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Statement on Signing the Bill Establishing the Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish-Speaking People.

December 31, 1969

IN THE 1970 census we will learn, for the first time, exactly what portion of the American public is made up of Spanish speaking and Spanish-surname Americans. It is estimated that between 8 and 10 million of our people draw upon a Mexican, Puerto Rican, or Cuban heritage.

Many members of this significant minority group have been too long denied genuine, equal opportunity. For example, many have been denied the dignity that comes from useful job training, good jobs, and a real share in American business enterprise.

The bill before me transforms the Inter-Agency Committee on Mexican American Affairs into a statutory Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish-Speaking People, and authorizes funding for this important activity. This was made necessary when legislation passed in 1968 prohibited financing of interagency committees through contributions from member agencies.

In signing this bill, I reaffirm the concern of this Government for providing equal opportunity to all Spanish-speaking Americans--to open doors to better jobs and the ownership and management of business.

The Cabinet Committee will foster a new awareness within Government of the specific needs of this significant group and will insure that existing and future Government programs in fact reach Spanish-speaking people.

It will, for example, immediately address itself to enlisting support of the private sector in a national housing corporation to provide technical assistance to Spanish-speaking people preparing proposals to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. It will also work closely with the Department of Commerce's Office of Minority Business Enterprise in assisting Spanish-speaking people to launch their own businesses and generate new job opportunities. It will point up the need for a bilingual dimension in education.

This Committee will depend for its success upon four elements: the dedication of its membership, the support of government, the receptivity of private enterprise, and the proven drive and talent of the Spanish-speaking peoples.

Working together, we can swing wide the door to dignity and self-help to millions of our fellow citizens. This administration is determined to speed the day when every member of this group has his fair share of opportunity, and the American system fully benefits from the resourcefulness and traditions of the Spanish-speaking heritage. Those traditions include an admirable respect for law, strong family and religious ties, and a proud individualism.

Accordingly, I sign this bill con gusto-with the enthusiasm and determination to make equal opportunity a reality in these United States.

Note: As enacted, the bill (S. 740), approved December 30, 1969, is Public Law 91-181 (83 Stat. 838).

The statement was released at San Clemente, Calif.

Richard Nixon, Statement on Signing the Bill Establishing the Cabinet Committee on Opportunities for Spanish-Speaking People. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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