling to do. What these Hispanic immigrants really took with them though, is the grand hope they carry to make good on why they chose to live in America. Without such hope, America's future is grim.

On the flip-side are communities in the Midwest that are thriving because they recognize the vitality Hispanic families bring with them. Such towns realize the importance, and value, of embracing an immigrant population. Because of such recognition of this economic benefit, these towns are surviving, and will potentially flourish. By opening new businesses and strengthening the local economies of towns that are in danger of complete bankruptcy, the Hispanic population is largely responsible for helping to rebuild entire communities many once thought were unsalvageable.

I buried my grandmother last month. She lived long enough to see why she immigrated to America. She raised sons, daughters, and grandchildren here, all of whom are college graduates, all of whom believe that anything is possible. She lived long enough to see me launch Mamiverse Media, a news, lifestyle and entertainment site and social media community devoted to Latina moms and families like my own, and the millions of other Hispanic families who are set on making their mark. Women like my grandmother, a Latina mom who never understood the word can't, are changing the face of what motherhood looks like in this country. I cannot think of a better tribute to Eva Gallego's legacy, than to empower Latino families with knowledge and options.

Like so many millions of other Latina moms in America, my grandmother was set on raising dreamers who achieve a quintessentially American concept that may just save this country.


Rene Alegria is the founder/CEO of Mamiverse Media, a news, lifestyle and entertainment content provider geared towards Latina moms and their families. Rene is the former founding publisher and editorial director of Rayo, the Hispanic imprint at HarperCollins, the first of its kind in major New York book publishing.