Last year, I made the difficult decision to retire from the U.S. Congress after ten terms representing my constituents of Deep South Texas – Rio Grande Valley.
Chief among the causes I had the privilege of championing has been making higher education both accessible and affordable for all, especially for Latinos, who make up 90 percent of my district and represent our nation’s youngest and fastest growing population.
As I move into a new chapter of my life, I am committed to electing Hillary Clinton as President. In my view, Hillary is the most experienced candidate to have ever run for President and has put forth policies that will make higher education a reality for countless Americans.
In 1910, my parents emigrated as young children from Mexico to South Texas, and English was their second language. For those of us who grew up bilingual along the Mexican border, receiving a quality education in a segregated elementary school was not easy.
With a drive to succeed, my parents founded a food processing company. I took full advantage of public education and committed to doing well in school and earn my college degree to become that company’s President and CEO for 20 years.
Similarly, Hillary understands the value of a college education and has put forth a plan allowing students, particularly those from working families, to attend public colleges and universities in their state debt-free. In contrast to Donald Trump’s lack of policy details, hateful rhetoric and misconduct, our nominee has explained how she will pay for investing in higher education – by closing loopholes and limiting tax expenditures for high-income earners.
Hillary Clinton’s plan will make bold new investments and work with states to reverse their failure to invest in higher education. As The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported, years of state funding cuts to public colleges and universities have driven up tuition and harmed students’ experiences by forcing college faculty reductions, campus closings and fewer course offerings.
In fact, funding for two- and four-year public colleges is nearly $10 billion below what it was just prior to the 2008 recession after adjusting for inflation. In response, Hillary committed to making historic investments in Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) and restoring year-round Pell Grants to help students reach their graduation goals sooner.
Instead of offering policies to lift up hard working families, Donald Trump has made his presidential campaign all about himself. He mocks our constitutional processes and showcases the worst of America as only a reality show star could do.
Hateful rhetoric like “that Mexican thing,” “bad hombres,” and “nasty women” are his latest insults against Latinos and women. Voters with their children watching are repeatedly bombarded by gratuitous and offensive statements against women for which he refuses to apologize as more women bravely step forward to tell their stories of sexual assault and degradation.
As a husband and father of four daughters, I am horrified that a presidential nominee who degrades women with regularity is only one step away from becoming our nation’s commander in chief in the wake of progress we achieved in combatting sexual assault in the military. We must move our country forward together and not reverse the progress we have made towards our civil rights and justices in the past century.
If we want to influence reform, change legislation, and aspire for a more educated society, we must be engaged and vote. We must not let others dictate the future of Latinos in our country. When it comes to the future of our students, the skills of our trained workforce, and the quality of life for all Americans, including Latinos, the choice in this presidential election could not be clearer.
I will cast my vote for Hillary Clinton because I am a proud son of immigrants who has dedicated his career to expanding educational opportunity for all. I am confident that Hillary will work with both parties to move our nation forward.
I respectfully urge you to vote early in Texas from now until November 4th, or on Election Day, November 8th, and elect Hillary Clinton as our 45th President of the United States, as well as our strong Democratic candidates down the ballot. We are stronger together when we are united together; let’s turn Texas blue together!