Our Valley Santa Clarita 2017 October - Page 13

National Hispanic Heritage Month A time to celebrate the culture and contributions of our Latino community By Senator Scott Wilk National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed in our country from September 15 to October 15 every year. It is a time for us to celebrate the cultures and contributions of people whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, Central and South America as well as other Hispanic countries. The rich and varied history and experiences of Latinos have helped shape North America as we know it today. From business owners to poets and politicians, Latinos have transformed our nation, making their mark on every aspect of public life, particularly here in California, where Latinos are the largest demographic group in the state. In 2005 Los Angeles elected Antonio Villaraigosa as the first Mexican-American mayor in over a century. Both leaders of the state Legislature, as well as two of our constitutional officers are Mexican-Americans: Senate pro-Tempore Kevin de León, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, Attorney General Xavier Becerra and Secretary of State Alex Padilla. Latino influence is not limited to California. Juan Felipe Herrera, once California’s Poet Laureate, was named the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2015. In 2010 Marco Rubio, a 2nd generation Cuban-American, was elected to the U.S. Senate and eventually became a contender for president of the United States. In 2009 Sonia Sotomayor was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Sotomayor is the first Latina to serve on the highest court in the land. There is no denying the significant contributions Latinos of all backgrounds have made to our nation. Latino-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of California’s business community. They comprise 23 percent of all businesses in the state and a whopping 37 percent of those in Southern California. California would not be the economic powerhouse it is without the contributions of the Latino community. Unfortunately, decades of congressional inaction on immigration policy has polarized our nation, and now many young immigrants, through no fault of their own, are left hanging on the edge, wondering what turn their lives will take. At its most elemental level, immigration is about the fate of human beings and families. This is not a time for political posturing, but a time for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to come together, do their job, and craft a bipartisan immigration policy that acknowledges the amazing contributions immigrants make to our nation and lays out a clear path for them to follow. PAGE 13