We used small-group exchanges and a scenario-building methodology throughout our roundtable, asking participants to enter into meaningful dialogue about how law and policy can either entrench or interrupt inequality. These scenarios will form the foundation of our efforts to think imaginatively and proactively about a realistic trajectory for the future of Latinos in the Midwest as well as the law and policy that will shape that future. One of the scenarios will explore how law and policy could contribute to a “vicious cycle” of blocked or even downward mobility for Latinos. The four themes that will shape this scenario-building are: 1) immigrant marginalization and exclusion; 2) political disenfranchisement; 3) inadequate access to education and under-skilling; and 4) economic discrimination, underemployment, and unemployment. Participants will explore the law and policy levers that are most likely to produce these adverse consequences for the future. These are the mistakes that we cannot afford to make.
The second scenario is the mirror image of the first: It will explore how law and policy can create a “virtuous circle” in which Latinos enjoy equal opportunity, upward mobility, and democratic voice. This time, the themes will be: 1) immigration incorporation and integration; 2) political participation and representation; 3) educational opportunity and attainment; and 4) entrepreneurship and economic opportunity. Again, it will be up to the participants to identify the law and policy levers that will be most impactful in altering the life chances of Latinos for the better. These are the opportunities that we cannot afford to miss.
In advance of the roundtable, we asked that our participants write one paragraph on each scenario. Drawing from their expertise and perspective, we asked them to detail: a) how law and policy may contribute to a “vicious cycle” that leaves Latinos trailing behind the rest of the nation; and b) how law and policy can contribute to the flourishing and equality of Latinos through a “virtuous circle.”