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With a White House event recognizing Hispanic Heritage Month, which began Sept. 15, Latino issues are taking on a local and national focus like never before. 

President Donald Trump’s Hispanic month proclamation highlights Latin business achievements, civic and military service, while emphasizing the strength of our political and economic relationships with Latin America. 

Hispanic heritage was first approved as a weeklong celebration by President Lyndon Johnson in 1968.  President Ronald Reagan extended it to a month in 1988.

In East Room ceremonies Sept. 27, Trump hosted about 250 of the nation’s Hispanic leaders.  Invited Virginians included Fredericksburg Circuit Court Judge Ricardo Rigual and his wife, Cory; Luis Quinonez of Clifton, a member of the President’s Battle Monument Commission; and Stafford Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Philip Garcia Chichester.

These individuals are leading the National Veterans Court Alliance to encourage Congress to pass H.R. 866, the “Veteran Treatment Court Coordination Act of 2019.” Virginia has six veterans dockets that help to resolve legal issues involving veterans through a compassionate, coordinated treatment program.

Nationally, Trump understandably courts the powerful independent Latin vote, with Hispanic, black and Asian unemployment at their lowest levels in history, while Latin homeownership continues to rise.  

Hispanic media figures such as Steve Cortes are regularly seen on CNN touting the accomplishments of the administration – and he is still introducing Trump on the campaign trail before huge Latin audiences. Quinonez is a regular on Hispanic media combating misinformation by liberal Latin pundits. 

If the program and banquet spread of the past two White House events are any indication of this year’s, it’s no wonder the invitation remains the most sought after in Hispanic circles nationwide.  

Although there will be revelry for proud Americans of Hispanic descent at the White House, there will also be sobering discussions of the immigration issues over the influx of mostly illegal immigrants from our southern border.

And other serious issues include the fate of Virginia’s 26,000 DACA recipients who arrived with illegal parents at various ages or were born here and who anxiously await a compassionate resolution by Trump for a legal path to citizenship.

It’s sometimes a hard pill to swallow for the millions of legal immigrants who played by the rules and waited up to 10 years to become citizens.  But Trump must act expeditiously in fairness to these children -- many in schools or with jobs and leading honorable lives.

Equally concerning with respect to DACA issues are the number of illegals living in the country and creating exorbitant costs for children’s services as well as community infrastructure costs.  Do legal Hispanics care that millions of their tax dollars pay for medical care, education and law enforcement for the undocumented?  

Then what must be potentially added to the growing illegal community are 335,000 national asylum claims that remain pending, with many of them fraudulent. 

I see Hispanic Heritage Month as a month of opportunity for hard-hearted politicians to demonstrate their true understanding of our immigration dilemma.  

In the President’s Hispanic Heritage Proclamation, he touted the creation of Opportunity Zones to drive investments to distressed communities.   What a zone for opportunity for conservative officials not known for their sensitivity to show genuine outreach and possibly win back Virginia.

Daniel P. Cortez, who lives in Stafford County, is a political writer and broadcaster active in veterans and minority affairs.  He can be reached at: dpcortez1969@yahoo.com

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