WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.) released the following statement today in recognition of Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 – October 15th each year.
“During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we are called to honor the contributions of the Latino community. Now accounting for 60 million individuals in the United States, these men and women are an essential pillar of our society. Although this group has grown significantly in recent decades, individuals of Hispanic/Latin American descent and culture have been with our Nation since its very founding.
“Congress established National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 in recognition of the pivotal contributions and legacy of the Latino community that traces its roots to Mexico, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, and farther beyond. Millions, such as the Hispanos of New Mexico and the Tejanos of Texas, are the descendants of settlers who have been on these lands for centuries. Starting in the twentieth century, millions of individuals from across the Hispanic world have come to our Nation as immigrants. Latinos now make up 18 percent of the population in the U.S., the largest ethnic minority group in the country. Since 2000, the Latino population in Maryland has more than doubled, now accounting for half a million people, or nearly 10 percent of all Marylanders. Our State is home to a diverse community of individuals with origins from throughout Latin America, with sizeable populations of Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and Peruvians.
“Thus, Latinos have done so much to support and make the United States of America the exceptional nation that it is today. They have made groundbreaking discoveries and innovations in science and technology. They have shown us new ideas, art and music, and cuisine. They have created new products and jobs as entrepreneurs and business-owners, and they have led our communities as dutiful elected representatives of the people. They have fought and are fighting today to protect our way of life and to promote our interests and ideals abroad.
“Yet we must recognize that this community faces distinct challenges. As the Latino population has grown, racism, hatred, and naked xenophobia have unfortunately grown with it. Instability continues to hamper the abilities of already fragile states in our hemisphere, and dangerous conditions abroad prompt many to leave everything behind to pursue a safer existence. Given these trying circumstances, we must recognize the obligations that arise from our shared humanity to assist those in need and to welcome and celebrate our differences. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we celebrate this community’s countless contributions, but not necessarily as something new. The American story is incomplete without the vibrant and enduring history of the Latino community.”