(WASHINGTON) — Vice President Joe Biden described the Hispanic population in this country as the “most powerful force in American politics” during a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Gala in Washington, D.C. Thursday night.
“I’m here to say thank you, and tell you how much this great country owes you and how much more can be done with the infusion of new blood, of new ideas,” Biden said. “Ladies and gentlemen, you are about to become, and already have, the most powerful force in American politics. Exercise that power well, and the country will embrace you.”
The Census Bureau says the 52 million Hispanics in this country accounted for 16.7 percent of the nation’s population in 2011, and the Pew Research Center has predicted nearly a third of the U.S. population will be Hispanic by 2050, a projection that Biden says Americans have embraced.
“The rest of America is beginning to understand that your success is America’s success,” Biden said.
With both parties aiming to attract the Latino vote this election cycle, the vice president touted the progress the administration has made to advance Latino causes, including improving access to education.
Biden expressed pride in the president’s executive action that halted the deportation of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to this country as children and promised there is more work to be done to ensure a path to citizenship is provided for those students.
“Look how the American people reacted to President Obama’s executive action lifting the threat of deportation from the Dreamers. It had to be emotional, fill all of you with pride how that first day those Dreamers were eligible to apply for deferred action, thousands lined up, block after block after block,” Biden said. “I’m proud of my president, I’m proud of what the president did and I know you’re equally proud.”
“Everyone in this room, maybe more than anyone in the country understands we’ve got a lot more to do. And we will not rest in this administration until we find a permanent path out of the shadows for those who spent their lives living in fear, a path to citizenship,” Biden added.
Biden lauded the work of the CHCI in providing scholarships and grants to Hispanic youth, and the vice president stressed the importance of promoting educational and job opportunities within the growing Hispanic population, whose leaders are ensuring Hispanics achieve their “rightful place in American society.”
“The contribution of the Hispanic community has been incredible, but you ain’t seen nothing yet,” Biden said.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackson Adams, Teton Valley News
Sophie Tatum, CNN
Stephen Collinson, CNN