Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the culture and contributions of Hispanics to the United States of America.
Rafael Medina with the Center For American Progress says Hispanic Heritage month started as a week-long observance under Lyndon B. Johnson and was expanded to a month-long celebration in the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan
“Since then every president has signed a proclamation, beginning in Sept. 15th and it goes until Oct. 15th.,” he said.
Medina said 2018 has been a difficult year for Hispanics. He points to the White House and President Trump.
“I think it’s very clear that he’s very insensitive and he doesn’t actually care about the Hispanic community.”
Medina said even the annual Hispanic Heritage Month proclamation has been tarnished.
“Last year President Trump signed the proclamation right after he had rescinded the program DACA,” he said.
DACA is the program that protects young immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children. Its future is still uncertain and Hispanics have also felt the effects of the president’s zero-tolerance immigration policy.
Chris Chmielenski is the Deputy Director for Number USA – an organization that strives to reduce total immigration numbers. He said it’s possible to celebrate Hispanic Heritage and at the same time enforce immigration laws.
“While the administration has implemented a zero-tolerance policy along the southern border, it’s not targeted at Hispanics. It’s anybody who crosses the border illegally is going to be prosecuted,” he said.
Chmielenski agrees Hispanics have done much to shape American culture.
“There are thousands, millions, of Hispanics that have come to this country legally and have contributed over generations and again, have made viable contributions to the United States and I do think we should celebrate that,” he said.
On this, Medina agrees. In fact, he says it’s now more important than ever to remember all that Hispanics bring to life in America.
“For Hispanic Americans who still believe in the American dream, who still believe in inclusivity, in culture, to not grow apathetic and to register to vote,” he said.
He also wants to celebrate all Hispanics will contribute in the future.