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Jan 18, 2019

Latino Legislators Condemn Anti-Hispanic Remarks by Congressman Smith

WASHINGTON, DC– The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) strongly condemned Congressman Jason Smith (R-MO) for remarks he shouted on the floor of the US House of Representatives today, in which he told Members of Congress from the other side of the aisle to “go back to Puerto Rico.” NHCSL President and Puerto Rico Senate Majority Leader Carmelo Ríos issued the following statement:

“Congressman Smith has insulted Members of Congress for either being Latinos or for doing their jobs. If the Congressman’s comments were directed at Members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus in a ‘go back to Mexico’-type of statement, then he should immediately apologize for this blatantly anti-Hispanic and bigoted insult. If, on the other hand and as he later alleged, Mr. Smith was referring to a group of over 30 Members of Congress who went to visit the Island of Puerto Rico recently to examine the reconstruction process more than a year after the most devastating natural disaster in modern US history, where more than 3,000 American citizens died, then he is adding insult to injury. This trip was timely and important, since last year we urged Congress to provide equal, non-discriminatory federal treatment for Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands in its recovery efforts after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This was the largest Congressional Delegation to visit the Island shows the importance for the new Congress to address this issue with the sense of urgency. If the trip had taken place in Congressman Smith’s state of Missouri after a similarly catastrophic natural disaster, would he have shouted the same words? I highly doubt it. That is why today I am calling for the leadership of his Caucus to condemn Mr. Smith’s remarks and make clear that they in no way, shape, or form represent the sentiment of the House GOP Caucus.

“Now more than ever we must stand with Puerto Rico, and other jurisdictions that have suffered through hurricanes, wildfires, earthquakes and other devastating events in the last year. Congress needs to focus on supporting the rebuilding efforts of our Island and we thank those Members of Congress and Senators who came to Puerto Rico, learned about our ongoing needs, and pledged their support to the 3.2 million US citizens that reside here.”

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NHCSL is the premier national association of Hispanic state legislators working to design and implement policies and procedures that will improve the quality of life for Hispanics throughout the country. NHCSL was founded in 1989 as a nonpartisan, nonprofit 501(c)3 with the mission to be the most effective voice for the more than 400 Hispanic legislators. For more information visit www.nhcsl.org.