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WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today to mark the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which will be observed today through October 15th. Last night, Hoyer attended the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute’s Gala, and also met today with Hispanic leaders from his congressional district to discuss issues facing their community. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute includes Members of Congress of Hispanic descent, and is led by Chairwoman Grace Napolitano (CA).
“I am honored to join Chairwoman Grace Napolitano and the other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. America’s Hispanic community is a dynamic and vibrant group that plays a vital role in American society. I am proud that the Democratic Party has such strong Latino representation at all levels of government, from Antonio Villaraigosa, the first Latino mayor elected in Los Angeles since 1872, to an increasing number of Latino members here in the U.S. House of Representatives, including my colleague, Democratic Caucus Chairman Robert Menendez.
“Hispanics comprise the largest and fastest growing minority in America and all of us should appreciate the challenges this growth brings to our nation. Unfortunately, newly released data from the Census Bureau shows that the policies pursued by the Bush Administration and Congressional Republicans have done little to address the needs of Latino families. For instance, the average household income of Latino families is $34,241, an astounding $10,000 less than the national average; over one-fifth of the Latino community lives in poverty, a percentage which is nearly double the national average; and the Latino unemployment rate is nearly a full percentage point higher than the national average.
“Democrats will continue to promote policies that ensure opportunity and protect economic and health security for Latino families, and fight Republican efforts to privatize Social Security and cut funding for education, small businesses, Medicare and Medicaid.
“It is my hope that Hispanic Heritage Month helps our nation not only recognize the contributions of Latinos to our country but also shed light on some of the challenges faced by an important part of our community.”