Democratic Front-Runner answer questions to Hispanic Trending on Latino Culture, Values and Professional Hispanic Immigrants
October 1, 2007
By Juan G. Tornoe
Hispanic Trending: What similarities do you see between "Traditional" American Values and Hispanic Values?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: You know, I’m glad that your first question is about similarities instead of differences, because for centuries, Hispanics have been part of the fabric of our nation. So when we talk about Hispanic values, we are in fact talking about American values. The values that Hispanics hold near and dear – such as hard work, family, faith and patriotism have helped strengthen America for centuries.
Because of the contributions of millions of Latinos, America is stronger, more vibrant and more prosperous. And I am very proud to have worked over the years with so many Latinos who believe as I do in the promise of America.
HT: What cultural differences have you noticed between Hispanics and Non-Hispanics?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: Latinos have so many unique cultural traditions that enrich our society. And I think that many Hispanics are also much more aware than non-Hispanics of the value of speaking more than one language. I think these are both positive differences – aspects of the diversity that makes our nation great. Sadly, in recent years we have seen some who highlight cultural differences not to celebrate them – but to create divisions. I think that is a very serious problem, and not reflective of who we really are.
HT: What values/characteristics do you admire the most from the Latino culture? Why?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: Well I want to go back a little bit in history. As you know, Patti Solis Doyle, who is now my campaign manager, was the very first person I hired when my husband Bill decided to run for president, back in October of 1991. She was a young woman, the daughter of Mexican immigrants who had come to Chicago. Her father held down many jobs to support their family. In fact, he never made more than $18,000 a year in his entire life. Her mother worked in a very difficult job in a commercial laundry, which is one of the hardest jobs anybody can have. But they raised their children with a strong belief in the possibility of a better future, and a commitment to education. So Patti went on to college and is living out the American Dream – as is her brother, an alderman in Chicago. Her whole family has become very near and dear to me. I deeply admire their hard work and devotion to each other. These values are shared by so many Latino families, and they truly define America at its best.
HT: Why do you consider wining the Latino Vote important for your campaign? Can you mention three things that you are consciously doing to achieve this goal?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: Winning the Latino vote is very important to me. I’m proud of the increasing involvement in the political process by Latino voters. I represent New York which has such a tremendous constituency of Latino voters from all over the world. I’m very proud to have the first Latina serving as my Campaign Manager. But I didn’t ask her to be my Campaign Manager because she was my friend or because she was Latina — but because she was the best person for the job.
To win the Hispanic vote we are making sure that the community gets to know my record when it comes to fighting for the issues that are important to Latinos, such as education and healthcare.
We have also been creating Hispanic Leadership Councils in different states. These groups are comprised of business leaders, community and civic advocates and local elected officials who are helping us reach out to the community, both at the local and national levels.
For example, just in the last four weeks, my friends Senator Bob Menendez, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Dolores Huerta and Congresswoman Grace Napolitano have been traveling across the country attending different events and meeting with groups of Latinos, and helping organize volunteers. They have been in places like Manchester, New Hampshire; Las Vegas, Nevada; San Diego, California; and Des Moines, Iowa.
We are also using the power of technology to reach out to Latino voters. I’m very proud that my campaign was the first to create a page in a bilingual social networking site. As part of this effort to reach to a wider audience of Latinos, my campaign also released a video for Hispanic Heritage Month, in which I urge Latinos to celebrate this month by registering to vote and becoming involved in the political process.
But overall, I think my record of 35 years of advocacy, my vision of what our country can and should be, and the fact that I have the strength and experience to make the change we need are issues that resonate among Latinos.
HT: What can Hispanics expect to see changing for the better, for them and their community, once President Hillary Clinton is sworn in?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: We will have a lot of work to do once this Administration leaves office. During the past six and a half years, we have failed to invest in our future, in our schools, in our families. We have gotten mired in another country’s civil war, a war without a military solution. And today, too many Latino families are falling behind.
I believe we should start by creating an education system worthy of our children. As President, I will provide access to pre-kindergarten for every four year-old in America, so they have the opportunities they need to fulfill their God-given potential. I will recruite and retain outstanding teachers and address the drop-out crisis that is affecting so many Latino students. I will continue to strongly support the DREAM ACT, and will work to expand access to higher education.
We also have to address our health care crisis. Today, 47 million Americans have no health insurance, and Latinos are more likely to be uninsured than any other racial or ethnic group in the country.
The American Health Choices Plan that I have proposed will provide quality, affordable healthcare for every American. It will allow the 17.9 million Latinos with employer-sponsored coverage to pay lower premiums for higher quality coverage. It will strengthen Medicaid for the 9.6 million Latinos who receive care through this program. And it will help eliminate racial and ethnic disparities in health care, and increase diversity and cultural and linguistic competency in the health care system.
The failure of immigration reform has also been frustrating; our immigration system is broken, and every day, hundreds of families – many of whom have been separated from each other for years – are paying the price. That is why, when I’m President, I will work to pass immigration reform that honors our history as both a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws, and that includes a path to legalization.
Finally, it is long past time that we ended the war in Iraq and brought our troops home. We know the price of this war: Our sons and daughters, friends and neighbors who are fighting in Iraq and losing their lives. I’m working as hard as I can to end this war in the Senate. And if President Bush does not end it before he leaves office, when I’m President, I will.
HT: Many of Hispanic Trending readers either are or employ Latino professionals with work visas…What do you think about this men and women, contributing to this country, who entered legally, are paying their taxes, many have US-born kids, and most want to fully incorporate into the American Society? Are you for streamlining their path to residency and citizenship?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: I think that the broken immigration system is causing enormous hardships for those who come here legally. Processing immigration paperwork can sometimes take years due to the existing backlogs in the system. I believe we must craft a solution to this problem, so that those who come here legally can become citizens, if they so choose, in a more efficient way.
I am particularly concerned about those families who are separated by our broken immigration system. The visa backlog for spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents is significant and substantial. We need a more fair process, especially for families that have been torn apart.
According to the June 2007 State Department Visa Bulletin, the backlog is currently more than five years long. For some, that backlog can stretch much, much longer. That means parents are forced to live apart from their children, husbands are separated from wives, and tax-paying, law-abiding legal immigrants who are doing the right thing are treated like their families don’t matter – in some instances for a decade.
If you are a lawful permanent resident and your spouse and children are caught in this long line, your family is not allowed to enter the United States even for a brief visit. You are also limited in your ability to visit your spouse and children overseas. Our current law dictates that families should be split in two – that’s wrong and that’s un-American.
Legal residents who have followed all the rules should not be forced to choose between their newly-adopted country and living with their children. Five to ten years in the life of a child or a marriage is precious time that can’t be recaptured.
That is why a few months ago, during the immigration debate in the Senate, I offered a bipartisan amendment, along with my colleges, Sen. Chuck Hagel (D-NE) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), to exempt spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents from the visa caps. This amendment would have helped unite these nuclear families that have been separated for far too long. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated. But I will continue fighting to bring a smart, fair, thoughtful solution to our immigration crisis.
HT: How have you seen this Hispanic Professionals (in the country with work visas) contribute to maintaining America's edge in the world?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: America remains the preeminent destination for discovery, but our global leadership and vision did not happen by accident. It took smart, forward thinking policies that drew on what was right about America to make America stronger. I think our American tradition of welcoming immigrants has contributed immensely to helping our country maintain its edge. Many foreign-born Hispanic professionals come here to get advanced degrees in science or business, or to work in the advertising and marketing fields like you, and eventually become citizens and make enormous contributions to our nation. They bring with them a different perspective of the world. They see business opportunities where others might not see them, and they are driven and determined to seize them. My state of New York is the perfect example of this. We have people from all around the world, working in all kinds of fields, contributing creative ideas and keeping our economy moving.
HT: Do you want to share anything specific with Hispanic Trending readers?
Sen. Hillary Clinton: I have heard that Hispanic Trending is a very popular site, and I want to thank you for the opportunity to share my message of change with your readers. I have spent the last 35 years of my life fighting for change. And if you give me the chance to serve as President, I’ll bring that experience to begin changing Washington on day one.
As the campaign progresses, I want to work with you and learn from you. So I hope you’ll visit our website at www.hillaryclinton.com and learn about new ways to get involved with our campaign.