I've been in this country for 18 years and for all this time I've been hearing about the importance of the Latino vote, but nothing demonstrated that unquestionable power like last night's re-election of President Barack Obama. We've now become more than just a big pile of money for marketers, transcending our economic spending power and finally flexing our political might--and I sincerely hope we are here to stay. The Obama family gets four more years in the White House, and it's all thanks in large part to Latino voters.

Another huge segment to whom President Obama owes this election? Us women! The president received 19% more female votes than his Republican rival Mitt Romney. 

Numbers released by the Pew Hispanic Center put our the number of eligible Latino voters at about 23.7 million Latinos. Of those who actually made it to the polls, 69 percent voted for the President--that's even higher than 2008's 62 percent! So, what do us Latinas REALLY care about?

If I could give the President a list of priorities for his second term, I'd start with education. There are too many of our kids in deficient schools. Too many youngsters' dreams of going to college are shattered because they can't afford a college education, or do not having the documents necessary to even apply! 

Read more ¿Qué más?: President Barack Obama & Michelle's victory hug conquers the Internet!

Next up, immigration reform. During his first term, the President took on the battle for reforming health care and he won--with various concessions, yes--but he won. Now he needs to work on our immigration laws. I really hope he doesn't let us down this term. President Obama has the power of all us Latinos behind him if he decides to focus on measures that will allow for the legalization of those undocumented immigrants among us who are just trying to follow their dreams and make a decent living in this country. 

"I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together. Reducing our deficit. Reforming our tax code. Fixing our immigration system," the President said during last night's victory speech in Chicago. It's not going to be easy. Republicans are still in control of the House of Representatives and even though Democrats are the majority in the Senate, they don't have an absolute majority. Perhaps Republicans, in a spirit of political survival, will decide to support changes to immigration laws, but I honestly don't see that happening.

Read more ¿Qué más?: Brave pregnant woman in labor stops to vote on way to the hospital!

It's also important to note that last night's election wasn't only a victory for President Barack Obama--for the first time in the history of the U.S., the Senate will have 18 women and three Latinos. It seems like very little, but, believe me, it's a HUGE step forward. Among the women, we have the first openly gay person, the first woman wounded in combat, and the first Hindu person. Whether or not you agree with the politics of these compañeras, don't doubt the importance of a government as diverse as the country it serves--it's the only way to ensure that democracy will truly function.

And women, let's be overjoyed by the other great news: The three ignorant Republicans who said all those ridiculous statements about rape (legitimate? gift from God?) were also defeated by WIDE margins (almost as wide as my smile when I heard!).

There's no doubt in my mind that, thanks to us, the political landscape in the United States today is more colorful and more inclusive than ever. Let's take advantage of this moment to make our voices be heard loud and clear--and to defend our children's futures!

Image via Getty Images

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About the author

Alicia Civita lives in Florida, with her Argentinian husband, her two boys, 7 and 10 years old, her two rescued pit bulls, a parrot, and a red bearded lizard. She has lived and written from Caracas, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, and New York, among other cities. Since becoming a mom she has learned to sew, craft, and play videogames. She dreams with hosting a party with all of her Facebook friends.

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