President Barack Obama spoke to a crowd of several hundred at the American Latino Heritage Forum at the Department of Interior Wednesday about the contributions of Hispanics to the United States.
The event paid tribute to the nation’s Hispanic leaders, scholars and soldiers, with the president highlighting the impact made by the Latino community.
“We are richer because of the men and women and children who’ve come to our shores and joined our union. And we are better off because of the ideas that they’ve brought, and the difference that they’ve made, and the impact they’ve had on our lives,” Obama announced.
He praised the 54 million Americans of Latino descent who have contributed to building the cities, growing the U.S. economy and defending the country.
“Today, for the first time in history, there is a Latina in my Cabinet and a Latina on the bench of the highest court in the land.”
Although there was so much to praise, Obama acknowledged that the life for Latinos hasn’t been easy and frequently their achievements go unrecognized.
“The land of opportunity hasn't always been the land of acceptance. But the fact that Latinos have done so much and come so far is a testament to the vision that has sustained you.”
The unemployment rate among Latinos is one of the highest in the country, he sustained, and families are struggling. For the problems that they face today it might take time, he believes, but pointed that America should be a place where people can always make it if they try.
“There are things we can do right now to make a difference,” said Obama as he mentioned that he is putting forward the American Jobs Act.
According to him, the American Jobs Act would lead to more growth and nearly 2 million jobs next year. “No other jobs plan has that kind of support from actual economists -- no plan from Congress, no plan from anybody.”
Important Hispanic figures at the event included, Sergeant First Class Petry, who was honored with the Medal of Honor three months ago; the Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, a Mexican-American who organized the forum; the senior advisor for Catholic Relief Services, Father David Garcia; and Rudi Rodriguez, a Tejano historian who wants to establish the Hispanic Heritage Center of Texas at HemisFair Park.