WASHINGTON – The 113th U.S. Congress was established Thursday with the largest number of Hispanic lawmakers in history, a total of 31.
All but three of the Hispanic members are in the House of Representatives and 23 of those 28 lawmakers are Democrats, who also make up the majority in the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
In the Senate, incumbents Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) are joined by Ted Cruz, a Republican from Texas.
Other Latino newcomers to Congress include Democratic Reps. Gloria Negrete of California and Joaquin Castro of Texas.
“I would be very surprised if the Congress doesn’t act on immigration reform in this year 2013,” Congressman Castro – twin brother of San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro – told CNN on Thursday after being asked about the main challenges that the legislature must face in the new session.
“Now that at least part of the fiscal cliff has been averted ... immigration reform really should be a top priority,” Rep. Castro said, adding that he was “very pleased to see” President Barack Obama make immigration reform a priority.
The immigration issue, however, will create debate among the Hispanic members of Congress with differing opinions from that of Castro such as Ted Cruz, a Cuban American linked to the Tea Party who opposes measures to legalize undocumented students brought to the United States as children.
The calculations on the number of Hispanic legislators for the 2013-2014 session were made by the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, and it does not include the three lawmakers who speak Portuguese or the two Latino observing members of Congress, the representatives from Puerto Rico and the Mariana Islands. EFE