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Reyes begins role as Hispanic caucus leader

Jose A. Delgado

Efe - January 04, 2001

Washington, Jan 3 (EFE).- Rep. Silvestre Reyes (Dem.-TX) on Wednesday officially became the new president of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), made up of 18 Democratic legislators.

The new Hispanic leader is a Vietnam War veteran and was the head of the Immigration and Naturalization Service's (INS) El Paso Border Patrol.

After he stepped down from his position with the INS, Reyes began his political career becoming the first Hispanic to represent El Paso in U.S. Congress.

In the House of Representatives, Congressman Reyes is a member of both the Armed Forces and Veteran's Affairs committees.

"The Congressional Hispanic Caucus should be completely committed to promoting U.S. and Latin American relations," Reyes said, who was sworn in for his third congressional term during an official ceremony in one of the legislative office buildings in Washington D.C.

Reyes said that some of his goals include providing the necessary resources to help Hispanics improve their academic levels and complete university studies.

He also emphasized the need to improve Hispanics' access to health programs, work to protect civil rights for the Hispanic community and the use of a statistical sample to increase the number of people included in the federal census.

"The CHC also has to closely supervise the electoral redistribution and its impact in the Latino community," Reyes said.

On the same note, he emphasized the need to reform immigration laws including the continuance of Section 245(i), which allows those immigrants waiting for their U.S. residency to remain in this country until the U.S. government decides their cases.

The Hispanic Caucus is also in favor of extending the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA) to citizens of other countries in response to the massive immigration of Central Americans to the United States due to civil wars in those countries. Presently, NACARA benefits only Nicaraguan and Cuban immigrants.

Reyes also supports amnesty to hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants - mainly Hispanics - who arrived in the United States prior to 1986.