October 11, 2018

Cardin Statement on Hispanic Heritage Month 2018

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights, And Global Women's Issues, issued the following statement in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is celebrated from September 15 to October 15.

“This month, I join the nation in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and the invaluable contributions of the Latino community to our country.”

“Hispanic Americans comprise an integral part of the United States and form our nation’s largest ethnic minority.  An estimated sixty million Latinos and Latinas currently live in the U.S., making our country home to the world’s third largest Latino population.  More than half a million of my fellow Marylanders identify as Hispanic or Latino.” 

“Some of our Hispanic residents are recent arrivals to this country, seeking safety and freedom unavailable in their countries of origin.  Others trace their roots to our country’s founding.  All play a role in helping to shape our country for the better.  Latino and Latinas form a crucial part of our nation’s armed forces, dutifully serve at all levels of government, play an active role in their local communities, and Hispanic-owned businesses contribute an estimated 473 billion dollars in revenue to our economy and employ millions. Diversity is America’s strength and our thriving Hispanic communities are evidence of this.” 

“In spite of these contributions, many in the Latina and Latino community are suffering or being put at unnecessary risk due to the administration’s policies.  Cruel immigration practices have led to families being torn apart.  Millions of DREAMers live in constant fear that they will be removed from the only country they have ever known.  The decision to remove Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for El Salvador, Honduras, and Haiti, worsens our national security and injects unnecessary fear and uncertainty into American families based on politics, rather than policy.  Maryland alone would lose well over a billion dollars from our state’s GDP without the workers who currently hold TPS.  In Puerto Rico, three-thousand American citizens died from the effects of Hurricane Maria and the island still struggles to recover.  Hispanic Americans increasingly face risks from prejudice, racism, and bigotry.  Such policies and rhetoric directly undermine the values on which our country was founded.”

“Hispanics and Latinos bear the disproportionate effects of these policies and the entire country suffers as a result.  When some of our best and brightest young students and our nation’s hardest workers fear for their future or are forced into the shadows, it can have a lasting and harmful impact on our communities, our economy, and our security.”

“Hispanic Heritage Month marks a time to address these issues with meaningful action rather than empty proclamations.  Congress must finally pass a DREAM Act to provide Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients with the protections they deserve, so they can continue their contributions to this country.  It is time for the Senate to take up and pass S. 2144, legislation I introduced with Senators Van Hollen and Feinstein to provide a pathway to legal permanent residency for TPS holders in the United States.  We are long overdue to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

“We must additionally address systemic issues in our healthcare, tax, and education systems, many of which are particularly harmful to Hispanic communities.  Like all Americans, Hispanics deserve access to quality public schools, affordable and widely available medical care, and tax reform which reduces the burden for middle and low-income workers.”

“We must further provide Puerto Rico with the resources and support they need to recover.  More than a year after Hurricane Maria, the situation remains desperate. Our fellow American citizens on the island deserve real support.”

“Hispanic Americans are facing immense challenges, but seek the same noble goals as all Americans.  Now is the time to stand with Hispanic, Latina, and Latino Americans against prejudice, divisive rhetoric, and harmful policies.  In doing so, we will better uphold the ideals of our nation and create a better country for all Americans.”

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