The time is here to celebrate and  defend our Latino community
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As we approach Hispanic Heritage Month, Americans of Latino descent have much to be proud of. Our community’s impact on the socioeconomic wellbeing of this nation is at its peak. Latino purchasing power in the U.S. is worth $1.3 trillion, according to Nielsen. That is more than the GDP of Australia or Spain. In the arts, sciences and every other facet of American life, from the No. 1 song of the summer to the Supreme Court, Latinos have become an integral part of this nation’s diverse mosaic. Our community is not only the largest minority but is projected to become close to a quarter of the entire country’s population in just a few decades.

That is why it is so troublesome that on issue after issue, our community seems to constantly be placed in the crosshairs of politicians who would scapegoat Latinos for political gain — both on the state and federal levels. Whether it is by passing egregious and anti-rule of law bills such as S.B. 4 in Texas or phasing out the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, Latinos seem to have become the target of choice by politicians who prefer to build walls that divide us instead of bridges that unite us as a nation.

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The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators is proud to stand with a coalition of like-minded elected officials and grassroots organizations that advocate on a bipartisan basis for the rights of all Americans, including Latinos. We strongly believe that laws such as Texas’s S.B. 4, are not only unconstitutional, but shameful. This “show me your papers law on steroids” flies in the face of the freedoms and liberties that Americans hold dear, and we are confident that the courts will ultimately strike it down. That is why we are proud to be the first national Latino organization calling for a boycott of the state until the law is repealed.

Similarly, we were proud to become the first national Hispanic group to call for the decriminalization of cannabis, given its history of being rooted in racism, false science and criminal persecution against Latinos. Cannabis has the potential to be used to treat critical medical needs, such as epilepsy, anorexia, cancer and others. In addition, those who choose to use it recreationally should be required to do so responsibly and pay taxes, while the government eliminates the dangerous cartels and underground economy that is so detrimental to our society.

The issue of DACA is also close to our hearts. This is an American issue that strikes at the core of who we are as a country. Children that were brought here as minors, through no fault of their own, should not be deported to countries they have never known and whose language they may not even speak. “Dreamers” are American in every way except a piece of paper. We cannot deny them the right to be with their families, most of whom include citizen spouses, children or siblings, to continue serving in our military, contributing to the economy, and paying taxes. It is not only cruel, but it is the wrong approach for the nation.

On this month, as we celebrate the plethora of contributions Hispanics have made to the United States, we must also redouble our efforts to remind those who would target our community that Latinos have helped build this nation into the powerhouse of prosperity and diversity it is today. An attack on Latinos, therefore, should be considered an attack on all Americans, and we intend to advocate for our rights respectfully but firmly as a fundamental part of the nation we all love and cherish.

Romero-Cruz is the executive director of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators, which represents the interests of more than 400 Latino state legislators in the 50 states, U.S. territories and Puerto Rico. 

The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.