By Billy Goulston
Former Clinton cabinet member Henry Cisneros prophesied Monday at the Latino Heritage Assembly that the best days of America are yet to come in light of the rapid growth of the Hispanic community.
Liana Weston â07, who organized Cisnerosâs visit, introduced the speaker as the first Latino mayor of a major American city, San Antonio, Texas.
Cisneros also served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under former president Bill Clinton during the beginning of his second term. Cisneros said that he decided to pursue a career in the area of urban development after majoring in the subject in college.
After encouraging the student body to pursue positions of leadership, Cisneros discussed the âHispanicizationâ of the United States, the major theme of his speech.
As the fastest growing minority in the country, the Hispanic community is expected to comprise almost 50 percent of the U.S. population growth until 2050.
The community is constantly rooting itself deeper and deeper into the leadership of many different institutions in America from the election of Antonio Villaraigosa as Los Angeles mayor to Shakiraâs winning of several MTV Music Awards this year, Cisneros said.
âIt is not enough to separate the Hispanic future from the American future,â he said. âThey are one and the same.â
Cisneros emphasized that because of the increasing number of Hispanics in the United States, especially in Southern California, a large number of the people that students will have to deal with in the future will be Hispanics. He expressed concerns over whether the ever-growing community would contribute to American society, explaining that a major gap in incomes between Hispanics and the white majority has resulted from the lack of their education thus far.
He went on to discuss his views on the immigration issue that has further polarized the political views of the country.
The salience of the immigration issue could be a significant contributor to the results of yesterdayâs elections, he said.
Cisneros told the student body and faculty to âopen up to the real worldâ rather than become âentrenched in [their] ivory towers.â
In the question-and-answer session, Cisneros spoke of his support for President George W. Bushâs guest worker program. Though the requirements for citizenship should be raised for illegal immigrants, the legalization of their staying in the country is necessary, he said.
Cisneros now focuses on city development and housing for his career.
âI watched a native American woman in South Dakota. She was handed the keys (to her new house), and her skirt started to shake, and she started sobbing,â he said.
Cisneros pleaded guilty in 1999 to a misdemeanor count of lying to the FBI. In the 1993 background check for his cabinet position, he lied about payments he made to a former mistress. Clinton pardoned him in Janurary 2001.