WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) joins Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D-TX), Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and millions of Americans across the country in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15th through October 15th. Rep. Hoyer, who will attend the Hispanic Caucus Gala tonight, released the following statement:
“Our strength as a nation lies in the diversity and heritage of its citizens, and the 39.9 million members of the Hispanic community, make up one of the largest and most vibrant groups in the country. I am proud to join my Congressional colleagues as we observe Hispanic Heritage Month in the upcoming weeks and celebrate the innumerable contributions Latinos have made in shaping America’s history.
“Latinos play a significant role in communities across the U.S. They hold positions of influence in education and economic development, civic action and corporate leadership. Latinos have fought discrimination and overcome barriers to become teachers, CEOs, professional athletes, and members of Congress. Most importantly, Hispanic culture has enriched American life and society with its language, art, and a strong focus on family and tradition.
“With the 2004 campaign only weeks away, it’s important to note that Hispanic voters have the power to decide the outcome of many local, state, and federal elections across the country. In the ‘melting pot’ of America, Latinos are the largest and fastest growing minority group.
“But it’s clear that under the Bush Administration and Republican Congress, the Hispanic community has not benefited. The real median income of Hispanic households dropped in 2003, down 2.6 percent from 2002. The poverty rate for Hispanics is 22.5%, almost twice as high as the national poverty rate, and nearly a third of all Hispanics have no health insurance. This election will give Hispanic voters, like millions of Americans, a chance to vote for Democratic candidates who have a pro-active agenda to promote economic prosperity, education, health care reform, and protect our national security.
“So, as we mark this important observance, I encourage all Americans to take some time this month to pay tribute to the many facets of Hispanic American society and celebrate the achievements of Hispanics nationwide.”