Not all Hispanics in America are illegal, poor, or both. Unfortunately, that’s the impression spread by the Democratic Party. When Democrats talk about Hispanic culture during Hispanic Heritage Month they focus on illegal immigration and the hurricane death toll in Puerto Rico. Both issues are favorites for attacking the president. Neither has anything to do with celebrating Hispanic culture in our country.
58.9 million undocumented? Not exactly.
One politician after another lined up to condemn Trump and criticize U.S. policy in the name of our one-month observance of Hispanic heritage, as if these two issues represent the defining characteristics of Hispanic Americans.
That’s the wrong message to send. Democrats get away with it by bullying Americans into being fearful of challenging the party on issues of race and ethnicity even when what we hear makes no sense.
The latest Census figures report 58.9 million people of Hispanic origin in the U.S. Estimates of citizens vs. non-citizens are difficult to find and will be even more difficult in future years thanks to political efforts to obstruct the Census.
Suffice it to say that nearly 20% of the U.S. population is Hispanic. The majority of these people are U.S. citizens or legal residents.
What stands out about the culture of these tens of millions of people? It depends on who you listen to.
Hispanic culture celebrated thanks to Latin America
If you think Hispanic Heritage Month exists to celebrate Hispanics in America you are only half right. It was proposed in 19681 and according to the Census Bureau:
Sept. 15 is the starting point for the celebration because it is the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.2
September 15 is also the starting point for Democrats celebrating Hispanic heritage for reasons that have little to do with citizens who live, work, and contribute to this country and a lot to do with making us angry at Republicans and the president.
Top Democrats talk Hispanic heritage and culture
Hand-wringing, condemnation, and blame are odd ways to hold a celebration.
Even though he was effectively kicked out of his seat by a Hispanic woman, the House Democrat Party chairman reminded us what is important about Hispanic Heritage Month 2018:
One year after Hurricane Maria, the Trump administration continues to neglect our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico as they struggle to rebuild the island. And President Trump is demonizing and promoting an anti-immigrant agenda, refusing to bring relief and certainty to DREAMers, and tearing immigrant families apart.3
Crowley’s message: Hispanic Heritage Month is about illegal immigrants and Puerto Rico.
When Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) took his turn, he reminded us to:
keep in our hearts the children who remain held in detention, alone and afraid.4
Finished wiping the tears away? Hoyer continued:
The same goes for our nation’s DREAMers, living in a state of great uncertainty, as well as for our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, who are still struggling to rebuild even a year after devastating hurricanes.5
Is there more to Hispanic culture than being an illegal immigrant or living in hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico?
Illegal and underprivileged, too
Nevada Congresswoman Jacky Rosen adopted a more broad-based approach and pulled underprivileged Hispanics into the quasi-legal mix:
As we spend the coming weeks celebrating Hispanic traditions and reflecting on the many Hispanic contributions to Nevada’s economy and culture, we must all stand strong as allies with the Hispanic community against an agenda that threatens to tear families apart, undermines labor rights, and jeopardizes access to affordable health care and strong public schools. 6
Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) blurred the distinction between legal and illegal. He inferred that the White House is going after American citizens because of their heritage:
In a moment when the Trump Administration is targeting our community, we must come together and proudly celebrate our culture,” said Senator Menendez.7
Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto talked about lip service and then resorted to the same thing when she also focused on Puerto Rico:
Let us not simply pay lip service to our Hispanic communities but seize this moment to recommit ourselves to the fair and equal treatment of the three million U.S. citizens who call Puerto Rico home and the longstanding American tradition of providing refuge for those in need.8
Ever since George Bush uttered the words “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job” it has been open season on federal management of natural disasters. The big difference in Puerto Rico is that the island was already struggling to be prepared for anything.
$5.5 billion in aid came from U.S. taxpayers9 by January 29, 2018. It barely scratched the surface of what the island needs. The money is not acknowledged by Democrats and neither is the island’s “fragile and outdated infrastructure”10 that was detailed in a government report that observes:
Puerto Rico officials had not considered that a hurricane would cause a loss of power for as long as Hurricane Maria did.11
Hispanic culture and death in Puerto Rico
Using Puerto Rico’s uncertain death toll for a midterm election issue is a creative way to celebrate Hispanic culture. There is massive political mileage to be gained from accusing the administration of an “inadequate federal response,”12 but it is unfair and slurs the memory of terror victims to compare our efforts to the September 11 attacks by calling for a “9-11 style commission to examine the federal response.”13
There is another side to the disaster in Puerto Rico:
And the problem with Puerto Rico is their electric grid and their electric generating plant was dead before the storms ever hit. It was in very bad shape. It was in bankruptcy. It had no money. It was largely — you know, it was largely closed.14
White House actually honors Hispanic Americans
The government’s National Hispanic Heritage Month website took a decidedly less partisan approach that acknowledged “Hispanic Americans who have positively influenced and enriched our nation and society.”15
That’s not how the Congressional Hispanic Causes wants to commemorate Hispanic culture and the contributions Hispanics have made to our nation:
But instead of celebrating inclusion, our country has seen a rise in hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric perpetrated by this administration’s systematic attacks on, and targeting of, our community. These efforts have marginalized immigrants and undermined the contributions of Hispanic families, and are inconsistent with the values on which Hispanic Heritage Month was founded.16
This is what Democrats want us to know about Hispanic culture during Hispanic Heritage Month. After all, this is an election year.
Sources and image credit
1. “Hispanic Heritage Month 2018.” United States Census Bureau. September 13, 2018. https://www.census.gov/newsroom/facts-for-features/2018/hispanic-heritage-month.html, retrieved September 19, 2018.
3. “Chairman Crowley Statement on Hispanic Heritage Month.” House Democrats. September 14, 2018. https://www.dems.gov/newsroom/press-releases/chairman-crowley-statement-on_hispanic-heritage-month, retrieved September 17, 2018.
4. “Hoyer Statement on Hispanic Heritage Month.” Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer. September 14, 2018. https://www.democraticwhip.gov/content/hoyer-statement-hispanic-heritage-month-8, retrieved September 17, 2018.
6. “Rosen Statement Commemorating Hispanic Heritage Month.” Jacky Rosen. September 14, 2018. https://rosen.house.gov/media/press-releases/rosen-statement-commemorating-hispanic-heritage-month, retrieved September 17, 2018.
7. “Menendez on Hispanic Heritage Month.” Bob Menendez. September 15, 2018. https://www.menendez.senate.gov/news-and-events/press/menendez-on-hispanic-heritage-month, retrieved September 18, 2018.
8. “Cortez Masto Commemorates Hispanic Heritage Month.” Catherine Cortez Mato. September 15, 2018. https://www.cortezmasto.senate.gov/news/press-releases/cortez-masto-commemorates-hispanic-heritage-month, retrieved September 18, 2018.
9. “2017 Hurricanes and Wildfires.” United States Government Accountability Office. September 2018, p. 24.
10. Ibid., p. 32.
11. Ibid., p. 31.
12. “Velazquez on Latest Puerto Rico Hurricane Death Toll Estimate.” Nydia M. Velazquez. August 9, 2018. https://velazquez.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/vel-zquez-latest-puerto-rico-hurricane-death-toll-estimate, retrieved September 18, 2018.
14. “Remarks by President Trump and FEMA Administrator Brock Long on Hurricane Florence Response Measures.” Whitehouse.gov September 11, 2018. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-fema-administrator-brock-long-hurricane-florence-response-measures/, retrieved September 18, 2018. p. 24. https://www.gao.gov/assets/700/694231.pdf, retrieved September 20, 2018.
15. “National Hispanic Heritage Month.” https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/, retrieved September 18, 2018.
16. “Congressional Hispanic Caucus Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month.” Congressional Hispanic Caucus. September 18, 2018. https://congressionalhispaniccaucus-lujangrisham.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/congressional-hispanic-caucus-celebrates-hispanic-heritage-month, retrieved September 18, 2018.
Image: “HSI El Paso, Border Patrol agents arrest 18 alien smugglers, 117 illegal aliens; seize cash, vehicles, drugs.” ICE. July 31, 2018. https://www.ice.gov/image/hsi-el-paso-border-patrol-agents-arrest-18-alien-smugglers-117-illegal-aliens-seize-cash-0, retrieved September 21, 2018.
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