Senate Democrats

Reid: President Bush Needs to Think About Hispanics Every Day of the Year

Washington, DC - Today as President Bush meets with members of the Hispanic community at the White House for the annual Hispanic Heritage Month ceremony, he should break his pattern of not being honest with the American people on the failures of his administration. The Hispanic community is making enormous contributions to our nation and the President is right in recognizing their volunteer efforts. But these leaders, and America, deserve to know that while this administration and Republicans in Congress celebrate Hispanics one day a year, their decisions are shortchanging the Latino community 12 months a year.

Data released recently by the Census Bureau showed that almost 22% of Latinos are living in poverty, and 28% of Latino children are living in poverty, as compared to 18% of all children. Hispanics also have income levels $15,000 lower than median household incomes for white non-Hispanics. This report also found that about 14 million Hispanics are living without health coverage in America. The numbers speak for themselves. We can do better for the Latino community.

“We can do better by working to expand opportunities for more Hispanic children to have access to quality education and supporting increased funding and access to Head Start, because education opens the doors of opportunity,” said Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. “We can do better by fixing the health care system. That’s why Democrats have introduced the Health Care Equality and Accountability Act of 2005, which expands health care coverage, removes language and cultural barriers, improves workforce diversity and supports programs that reduce health disparities and ensures accountability toward communities of color.

Senate Democrats will continue to engage Latino leaders from across the nation every day of the year to bring forward positive proposals to advance the priorities of the Latino community.

“We can do better for small business owners. Hispanics represent the second-fastest growing segment of small business owners in America. Democrats recognize the enormous benefits that they provide to our economy, and we are fighting to protect low interest loans for small businesses, and expand their ability to access the capital and resources they need to succeed,” said Senator Reid. “We can do better by supporting comprehensive immigration reform that will create realistic, enforceable laws and will protect our national security, while creating legal ways for workers to come to our country.”

A fact sheet is attached.

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BUSH, REPUBLICANS AND LATINOS: THE YEAR AT A GLANCE

JANUARY. Social Security, a program that is crucial for Hispanic families, faces a significant attack by Republicans who sought to privatize the program, requiring deep benefit cuts and massive increase in our nation’s debt.

FEBURARY. The President sends to Congress a budget that included drastic cuts to Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, the Community Development Block Grant, the Small Business Administration’s Microloan Program and Upward Bound – proven, successful programs that help revitalize communities and expand the Hispanic middle class – all in order to protect tax cuts for the wealthiest.

MARCH. Republicans block a long overdue increase to the minimum wage that would have helped parents who work full time, yet still live in poverty all across America.

APRIL. The Republican Congress eliminates an amendment to the FY2006 Budget Resolution that would have restored funding for Small Business Administration programs important to the emerging class of Hispanic entrepreneurs, such as the micro-loan program and the Small Business Development Centers.

MAY. President Bush supports the passage of the Real ID Act, legislation that not only makes it harder for states and the federal government to keep track of who is in our country and compromises the privacy of American citizens, but will also create long lines at local DMVs. This is essentially anti-immigrant legislation couched in the language of anti-terrorism.

JUNE. Republicans prevent veterans from getting the quality mental health care they deserve by refusing to consider the Veterans Mental Health Care Capacity Enhancement Act of 2005. Census data indicates that there are more than 1.1 million Hispanic veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces and about 53,000 Hispanics were on active duty in the military in 2003.

JULY. The Republican Congress passes and President Bush signs CAFTA, a trade agreement opposed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, major Latino organizations and labor unions. CAFTA had also raised serious concerns among religious leaders because Latinos will bear a disproportionate burden of the consequences of this trade agreement, since they are concentrated in industries that lose out with trade agreements.

AUGUST. At a time when more Latinos are living in poverty, the President signed the Energy bill, which does not do nearly enough to put America soundly on the path towards energy independence, or relieves customers from skyrocketing costs of energy.

SEPTEMBER. Immigrant communities in the Gulf Coast remain afraid to seek much needed emergency relief, and news reports have indicated that immigrants are being placed in deportation proceedings after seeking assistance. The Department of Homeland Security refuses to answer requests from House and Senate Democrats, and Latino and religious leaders to issue a formal statement reassuring immigrants victimized by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that they may seek help from relief agencies without fear that the federal government will seek to deport them.

OCTOBER. For the second time in four months, President Bush failed to appoint a Latino nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.

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