Guest Column: Why Rick Perry is Good for Hispanics

Whether you live where I do, in deep South Texas, or across our big and growing country, this is a time of historic significance. Hispanics will take the measure of a man not by what he says but what he does. Our community, like many, is suffering because Barack Obama continues to do the wrong things to end the jobs crisis.

Rick Perry’s record is not the empty rhetoric of hope. Rick Perry’s record gives us hope.

A week ago I asked the governor to comment on the opening of a customer service center and 400 jobs that his office helped locate to my hometown of Edinburg. Without a second thought, he talked about how important having a good job was to a family. He talked about how having the means to provide for your family was the basic building block of our society. He talked about families that have good jobs stay together. It seems simple, but it’s a message that resonates loud and clear.

Perry will be a great president because he shares our values — values rooted in deep family traditions — and principles like hard work and fair play that are rewards in and of themselves. He is a strong and decisive leader who wants to restore respect to each and every American by helping put them to work. Hispanics share the same hopes and dreams that other Americans do. It’s about jobs and creating a bright future for our children. 

Communities along the border thrive because of our relationship with Mexico. Brownsville, McAllen, Laredo and El Paso are engines that drive the Texas economy. The governor understands that our ties to Mexico run deeper than trade and commerce. We are bound by family, culture and social traditions that have evolved over centuries of mutual respect and cooperation. A safe and prosperous Mexico is a safe and prosperous Texas. Over that last few years our friends in northern Mexico have endured the most horrific violence. Cartels have murdered, terrorized and run rampant across the region. At the height of the violence the governor led the call to Obama to authorize the deployment of the National Guard to the border. Security must not tilt the balance against commerce and trade. The governor has been sensitive to this issue and has championed the commitment of state and local law enforcement resources to that goal.

The respect that Perry has shown the Hispanic community extends to the record number of appointments he has had the opportunity to make. He has appointed the first Hispanic woman to the Supreme Court: Eva Guzman. Hope Andrade was the first Hispanic woman to be appointed secretary of state. Buddy Garcia leads the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Raymund Paredes is the commissioner of higher education. These men and women reflect the changing face of Texas and our governor’s commitment to the Hispanic community.  

Democracy is a wonderful thing. My community will join Americans all across this great nation and make a choice about who will lead us out of these troubled times. Rick Perry is that leader. He understands that opportunity and jobs give people hope and optimism. But don’t take my word for it. Like you, I will measure the man by his record. 

Perry’s Texas has created more than 40 percent of America’s net new jobs in the last two years. That’s a remarkable and humbling statistic: 40 percent of new jobs created by us, here, in our Lone Star State.

Hispanic-owned businesses have been experiencing explosive growth, their numbers expanding by 40 percent during the previous decade and, according to one study, generating $62 billion in revenue in 2007. The same study indicated Hispanic-owned businesses employed almost 400,000 Texans that year.

Why the growth and opportunity here in Texas? One reason may be that between 2000 and 2010, Hispanic enrollment in Texas universities increased 88 percent compared to a 48 percent increase overall. Over that same time frame, the number of bachelor's degrees, associate degrees and certificates earned by Hispanic students increased more than 102 percent.

If you are a Hispanic living in Texas, you are nine times more likely to be employed. You are two-and-a half times more likely to own your own small business. And you are 15 percent more likely to have obtained a bachelor’s degree than your peers around the country.

Obama’s record is burdened by a Washington that refuses to control federal spending and record debt. In 2006 the unemployment rate for Hispanics was 4.9 percent. In 2011 that rate has jumped to 11.3 percent. Two of every five dollars we spend is borrowed from creditors. Home values are almost one-third lower than they were five years ago. 

Obama had his chance to lead. Like President Clinton, he could have put real compromise ahead of political posturing. Instead, he’s turned decidedly in the other direction.

There will be a lot said about Perry. People — mainly partisans with an agenda — will misstate the facts. They’ll make promises about government programs, government money and government control of all aspects of our lives. That’s not our way, and that’s not the way toward a bright future.    

We have an historic opportunity to demonstrate our independence and push back against the tired politics of the past by electing Rick Perry president of the United States of America. 

State Rep. Aaron Peña, R-Edinburg, has represented District 40 in the Texas House since 2002.

Texas Tribune donors or members may be quoted or mentioned in our stories, or may be the subject of them. For a complete list of contributors, click here.