Hispanic Heritage Month:
Recognizing the Humanity in Everyone
Every year, between September 15 - October 15, Hispanic Heritage Month is observed and celebrated by millions of families. Sara and Misasha unpack the history behind it, and the reason it’s a painfully awkward event this year. They will also discuss ways that this month might promote some great, yet uncomfortable, conversations around recognizing the humanity in everyone.
“If you’ve lived in this country since the time you were a child, you no longer have a different home, so that seems crazy to send you ‘back home’, when this is your home.” Sara
Hispanic Heritage Month was created back in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week from legislation sponsored by Representative Edward Roybal of Los Angeles, and signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and runs from September 15 - October 15 every year.
Hispanic Heritage Month acknowledges five Latin American countries that declared their independence in 1821 from Spain. Those countries are Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
The ethnic composition of the people at the border waiting for asylum or medical assistance include many from the above-mentioned countries.
Misasha provides some fascinating background on the man behind the legislation, Representative Edward Roybal. This includes Roybal being the recognized leader of East side minority groups, co-founded the “House Select Committee on Aging” as a Congressman, and cared about and influenced issues relating to health and citizenship for people well beyond his district. In addition, to inclusive education health programs, he was ahead of the curve on aging, mental health, and fought for the first federal funding on Alzheimer’s Disease research.
The Roybal family can trace their roots in New Mexico back some eight generations, to before the Spanish settlement of Santa Fe.
There is a long history of Hispanic and Latinx service members in the military, dating back to the Civil War, and beyond. Misasha outlines some of their notable war heroes.
The Government Accountability Office says that ICE has been deporting non-citizen Hispanic and Latinx veterans without being properly screened. Officials in the Department of Homeland Security, the parent agency of ICE, said they didn’t consider the veteran and non-veteran status in removal proceedings and were unaware of policies to the contrary.
ICE does not know how many veterans have been placed in removal proceedings, or removed.
You can be a citizen to serve in the military, but you can also be a green card holder. A green card holder is someone who is in the United States legally, but is not a citizen. If you are not a citizen, you are not allowed to rise above a certain rank.
If you are an undocumented immigrant and wanted to enlist, they will run your name against an immigration database, which would flag you as not eligible to serve.
Mass deportations: this has happened in our country less than a hundred years ago. During the 1930’s and in to the 1940’s, up to two million Mexicans and Mexican Americans were deported or expelled from cities and towns across the US and shipped to Mexico. According to some estimates, more than half of these people were American citizens, born in the United States. The true impact of this on families in Mexico and the United States is still trying to be understood.
Sara shares the story of Emilia Castaneda and her family, victims of the mass deportations.
National Hispanic Heritage Month - Resources for Teachers!
Decade of Betrayal: Mexican Repatriation in the 1930s, by Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez
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