Senate Democrats

Senate, House Democrats Kick off Hispanic Heritage Month

6th Annual Democratic Leadership Summit Focuses on Emerging Latino Populations

(WASHINGTON, DC)- Today Senate and House Democrats kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month with the 6th Annual Democratic Hispanic Leadership Summit and unveiled the report New Communities and Opportunities–Perspectives on Emerging Latino Populations. The event, held in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., is organized by Congressional Democrats and is co-hosted by Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, the Senate Steering and Outreach Committee, chaired by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY), Steering’s Hispanic Task Force co-chaired by Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the House of Representative’s Hispanic Working Group.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, who spoke at the event, said: “The Hispanic dream – the hope of a better future – is the American dream. Hispanic values are American values. The values of opportunity, fairness and community are also Democratic values. While, more than ever before, Hispanic-Americans are enjoying the benefits of the middle class, the Bush Administration is leaving them behind. While Republicans are undermining the values of hope and opportunity, we will not let them divide us.”

“We have a lot of work ahead of us,” said Senator Reid. “We still need the Voting Rights Act to be reauthorized, protect social security for our families, address the health care crisis disproportionately impacting Latino families, and make sure every student has access to a higher education. We need to make sure that Latinos are brought to the table, and not simply asked for their support or ignored on issues facing our country.”

“The focus of today’s summit is emerging Latino communities. As a native of New Mexico, which is more than 40 percent Hispanic, I am privileged to bring a unique perspective to that discussion,” said Senator Bingaman. “It is my hope that everyone participating in today’s summit will look to New Mexico as a blueprint for the integration of many diverse populations and interests into a strong, cohesive community that values the contributions of all and hinders the progress of none,” Bingaman said.

“I take pride in representing Connecticut, which has an increasingly diverse population,” said Senator Lieberman, new co-chairman of the Senate Democratic Hispanic Task Force. “Hispanics play an active and emerging role in our community and enrich us with their work ethic and

-more- family values. The leaders who join us here today are the promise of America, working to achieve the American Dream. Today we honor that promise by committing to faithfully represent the values and voices of Hispanic leaders in the United States. We will provide real resources and real reforms so our culturally rich communities have the opportunity to prosper.” “As our Hispanic communities advance socially and economically, they are facing new challenges. We must all work together to address these challenges and help create solutions that will stimulate greater advances in the future,” Senator Clinton said.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez, (NJ-13), said that “the Hispanic community now plays a leading role in the nation’s economic, social and political life, and this summit recognizes that growing influence. As the highest-ranking Hispanic in Congressional history, I am honored to be joined by so many colleagues in working to better arm our community for success in the 21st century.”

In every area of American society, Hispanics are increasing in presence and influence. Still, much work needs to be done to better equip emerging Hispanic communities with the tools necessary to overcome persisting barriers and to succeed in the 21st century. The policy discussions at the summit addressed the challenges and opportunities for Hispanics in urban and rural communities; upward mobility through higher education and the challenges to increase representation of Latinos in corporate America. The Media and Entertainment Industry panel will examine the image of Hispanics in the mainstream media and the emergence of Hispanic media. Hispanic participation and representation in the political process, and the challenges that Latinos in the military and veterans face were also discussed.

Congressional Democrats will continue exploring the challenges and opportunities that the Latino community faces and working with Latino leaders to find solutions that can improve the quality of life for all Americans.