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Public Statements

Recognizing The Significance Of Cinco De Mayo

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

RECOGNIZING THE SIGNIFICANCE OF CINCO DE MAYO -- (House of Representatives - May 04, 2009)


Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in strong support of H. Res. 230, resolution honoring the significance and impact of Cinco de Mayo. I would like to begin by applauding the efforts and leadership of the author of the resolution, Congressman Joe Baca, as well as the rest of my colleagues in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus for bringing this bill before us today.

Mr. Speaker, since 1862 the holiday has traditionally commemorated the victory of a poorly armed Mexican militia over a larger, better equipped French army at the Battle of Puebla. Today, however, Cinco de Mayo in the United States has become a celebration of Hispanic heritage not unlike Saint Patrick's Day for Irish-Americans.

To be sure, Mr. Speaker, Irish-Americans and Hispanic-Americans have much in common. We are bound together by Catholic, working-class experiences. Our relatives came and continue to come to this country from largely rural, uneducated backgrounds. Our struggles were, are and continue to be twin struggles for equality, as well as political and cultural recognition.

From Bernardo de Gálvez to Admiral David Farragut to César Chávez, Hispanic-Americans have made significant contributions to the development of our nation. In just the last election, Latinos represented 9 percent of the electorate and provided the margin of victory in large swaths of the country, voting for President Obama by a margin larger than 2-to-1.

And because Hispanics constitute the majority of our nation's newest Americans, Madam Speaker, I cannot speak here without at least mentioning the subject of immigration. As Mr. Fareed Zakaria affirms in his acclaimed book, The Post-American World:

Foreign students and immigrants account for almost 50 percent of all science researchers in [our] country. In 2006 they received 40 percent of all PhDs. By 2010, 75 percent of all science PhDs in [our] country will be awarded to foreign students. When these graduates settle in the country, they create economic opportunity. Half of all Silicon Valley start-ups have one founder who is an immigrant or first generation American. The potential for a new burst of American productivity depends not on our education system or R&D spending, but on our immigration policies.

Immigrants are America's great strength. If we remain true to our history; if we remain the most open and flexible society the world; if we continue to absorb cultures, devour ideas and feed off the energy of poor immigrants we will thrive. This is America's genius.

Hispanics are another great chapter in the larger history of our immigrant country. They make America more American.

I urge my colleagues to support this important resolution.


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