Mariel Saez, 202-225-3130
WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) delivered remarks today at the 2014 League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) National Legislative Conference luncheon on the importance of passing comprehensive immigration reform and House Democrats' Make It In America jobs plan. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Good afternoon, and congratulations on reaching your eighty-fifth anniversary. I want to extend those congratulations as well to Senator Wendy Davis, who continues to make waves standing up – literally! – for justice, equality, and the rights of every individual in Texas and across our country. And I want to applaud my colleague in the House, Rep. George Miller, for his lifetime of service, especially as an advocate for a public education system that can prepare every student – regardless of background – for an equal chance to make it in America.
“Throughout the past eighty-five years, LULAC has been raising a powerful voice on behalf of millions of Latinos in our country – many of whom were facing discrimination, poverty, and a denial of civil rights. Because of your work, our country is stronger today and more reflective of the vision of our founders that all are created equal and deserving of the chance to pursue the opportunities that make our nation great.
“It is those same opportunities that continue to draw immigrants to our country – immigrants who simply want to work hard and provide their children with a better life. We need their talents, their innovation, and their entrepreneurship to help us build a strong and competitive economy for the future.
“In a February 13 op-ed, Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue expressed what many business leaders believe when he wrote: ‘through common-sense immigration reform, we have a tremendous opportunity to help close the skills gap in our workforce, address labor shortages, strengthen our economy and create jobs for everyone living in America … but if we don't act on this national priority soon, we'll fall behind in the global competition for talent, putting our economy and American jobs at risk.’ That’s why we must achieve comprehensive immigration reform – and do it now.
“Any responsible and successful reform must include a pathway to citizenship. Citizenship is the foundation of our democracy, and we must look to these future citizens of our country not as a burden but as a gift.
“That’s an important reason why House Democrats continue to promote comprehensive immigration reform alongside our jobs plan, which we call ‘Make It In America.’ ‘Make It In America’ has two meanings – we want to be a nation that makes things, builds them here. And we also want to be a nation where, if you work hard, you can ‘make it.’ Our plan includes four core components that will promote job growth, and have broad support from business, labor, and the public. They are: pursue a national manufacturing strategy; promote U.S. exports; encourage businesses to bring jobs and innovation back to our shores; and train and secure a twenty-first century workforce.
“We cannot secure a competitive workforce for the twenty-first century global economy unless we can attract the best and brightest from around the world to study here, innovate here, and become part of our economy. And we must continue to prioritize education and job training that can provide pathways to jobs in advanced manufacturing and technology fields that pay well and won’t be outsourced.
“At the same time, we need to do more to promote the launch of small businesses, which continue to be the driver of job growth in our communities. Hispanic-owned small businesses are helping to lead our recovery, with more than one in five small businesses in Florida, New Mexico, and Texas now being Hispanic-owned. Make It In America legislation can help these businesses expand, hire more workers, and provide their workers with new opportunities. And it can make it easier for entrepreneurs to launch new ventures.
“Democrats continue to believe that everyone who works hard and takes responsibility deserves an equal chance to make it in America – that is, to find a job that pays well, to save for retirement, to own a home, to send their children to good, safe schools, and to afford quality health care. That’s also why we are continuing to push for an increase in the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. There is no reason why someone who works full time in our country should have to live in poverty. Most Americans support raising the minimum wage, and economists agree that it will enable millions of Americans to see higher incomes and access opportunities to secure a place in our middle class.
“The mission of LULAC has always been to enable more Latinos to make it in America, and Democrats want to continue to be your partners in this effort. I thank you again for all that you do, and I look forward to continuing our important work together in the months and years ahead.”