D.C. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke this
morning to the
Second annual Hispanic Prayer Breakfast.
"Buenos días! Gracias. "Reverend Martinez, for
your kind introduction; Reverend Luis Cortés, for the invitation
to be here and for your tremendous leadership on behalf of Hispanic
Americans; Members of Congress; and, all the pastors from across
the country, including those who traveled so far from California
and the Bay Area.
"Thank you for such a warm welcome, but even more for your
compassion and your saving help to so many Hispanic Americans who
look to you for what they need most nueva esperanza. Muchas
"I bring the greetings of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
There are more Hispanics serving in the House of Representatives
today than at any time in American history. This includes Congressman
Silvestre Reyes and and Congressman Bob Menendez, Chairman of the
Democratic Caucus - the first Latino in history elected to the Leadership
in Congress. I want you to know that being here means a great deal
to me personally. I have been blessed in my life with the example
of men and women whose lives of service were rooted in their deep
and abiding faith.
"Among them was Father Miguel Vega, former pastor of St. John
the Evangelist Church in Los Angeles. A decade ago, after Proposition
187 threatened Californias Hispanic community, Father Vega
organized churches and community groups cross the country
perhaps some of your congregations to help Hispanic immigrants
become American citizens.
"And when Father Vega ran up against the federal bureaucracy,
those of us in the California delegation worked with him to go over
the federal bureaucracy right to the Vice President of the
United States. And as a result, tens of thousands of Hispanic immigrants
became Hispanic Americans and today are full and active citizens
of this nation of immigrants.
"That is the difference a single individual can make. That
is the difference each of you are making every day. Father Vega
said, 'Its time for our people to have a voice.' For so many
Hispanic Americans, those of you in this room are their voice.
"As we say in California where one in three of our neighbors
is Hispanic the beauty of America is in the mix. Diversity
is our pride. And diversity is our strength. Indeed, Hispanics now
comprise the largest minority group in the nation.
"But your influence flows not just from your numbers. It flows
from your tremendous contribution to every part of American society
economically, politically, and culturally.
"Your commitment to community and family, your values and faith,
are woven through the fabric of our nation. You reinvigorate the
American Dream and strengthen the ties that bind us as a people.
"In recent weeks, Americans have been reminded that the qualities
that define our national character faith, family and love
of country are the values we share, regardless of history
"In the war in Iraq, Hispanic Americans served their country
with distinction. I visited with some of them at Bethesda Naval
Hospital where they were recovering from their wounds. They are
an inspiration. Anything the rest of us do or say for freedom seems
so small compared to their willingness to give the last full measure
of their devotion.
"Other Hispanic Americans made the ultimate sacrifice. Their
names form a roll of honor; names like Garibay, Gonzalez, Martinez-Flores,
Menusa, Padilla-Ramirez, Suarez and Tejeda.
"And in their last letters home, we have been moved by their
faith in each other, in their country, and in God. Army Private
First Class Diego Fernando Rincon an immigrant from Colombia
and one of ten non-citizens to sacrifice their lives for a country
that was not yet their own wrote to his mother: I 'try to
keep the faith and pray for better days.' 'I believe God has a path
"Marine Lance Corporal Jose Gutierrez, an immigrant from Guatemala,
told his American foster mother: 'I dont know what it is.
But I know God has me in this world because there is something special
that Im going to do.'
"In their deaths, Private First Class Rincon and Lance Corporal
Gutierrez were granted the citizenship they deserved. I pledge to
you today: Democrats in Congress will work to make it easier and
faster for immigrants serving in our Armed Forces to become citizens
of the country that they defend every day.
"Today, we pray for our forces and their families. And we resolve
to let their service remind us of our mission as a nation
to build a future worthy of their sacrifice.
"That future starts with you because you hear the prayer of
the poor. You know the struggles that too many Americans face every
day in finding and keeping a job in affording a home and health
care in keeping kids in school in keeping neighborhoods safe and
"As a nation, we can ensure, as the Bible says, 'the needy
shall not always be forgotten and [that] the hope of the poor shall
not perish forever.'
"We can build an America that reflects who we are a
nation that is diverse in heritage and faith but united in our values
"We can build a safe and prosperous America with good jobs
and good wages; a strong, vibrant economy; and quality education
and health care for our children.
"We can give everyone in this nation the opportunity to realize
the American Dream whether they have been here for generations
or just arrived to our shores.
"Thank you for giving so many Hispanic Americans nueva esperanza.
"Thank you being here in Washington to help build the future
we all want.
"God bless you and your ministries. And God bless the United
States of America."
House of Representatives