September 19, 2003

Commentary

Honoring the Legacy of Mexican Independence Day

By Assemblywoman Shirley Horton

On September 16th, California celebrated Mexican Independence Day, which commemorates the start of Mexico’s war for independence with Spain in 1810. It was on this day that Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla inspired the people of Mexico to rise against the tyranny of the Spanish government, and work toward Mexican self-determination.

As Californians celebrate Mexican Independence this week and continue to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month at fairs, festivals, and parades, it is important that we reflect not only upon Mexico’s independence, but also upon the important contributions of Mexican Americans to our state. Through their contributions to help keep the world fed, Mexican Americans have kept California moving. Their work ethic and strong family values help to strengthen the fabric of our society.

In the past fifty years, Mexican Americans have moved from the fields and factories to the corporate world, becoming an important political and economic force in the Golden State. From small business owners and professors to community leaders and members of the California Legislature, Mexican Americans have successfully advocated important economic and social reforms that have propelled California.

It is important that as California policymakers, we continue our commitment to the fundamental goal: equality of opportunity for all. Our nation has made important strides to ensure that individuals are judged by the content of their character, rather than by the color of their skin. But there is much more we can do to expand educational and economic opportunities for all.

We must ensure that our neighborhood schools provide a first rate education for our children, that our public colleges and universities remain the envy of the world, and that college graduates are able to obtain good, high paying jobs. As policymakers, we must continue to improve the quality of public education in California, especially in poor and predominantly-minority neighborhoods. Being able to read, write, and communicate is vital for success in the California economy. A quality education is key to bulldozing obstacles to success.

While a good education is key to a successful future, it is important that the Legislature adopt policies that promote economic opportunity, rather than restrict it. We must not be tempted to enact the job-killing regulations and burdensome taxes and fees that have sent hundreds of businesses and thousands of jobs out of state. An unfriendly business climate impedes the ability of Mexican Americans to start and expand businesses in California, especially in their own communities. Expanding enterprise zones, promoting small business loans, and reducing taxes and regulations are just a few steps the Legislature can take to expand economic opportunity for all Californians. California should promote, rather than hinder, the ability of hard working families to achieve the American dream.

As we to celebrate 16 de Septiembre, we should echo the call of Don Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, who in urging the Mexican people to overthrow the Spanish government, issued his famous proclamation: “Long live independence! Death to bad government!”

Assemblywoman Shirley Horton (R-Chula Vista) represents the 78th Assembly District in the California State Assembly, which includes the communities of Paradise Hills, Encanto, City Heights and Spring Valley.

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