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My Story is the Story of Los Angeles

LATINO PERSPECTIVE-Former candidate for LA City Council Carolyn Ramsay said about me after I endorsed her in the general election, “Fred Mariscal's story is the story of LA.” A few weeks ago, the Latino Victory Project interviewed me and featured me on their website. 

 

I’d like to share with you the following full interview. I think Carolyn is right -- my story is the story of thousands of Latinos across this great city. I hope this can serve as a reminder to all Angelenos that Latinos in LA are making our city great every day. 

  1. Based on your experiences, why do you think it is important for Latinos to be civically active in the community? 

FM: The government can only do so much, that’s why I believe that if Latinos want to improve their quality of life and their political clout, they must get involved in their communities, give back and do all they can to change things for the better.  

  1. How have your experiences influenced your civic participation? 

FM:  Our Declaration of Independence says that we have certain unalienable Rights -- that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. This is what has made America great. As an openly gay man, a Latino and as an immigrant, I’m driven by and influenced by the desire to fight and protect the rights and diversity of all citizens -- so that we can all live in true liberty, live life to the fullest, pursue happiness and fulfillment as we see fit and not as some politicians would want us to believe. 

  1. With Justice Scalia's seat open in SCOTUS, how do you think this will impact your vote? What do you think this means for the Latino community? 

FM:  Because Supreme Court rulings impact our country for generations to come, picking a Supreme Court Justice is the most important decision a President can make. 

I’d like our President to pick someone who will not get mired in religion-based moral quandaries like Scalia did. I’m going to vote for a candidate who will nominate someone who understands that legal arguments are secular, and that they are based on a secular document, the Constitution, which was written during the founding of a secular democracy.    

This year the Supreme Court will rule on issues affecting Latinos in a very meaningful way. Therefore, the implications for the Latino community are huge, like President Obama’s executive action on immigration, or Evenwel v. Abbott (One Person, One Vote); it will also vote on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (affirmative action), and on Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association (Public Union Dues) among many other important cases. Latinos need to be informed and to choose carefully. 

  1. What motivates you? What inspires you to tell your story/succeed? 

FM:  What motivates me is the desire to do all that I can to make sure that the United States of America stays true to its values. What inspires me to tell my story is that I firmly believe that the United States is a force for good in the world, that no other country from the outset believed in the idea of openness and the mixture of people we have. The United States is a nation founded on diversity — of race, religion, national origin, this is what makes this country great, and Latinos are part of this great story. 

  1. What is your first story? Why is it important for others to hear your first story? 

FM:  I grew up in Mexico City, and I was really fortunate to have a great supportive family and a very comfortable life. But I moved to Los Angeles in 1992 to study at the University of Southern California, and decided to become an American. I got on line but it took 21 years! --I was finally able to take the Citizenship Oath in 2013. We do need immigration reform. It shouldn’t take 21 years to become a citizen when you follow the rules.  

There are many, many immigrants who have gone through the same ordeal, and there are many others who are still waiting after many years to even get a response from the government on their Permanent Residence application. I tell you hang on, press on, be patient and it will happen; it’s worth the wait. 

  1. Fill in the blank: I hope my first story inspires other Latinos to… 

FM:  Get involved in our democratic process. 

  1. The most important lesson I've learned as a Latino in the US is… 

FM: To never get discourage, to always give my best, and to remain hopeful and optimistic about the future of our community, and our country.

 

(Fred Mariscal came to Los Angeles from Mexico City in 1992 to study at the University of Southern California and has been in LA ever since. He is a community leader who serves as Vice Chair of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition and sits on the board of the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council representing Larchmont Village. He was a candidate for Los Angeles City Council in District 4. Fred writes Latino Perspective for CityWatch and can be reached at: [email protected]) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.