By Raisa Camargo, Voxxi
The Vice President echoed what is indirectly said about the Latino vote during the many speeches and events held on a national scale this election year. He took it a step further last night and asserted that Latinos “are about to become and already have the most powerful force in American politics.”
“Exercise that power well,” he cautioned.
While invoking a fiery voice, Vice President Joe Biden addressed a crowd of Latino policy makers and heavy hitters at the closing of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute public policy conference. The annual gala attracted thousands of guests this year
Biden’s speech—while a pitch to galvanize Latinos for Obama—also offered a strong argument on how the Hispanic community has already positioned itself as a strong force able to sway political opinion.
He added that “much more can be done with the infusion of new blood, of new ideas.”
Biden reaffirmed that there will be a permanent solution for Dreamers and that the Obama administration will not rest until they find a path to citizenship.
“I’m proud of the way the rest of America reacted to the president’s action,” he said. ”Almost two-thirds of America stood up in support of the President’s action on the stance he took on the Dreamers because they know—what you know—it’s the right thing to do.”
So far, he cited that 72,000 Dreamers have applied for deferred action.
The DREAM Act and education were prominent themes at the CHCI conference this week. Education is one of the key components of the institute’s goals. An estimated 4,800 aspiring young Latinos were able to join CHCI’s efforts this year through internships and fellowships.
The celebration ended with a performance by musician Taboo of the Black Eyed Peas and comedic riffs from George Lopez. Throughout the night, guests were anticipating the arrival of the Vice President through notable appearances and performances such as Opera Hispanica.
Mirroring the institution’s goals, the Vice President pressed on the importance of education and how the president has committed himself to helping working class Hispanic students through the dispersal of Pell Grants, scholarships and placing a cap on student loans. He then lauded the efforts of CHCI and concluded that the only way they’ll be competitive by 2020 is through the help of organizations such as the caucus.
“So far, this institute has provided over three billion dollars in scholarships to over one thousand Hispanic children,” he said. “Among them will be the next president, the next member of Congress—by 2020 we’ll have the highest number of college graduates than any nation in the world.”
Biden also offered a caution about the Republican Party, saying that it no longer holds the same reputation.
“We got our hands full with this Republican Party—this is not your father’s Republican Party. As a matter of fact, it’s not even Mitt Romney’s father’s Republican Party.”
The Romney campaign released a reaction to Biden’s speech late Thursday night.
“Vice President Biden tonight talked a lot about education, but the Obama Administration has come up short for young Hispanic Americans,” said Sharon Castillo, a Romney campaign spokeswoman. “Half of recent college graduates can’t find full-time work, college costs have increased, and most Americans say college is unaffordable. Young Hispanic Americans deserve better.
“Mitt Romney will jump start the economy and ensure that young Hispanic Americans have the same opportunity to get an education, find work, and live the American Dream as previous generations,” Castillo said.
Still, Obama holds a strong lead against Romney among Latino voters—even though there is still a question on whether or not this year Latinos will come out and support the president.
On that note, the Vice President rounded out his speech with a closing remark after he thanked the crowd.
“The contribution of the Hispanic community has been incredible,” Biden said. “But you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
This article was first published in Voxxi.
Raisa Camargo is a staff writer at Voxxi.[Photo Courtesy USFS Region 5]