January 21, 2004
Translated Text of Gov. Richardson's Spanish-Language Response to Bush
The Associated Press
Here's the text of Gov. Bill Richardson's response to the president's State of the Union address. Richardson spoke in Spanish; the translation below was provided by his office:
Good evening. I am Bill Richardson, the governor of New Mexico, and the only Hispanic governor in the United States.
It is an honor to give the response to the president's State of the Union address on behalf of my family, my state, and my Democratic colleagues. This is a historic moment since this is the first time a response to the State of the Union has been given in Spanish, at a national and international level.
I also represent a state where 42 percent of the population is Hispanic. New Mexico has the highest percentage of Hispanics in the entire nation.
The majority of American citizens believe that as Hispanics we only care about issues like immigration and civil rights. However, Hispanics also care deeply about conventional issues that affect all Americans access to health care, education reform, economic growth, and foreign affairs, such as the war in Iraq.
As Americans we believe in the American dream. However, nearly 300,000 Hispanics have lost their jobs since the Bush administration took office. We care about support for small business and home ownership. We are prepared to elect the next president of the United States, and with our growing numbers we can decide the election. That is why both political parties are giving us all this attention.
The power of special interests in Washington has grown even more in the last four years. Meanwhile, the power of common citizens, like us, continues to shrink. The result: loss of jobs and decreased wages, accompanied by enormous debt.
Tonight, President Bush used very optimistic and positive words to describe many of our most serious problems.
But unfortunately he has failed to give us solutions, and he has lost numerous opportunities to present a plan that attacks our most serious problems. He has not presented a plan to combat the nearly 50 percent Hispanic dropout rate. He has not given us the resources necessary to better our education system for our communities.
The president has not given us a plan to improve access to health care for our people. We live in a nation with enormous scientific resources and the most advanced medical research in the world. Nonetheless, 18 million Hispanics are without health care, many of them are children. Thirty-eight percent of Hispanics in the workforce are without health care, and those who have health care have seen their costs jump by 14 percent in the last year alone.
I now want to talk about immigration. The president has taken a small step forward with his immigration plan. His initiative includes some positive points, like Social Security benefits and some labor protection, but it does not help immigrant workers to obtain the golden dream: legalization and residency without impunity.
Instead of being a way to a better life, the Bush plan represents a dead-end for immigrants, who after three years don't have a guarantee they'll be able to stay. The only thing they have to look forward to is the threat of deportation.
Undocumented workers are a reality that we have to address with realistic expectations. These workers pay taxes, work hard, and contribute to our economy.
Many Hispanics, including many young Hispanics are soldiers in Iraq and have died for our country. The least our country can do is to offer them citizenship, or help them become legal residents.
The Democratic Party has always supported the interests of Hispanics. Immigration and civil rights laws, opportunities for housing, and employment have been inspired by presidents like John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton and by Democratic Congresses. The Republican Party has collectively ruined much for us, especially with anti-immigration efforts such as Proposition 187 in California. The Bush immigration plan is even being strongly opposed by conservative members of his own party.
In this election, the Hispanic vote will be critical because of our large numbers in states like Florida, New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, California, Nevada, New Jersey, and New York. If we do not register and vote, the two parties will not continue to pay attention to us. This presidential election is more important than ever before.
The Democratic Party has always been with us, and we should not forget who really are our true friends and allies.