Members Call on Congress to Swiftly Pass The National Museum of the American Latino Act to Improve Latino Representation in the Institution’s Work
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) issued the following joint statement in response to the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Initiative report entitled Invisible No More, which highlights the Smithsonian Institution’s systemic underrepresentation of Latino arts and culture and failure to implement its own recommendations to improve Latino representation within the Institution.
“The findings in the Invisible No More report are quite alarming, but come as no surprise to many of us. In the 24 years since the initial report was released, the Smithsonian Institution has ignored many of its own recommendations to improve Latino inclusion and representation at all levels of the Institution. The continued failure to make any progress on these key goals underscores the Institution’s lack of commitment to the Latino community.
“American Latinos are the largest and fastest growing ethnic group in the United States. The U.S. Census estimates that by 2060 this population will reach nearly 119 million, or 30 percent of the U.S. population. The contributions this community has made to American culture and our way of life since our nation was founded are immeasurable. Yet, Latinos remain vastly underrepresented in nearly every facet of American life.
“We urge our colleagues in Congress to join us in supporting The National Museum of the American Latino Act to quickly pass and begin the process of establishing a new museum on the National Mall dedicated to highlighting and sharing the American Latino experience with the world. The rich history and experience of millions of American Latinos that have helped shape our society deserves to be told. The time to act is now.”
In 1994, the Smithsonian Institution issued Willful Neglect, a report that acknowledged a severe lack of Latino representation within the Institution. It issued 10 recommendations to improve Latino inclusion. The UCLA LPPI report is the first attempt to measure the Institution’s progress in implementing its own goals in 24 years. The report found that the Institution failed to make progress on 7 of its 10 overall recommendations. In addition, the report found that the continued decrease in federal funding for the Smithsonian Latino Center and a pervasive dearth of leadership roles held by Latinos remain ongoing barriers to full Latino inclusion and representation.
The National Museum of the American Latino Act (H.R. 2911/S. 1364) is bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will establish the creation of the National Museum of the American Latino within the Smithsonian Institution to share and celebrate the history, culture, arts, and contributions made by Latinos in the United States. Its primary sponsors are Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Congressman José E. Serrano (D-NY), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). The legislation currently enjoys the support of 47 members of the House of Representatives (14 Republicans and 32 Democrats) and 13 Senators (5 Republicans and 8 Democrats). More information about the legislation can be found here.
WASHINGTON — The bipartisan fiscal year 2019 Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act includes a provision offered by Representative Betty McCollum (DLF-Minn.) that enables individuals who are diagnosed with cancer to defer payments on their public student loans while actively receiving lifesaving treatment.
“We currently allow individuals to defer student loan payments for various qualifying reasons such as going back to school, joining the armed services, looking for a job, or becoming permanently disabled,” Representative McCollum said. “Unfortunately, for the more than 70,000 young adults diagnosed with cancer each year, cancer treatment has not qualified for deferment.” The amendment was modeled off of the Deferment for Active Cancer Treatment Act of 2017, H.R. 2796, introduced by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.).
“Cancer patients should not have to worry about their student loan payments while fighting for their lives. I’m so pleased that my colleague, Betty, was able to get this important bill included in the upcoming minibus where it will come to a vote by the full House,” Representative Ros-Lehtinen said. “Along with my colleague, Ed, we have fought to ensure that student loan payments don’t take precedence over health and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
“The hardships created for individuals and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis is only exacerbated by the financial burden of student loans when receiving treatment. This bipartisan provision is a no brainer and choosing between paying your medical bills or paying your student loans is a decision no person should be forced to make.” Representative Perlmutter said.
Representative McCollum offered the amendment during the House Appropriations Committee markup of the Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which the Committee passed on a voice vote. The bipartisan conference committee report is expected to be considered by the Senate and the House in the coming weeks, before the fiscal year deadline.
“I hope that without having to worry about making their student loan payments, these patients will be able to focus on what is most important—beating their disease and getting healthy,” Representative McCollum said. “I want to thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, especially Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole and Ranking Member Rosa DeLauro for working with me on this important amendment,” Representative McCollum said.
Ros-Lehtinen Encabeza Tercera Carta Bipartidista y Bicameral Instando a la Administración a Apoyar al Pueblo Nicaragüense a Hacer Designaciones Adicionales Bajo la Ley Global Magnitsky
(Washington, DC) - A la Congresista Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) se unieron los senadores Marco Rubio (R-FL) y Bill Nelson (D-FL) en el Senado y los Congresistas Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Michael Conaway (R-TX), Steve Chabot (R-OH) y Tedd Budd (R-NC) en la Cámara, para enviar una carta bipartidista y bicameral al Presidente instando a la Administración a usar la autoridad otorgada bajo la Ley Global Magnitsky de Responsabilidad de Derechos Humanos para responsabilizar a personas en Nicaragua involucradas en abusos a los derechos humanos y actos de corrupción. En la carta, los miembros hacen un llamado al Departamento de Estado y al Departamento del Tesoro para que tomen medidas inmediatas para determinar si Sonia Castro, Laureano Ortega Murrillo, Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo y Gustavo Porras cumplen con los criterios de la ley para ser sancionados. Para leer una copia de la carta, haga clic aquí.
Declaración de Ros-Lehtinen: “La Administración ha tomado las medidas necesarias para responsabilizar a funcionarios clave del régimen de Ortega por atroces violaciones de derechos humanos y desvergonzados actos de corrupción. Sin embargo, mientras Ortega y sus compinches continúan intensificando su represión contra el pueblo nicaragüense, hostigando, golpeando y deteniendo arbitrariamente a cualquiera que exija la salida de Ortega del poder, los E.E.U.U. puede y debe hacer más. Una manera de hacerlo es designando y sancionando a más individuos bajo la Ley Global Magnitsky. Ninguna persona, independientemente de la posición que ocupe, tiene derecho a abusar de las libertades de los demás. Es por eso que mis colegas y yo estamos instando a la Administración a investigar las acciones infames de cuatro individuos, incluyendo a dos hijos de Ortega, Laureano Ortega Murillo y Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo. Al utilizar esta herramienta vital de política exterior de Estados Unidos, podemos poner fin a la impunidad y enviar un fuerte mensaje de que Estados Unidos está de parte del pueblo nicaragüense.”
NOTA: El 5 de junio de 2018, Ros-Lehtinen dirigió una carta bipartidista y bicameral en la que solicitaba a la Administración que determinara si Francisco López, Jefe de ALBANISA, y Francisco Díaz, Comisionado Adjunto de la Policía Nacional y Director de facto, cumplían con los criterios para ser sancionados bajo la Ley Global Magnitsky. Junto a Ros-Lehtinen estuvieron los Representantes Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Norma Torres (D-CA) y Michael Conaway (R-TX), y los Senadores Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL) y Ted Cruz (R-TX). El 5 de julio de 2018, la Administración anunció que designaba a tres funcionarios del régimen de Ortega bajo la Ley Global Magnitsky, incluyendo a López y a Díaz.
El 1ro de Diciembre de 2017, los Congresistas Ros-Lehtinen y Albio Sires (D-NJ) enviaron una carta bipartidista y bicameral a la administración urgiendo al Departamento de Estado y al Departamento de Tesoro pidiendo una investigación a Roberto Rivas y Francisco Lopez y determinen si cumplen con los criterios para ser sancionados bajo la Ley Global Magnitsky. Se le unieron en enviar esta carta los Senadores Marco Rubio (R-FL), Robert Menéndez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), y Bill Nelson (D-FL), y los Congresistas Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), y Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). El 21 de Diciembre del 2017, la Administración anuncio que designaba a Rivas bajo la Ley Global Magnitsky por abusos a los derechos humanos y actos de corrupción.
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Ros-Lehtinen Leads Third Bipartisan, Bicameral Letter Urging the Administration to Support the Nicaraguan People by Making Additional Global Magnitsky Designations
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) was joined by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) in the Senate and Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Robin Kelly (D-IL), Michael Conaway (R-TX), Steve Chabot (R-OH) and Tedd Budd (R-NC) in the House, in sending a bipartisan and bicameral letter to the President urging the Administration to use the authority provided under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act to hold individuals in Nicaragua accountable for human rights abuses and acts of corruption. In the letter, the Members call upon the Department of State and the Department of Treasury to take immediate action to determine whether Sonia Castro, Laureano Ortega Murrillo, Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo and Gustavo Porras meet the law’s criteria to be sanctioned. To read a copy of the letter, please click here.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen: “The Administration has taken necessary steps to hold key Ortega regime officials accountable for egregious human rights violations and shameless acts of corruption. However, as Ortega and his cronies continue to intensify their crackdown on the Nicaraguan people by harassing, beating and arbitrarily detaining anyone who demands Ortega’s exit from power, the U.S. can and must do more. One way to do that is to continue to designate and sanction more individuals under the Global Magnitsky Act. No person, no matter what position he or she holds, has the right to abuse of the liberties of others. That is why my colleagues and I are urging the Administration to investigate the wrongdoings of four individuals, including two of Ortega’s sons, Laureano Ortega Murillo and Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo. By using this vital U.S. foreign policy tool, we can seek an end to impunity while sending a strong message that the United States stands with the Nicaraguan people.”
NOTE: On June 5, 2018, Ros-Lehtinen led a bipartisan, bicameral letter asking the Administration to determine whether Francisco Lopez, head of ALBANISA, and Francisco Diaz, Deputy Commissioner of the National Police and de facto Director, met the criteria to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. Joining Ros-Lehtinen were Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Norma Torres (D-CA) and Michael Conaway (R-TX), and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). On July 5, 2018, the Administration announced it was designating three Ortega regime officials under Global Magnitsky including Lopez and Diaz.
On December 1, 2017, Reps. Ros-Lehtinen and Albio Sires (D-NJ) sent a bicameral, bipartisan letter asking the Administration to investigate Roberto Rivas and Francisco Lopez and determine whether they met criteria to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. They were also joined in this letter by Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Reps. Ed Royce (R-CA), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), and Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). On December 21, 2017, the Administration announced it was designating Rivas under the Global Magnitsky Act for human rights violations and acts of corruption.
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Reps. Frankel, Ros-Lehtinen Lead Letter Condemning Arrests of Women’s Rights Activists in Saudi Arabia
West Palm Beach, FL – Today, Co-Chair of the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues Rep. Lois Frankel (FL-21), Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee Chairman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), and 12 members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee sent a letter to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urging him to call for the prompt release of at least a dozen women’s rights activists who have been arrested and arbitrarily detained by Saudi Arabia.
“These brave champions should not be targeted and punished for advocating for their rights and empowering women and girls,” said Rep. Frankel, Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. “The growing arrests are deeply concerning. I urge the State Department to press Saudi Arabian authorities to end this crackdown and immediately release the imprisoned human rights defenders.”
“I’m proud to join with my friend and colleague, Lois, in urging Secretary Pompeo to take a stronger stand in support of these brave women and all human rights in Saudi Arabia,” said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. “These arrests contradict the Crown Prince’s stated acknowledgement of women’s equality and his desire to improve his country’s human rights record, and undermine the limited progress that has already been made. A more open and equal society that respects women’s rights is essential for Saudi Arabia’s long-term success as well as U.S. interests in the Middle East. The United States must press Saudi Arabia’s leaders to release these women and make human rights a priority in our bilateral relations.”
In part, the letter states:
“Yet since May 15, Saudi authorities have arrested multiple prominent women’s rights advocates and imposed travel bans on numerous others, many of them longtime supporters of ending the ban on women driving and abolishing the male guardianship system. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison.”
“Promoting human rights and democracy has long been a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy, including advancing the rights and empowerment of women and girls. As such, we urge you to press Saudi Arabia to release these activists, strongly affirm the United States’ commitment to gender equality and emphasize the need for Saudi Arabia to cease its ongoing repression of human rights defenders.”
Full text of the letter can be found here.
Ros-Lehtinen’s Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Ortega Regime Murders and Violence in Nicaragua Passes House
“Today, this body is standing up for some of our most cherished values and ideals and we are unequivocally rejecting the Ortega regime’s abuses and its corruption. Today we can send a loud, unified and clear message that we are watching, we are acting, and we are supporting the aspirations of all freedom-loving Nicaraguans.”
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, made the following statement after her resolution, H.Res. 981 condemning the intimidation, violence, persecution, and murders committed against the people of Nicaragua by the Ortega regime, passed the House of Representatives today. Ros-Lehtinen’s resolution, which was co-sponsored by Reps. Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Norma Torres (D-CA), and Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), expresses the House’s full support for the Nicaraguan people in their pursuit of democracy and the rule of law in their nation and calls on the administration to sanction Ortega regime officials under the Magnitsky Act who are responsible for the murders, arrests, and violence in Nicaragua.
Statement by Ros-Lehtinen (as prepared for delivery):
“Thank you Chairman Royce and Ranking Member Engel for your leadership in bringing this important and timely resolution to the floor.
I’m grateful to have worked alongside both of you, as well as Chairman Cook and Ranking Member Sires of the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee in introducing House Resolution 981.
This resolution condemns the persecution, intimidation, violence and murders committed by the Government of Nicaragua against its citizens.
Mr. Speaker, 450: that is how many Nicaraguans have been killed by the Ortega regime and its thugs since April of this year;
The death toll is rising by the day, as the regime has authorized a “shoot to kill”policy in cities like Masaya and Jinotega.
Add that to the thousands injured, arrested, and the forced disappearances, and we’re talking about a massive and severe repression by a regime that will do anything to stay in power.
On Monday, Ortega had the audacity to go on Fox News and say that everything was under control and that the Nicaraguan people were the ones responsible for the bloodshed – a desperate attempt by a desperate, but dangerous, fool.
Mr. Speaker, it’s a dire situation and getting worse.
That is why we need to hold Ortega accountable for his evil and violent actions and put additional pressure on him and his regime.
The Administration has shown great leadership in condemning Ortega and sanctioning some of his regime’s top officials under the Global Magnitsky Act.
My resolution urges the Administration to do more, to target more Ortega goons for sanctions, and I urge this body to do more – time is of the essence.
This measure is simple and straightforward:
It rightfully identifies Ortega as the orchestrator of the violence and urges the Administration to take more action against the regime;
It also demonstrates our unwavering support to the people of Nicaragua in their pursuit for democracy, including calling for early, free and fair elections overseen by credible domestic and international observers.
And, this resolution calls upon responsible nations to stand in solidarity with the people of Nicaragua.
Today, this body is standing up for some of our most cherished values and ideals and we are unequivocally rejecting the Ortega regime’s abuses and its corruption.
Today we can send a loud, unified and clear message that we are watching, we are acting, and we are supporting the aspirations of all freedom-loving Nicaraguans.
I urge my colleagues to support this resolution - thank you.”
Note: On June 5, 2018 Ros-Lehtinen led a bipartisan, bicameral letter asking the Administration to determine whether Francisco Lopez, head of ALBANISA, and Francisco Diaz, Deputy Commissioner of the National Police and de facto Director, meet the criteria to be sanctioned under the Global Magnitsky Act. Joining Ros-Lehtinen were Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY), Paul Cook (R-CA), Albio Sires (D-NJ), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), Norma Torres (D-CA) and Michael Conaway (R-TX), and Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Ted Cruz (R-TX). On July 5, 2018 the Administration announced it was designating three Ortega regime officials under Global Magnitsky including Lopez and Diaz.
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2206 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
I am proud to represent Florida’s 27th Congressional District, a diverse area which includes Coral Gables, Cutler Bay, Hialeah, Key Biscayne, Little Havana, Miami, Pinecrest, South Miami, and Westchester.
I was born in Havana, Cuba on July 1952. At the age of eight, my family and I were forced to flee from the oppressive communist regime of Fidel Castro. We settled in Miami and put down permanent roots in our community. I attended Southside Elementary School in Little Havana, West Miami Junior High, and Southwest High School. In the years following, I earned an Associate of Arts degree from Miami-Dade Community College in 1972, Bachelors and Masters Degree in Education from Florida International University in 1975 and 1985 respectively, and a Doctorate in Education from the University of Miami in 2004. I consider education a lifelong journey.
I began my career as a Florida certified teacher. I also founded and served as the principal and teacher of a private bilingual elementary school in Hialeah. I was inspired to enter public service by many of the parents and students; to fight on their behalf for a stronger educational system, lower taxes, and a brighter economic future.
In 1982 I was elected to the Florida State House of Representatives and the Florida Senate in 1986, becoming the first Hispanic woman to serve in either body. In the state legislature I authored the Florida Prepaid College Plan, which is now the largest pre paid college tuition program in the nation. More than one million Florida families have used this program to send their children to college.
I was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1989– the first Hispanic woman to serve in Congress–following a special election to fill the seat held by the late Claude Pepper. I have been strongly returned to Congress since, winning 60% of the vote in 2012.
To this day, I remain committed to improving the lives of my constituents and our beautiful South Florida community. As the economy remains a pressing issue, I support reducing taxes and cutting back unnecessary government spending. I also support plans to balance the federal budget and increase tax incentives for small businesses and middle class families. South Florida has also felt the devastating effects of the housing crisis. I have fought to end predatory lending practices by mortgage companies and extend the first time homebuyers tax credit.
Given my background in education, I have worked to strengthen the Head Start program. I have also supported legislation to increase the availability to student financial aid and revise the cumbersome and complicated Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) process.
I am a strong advocate of programs that address the serious problem of domestic violence against women. I was a lead sponsor of the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which increases resources towards the prosecution of domestic violence, dating violence, and sexual assault. I also support legislation to increase criminal penalties for perpetrators of Medicare fraud. Medicare fraud is a deplorable practice which robs hardworking seniors of the benefits they spent a lifetime earning, while also wasting billions in taxpayer dollars.
As the wife of a Vietnam veteran and step-mother to Marine aviators, I am passionate about improving our nation’s military, safeguarding veteran’s health care, and ensuring that returning veterans have access to a college education. I have been an outspoken critic of the Miami VA’s recent failures to notify veterans who were at risk of infection, due to contaminated colonoscopy equipment. I also authored legislation awarding the Congressional Gold Medal to the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). These women pioneers had been denied recognition for their service during World War II.
I am Chairman emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and am now Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa. In this role, I continue to voice my strong support for the state of Israel and human rights, including my opposition to Castro’s dictatorial regime in Cuba. I have also led on pressing foreign policy issues including the fight against Islamist extremism, and support of free trade agreements with Colombia, Panama, and South Korea.
I also serve as a member of the House Committee on Rules. This Committee decides what legislation makes it to the House floor and its members are chosen by the Speaker of the House. My priorities as a member of this Committee is to get our nation’s economy back on track and ensure passage of legislation that betters the state of our nation.
I am the proud wife to Dexter Lehtinen, mother and step-mother to 4 adult children, and grandmother to two beautiful baby girls – Morgan Elizabeth and Caroline Grace.
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