Magazine, The Immigrant Experience
Hispanic-Latino Americans have always been a crucial part of US politics. From the American Revolution to the civil war period, and from the first world war to the end of the cold war, they have been there in the policy chambers, and among the public to lead America to the rank of the ‘world hegemon’. Even the current US administration includes four Hispanic Cabinet Secretaries — Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, and Small Business Administrator Isabel Guzman.
To recognize and honor their contributions, the Immigrant Magazine has come up with a list of 10 Hispanic-Latino Americans, who greatly influenced US politics for the good of American society.
- Ben Ray Lujan
Ben Ray Lujan, the junior US Senator from New Mexico (since 2021) is an influential politician and first-ever Hispanic who served as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (2014). He defeated Mark Ronchetti (Republican) in GE 2020 and became United States Senator. In the 2018 elections, the Democrats won a House majority only due to his efforts. Lujan’s family were Hispanos of New Mexico, descendants of colonial settlers in the area long before it was part of the US.
- Ted Cruz
Ted Cruz, the junior US Senator for Texas (since 2013) is a Cuban-American politician. He is the first Hispanic to represent Texas in the Senate. Cruz’s father migrated to the US from Cuba in 1957. Her mother is of three-quarters Irish and one-quarter Italian descent. From 2003-2008, Cruz served as the Solicitor General of Texas (lawyer for Texas). He is also well known for his work as a policy advisor during the George Bush administration from 2003-2008. In 2016, he became the first Hispanic to win either a presidential primary election or caucus when he won the Iowa caucuses as a Republican nominee.
- Bob Menendez
Bob Menendez, the senior US Senator from New Jersey (since 2006) is a politician and a member of the Democratic Party. He chaired the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from 2013-2015. Menendez was born in 1954, a year after his parents migrated to the US from Cuba. His father was a carpenter while his mother was a seamstress.
- Luis Munoz Marin
Luis Munoz Marin, the first democratically elected governor of Puerto Rico was a politician, statesman, and journalist. He did many reforms in economic, political, and social administrations that were widely lauded by political scientists and economists. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, with Special Distinction.
- Jorge Ramos
Jorge Gilberto Ramos Ávalos ranked as the most trusted Hispanic in the US, is a Mexican-American political news anchor regarded as the best-known Spanish language anchor in the US. He has also been referred to as “The Walter Cronkite of Latin America”. He has won 10 Emmy Awards and the Maria Moors Cabot Prize for excellence in journalism. He is a major figure in Hispanic-American life and American politics. Time magazine had put him on the list of “The World’s Most Influential People”. He was born on March 16, 1958, in Mexico City, Mexico, and came to the US on a student visa in 1983.
- Mel Martinez
Mel Martinez, the former US Senator from Florida (since 2005-5009), is a former politician and lobbyist who remained chairman of the Republican Party from 2006-2007. He was also the 12th Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the George Bush era. He is also labeled as the first Hispanic-American Senator since 1977. He was born in Sagua La Grande, Cuba, and came to the US in 1962 along with 14,000 children under a Roman Catholic humanitarian effort called
‘Operation Peter Pan’.
- John E. Sununu
John Henry Sununu is an American politician who was the 75th governor of New Hampshire from 1983-1989 and White House Chief of Staff under President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1991. Born in Cuba, he is of Greek, Hispanic, and Lebanese descent, and he is the first Hispanic American, Arab American, and Greek American to be the governor of New Hampshire and the White House Chief of Staff. He is the father of John E. Sununu, the former Senator from New Hampshire, and Christopher Sununu, the current governor of New Hampshire.
- Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Known by her initials AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is an American politician and activist, who has been serving as the US representative for New York’s 14th congressional district since 2019 as a Democrat. She is the youngest woman ever to serve in the US Congress. She was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx to a Nuyorican family. Her mother was born in Puerto Rico.
- Alex Padilla
Alex Padilla, the junior Senator from California (since 2021) is a politician and member of the Democratic Party. He is the first Hispanic senator from California as well as the first male senator from California since 1993. He also remained the 32nd Secretary of State of California (2015-2021). His Mexican father and mother emigrated from Jalisco and the Chihuahua states of the United Mexican States.
- Dennis Chavez
Dennis Chavez is the first Hispanic who was elected to the US Senate, and the first US Senator to be born in New Mexico. He served in the House of Representatives from 1931-1935, and in the Senate from 1935-1962. He was born in Los Chavez and his parents were members of families that had been living in Los Chavez for generations.
Every year, the US officially celebrates Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15 to recognize the contributions and influence of people belonging to this ethnic group on American history and culture, and its achievements as an independent nation. It is important to celebrate this month with national fervor as recognition of one’s contributions inspires others to play their due role. Moreover, it creates a sense of ownership among all Americans – regardless of their ethnic, lingual, geographical, or religious orientation – that they are an integral part of the US and that they should partake in national development.