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VP Biden on the importance of Latinos

Photo by Joe Raedle / Getty Images

Sounds like the heir apparent is a fan of my stuff:

“Vice President Joe Biden rallied Latino members of Congress on Thursday to push for immigration reform, calling Latinos ‘the center of the nation’s future’ and reminding them that their political power will only grow after the last presidential election.

‘The way to make the mark … is for the Hispanic community to step up and step out and let the world know, let the Republicans know, let others know that if you ignore the needs and concerns of the Hispanic community, you will not win,’ Biden said at a swearing-in event hosted by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, a nonpartisan group that runs programs encouraging Latino leadership.

A record 26 members were welcomed into the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which is separate from the institute, on Thursday. Not all Latino members of Congress joined the caucus, but their total, too, is a record: There are three senators and 33 House members of Latino descent in the 113th Congress.”

I think I’ve said it before — and if I haven’t, I should have — but Latinos are the new Irish Catholics.

The 19th century saw Irish Catholics go from fleeing a terrible potato famine in the old country, and building canals and railroads as personae non gratae in the new country, to working as policemen, firemen and politicians, in addition to having a popular parade every spring and a popular president in the ’60s. Now, Irishness is an integral part of mainstream American culture — especially if, like me, you live in a famously Irish city.

Today, Latinos are the ones on the rise, and they have been for some time. Latinidad is gradually becoming Americana.

Now that Latinos have become such an important feature of American society and will increasingly extend their influence in the coming decades, it seems the reforms many of us call for so vocally will come to fruition only by the sweat of our own brow. We are the shapers and builders of America. This extraordinary experiment is our inheritance as much as it is anyone else’s. Whatever we don’t like, we can help do away with. Whatever needs fixing, we can help improve. Latinos are now the governors and the governed.

As the vice president told his audience on Thursday, “It’s no longer about what can be done for the Hispanic community. The question is what the Hispanic community is going to do to take this country to a totally new place.”

A handful of Latino generations have come and gone, waiting for opportunity to knock so Latinos could finally have a seat at the table. Well, opportunity has come.

Knock. Knock.

About Hector Luis Alamo, Jr.

Hector Luis Alamo, Jr., is the associate editor at Being Latino and a native son of Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. He received a B.A. in history at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where his concentration was on ethnic relations in the United States. While at UIC, he worked first as a staff writer for the Chicago Flame and later became the newspaper's Opinions editor. He contributes to various Chicago-area publications, most notably, the RedEye and Gozamos. He's also a cultural critic for 'LLERO magazine. He has maintained a personal blog since 2007, YoungObservers.blogspot.com, where he discusses topics ranging from political history and philosophy to culture and music.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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