First-ever Latino Town Hall in Orlando, Florida
Congressman Darren Soto hosted a Latino Town Hall on August 24, 2017, to discuss pressing issues affecting the Hispanic community of Central Florida.
Speaking at the Ana G Mendez University, in a room filled to capacity, Rep. Soto addressed constituents on various issues impacting District 09. Organizations co-sponsoring the Town Hall, included: Mi Familia Vota, Hispanic Federation, HOPE Community Center, Iniciativa Acción Puertorriqueña, Latino Justice, Law Offices of Ingrid Morfa, NALEO Educational Fund, Young American Dreamers, and Venezuela 20-20.
As a member of the Natural Resources Committee, specifically sitting on the Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs, Rep. Soto is specially focused on expanding agricultural opportunities for our communities, and reassured he was in favor of bills that would assist farmers. But with the ever-changing technology it is necessary to adapt.
Addressing a number of questions from the audience regarding environmental preservation, Rep. Soto assured he is committed to supporting restoration and environmental protection legislation. "Hispanics in Florida were the majority in voting to protect sensitive lands in our State. It is encouraging seeing this support from our constituents." It is a matter of math: we depend on our natural resources and scenic coasts in Florida for our thriving tourism industry. Rep. Soto will also urge for full funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and called on all attendees to get involved, call, write, and continue to advocate for our environment.
President Trump's proposed budget cuts Medicaid by $700 billion over next ten years, and the failed "Trump Care" would have cut between $100-200 million to Medicare. Representative Soto strongly opposed any health care reform that would ultimately hurt the community and believes we need a bipartisan solution to the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Soto also reiterated his support for middle-class families across the United States, by working to strengthen the Social Security program. "Don't doubt it," people with disabilities and children would be greatly affected by any reduction of social security benefits.
Rep. Soto mentioned he has co-sponsored numerous bills to help extend and support the DACA program. Yet, there is a high chance that President Trump will be eliminating the program in September. Rep. Soto made a call to the Hispanic community present to join in the fight to defend DACA. "I believe that if we did defend the lawsuit, that we would win!" Stated Rep. Soto.
Congressman Soto's offices have assisted in preventing deportations in numerous ways, including a letter opposing the call for local law enforcement to join in with ICE. Rep. Soto was proud to vote against funding a Border Wall and vote against penalizing sanctuary cities, and reiterated his support for a comprehensive immigration reform. During the Town Hall, a member of the audience
"We must empower our brothers and sisters on the island, through businesses, education, and putting money back into people's pockets," stated Rep. Soto. Puerto Rican lawyer Luis Pastrana asked about the future of the island, to which Rep. Soto responded that there is not a perfect solution to fix the economic problems in Puerto Rico, but he is sure that the right path is working towards reducing the massive debt and support small-businesses and agriculture on the island. "Slowly but surely the economic situation in Puerto Rico is getting better and we are working with small business owners and farmers, subsidizes for working families with children, etc." I'm excited for young people going back to Puerto Rico and "Agriculture has historically been a big part of the Puerto Rican economy, is working to push the PROMESA board and reduce the debt currently grappling the island.
"We stand with the people of Venezuela," stated Rep. Soto "we know there is a tyrant government in charge. And we're going to fight for Venezuela's liberty." Rep. Soto highlighted the bill he co-introduced, the bipartisan Venezuelan Refugee Assistance Act, that would grant temporary protected status for all Venezuelans that have long resided in the U.S., but we need all Members of Congress to support this bill, specially the Florida delegation. Re. Soto is also against the National Assembly created by President Maduro, he stated it is unconstitutional and should be disbanded. "We need to make sure there are elections on time, particularly for the governor's race this year and the presidential one next year. We are working with our allies in the U.N. to make sure these elections take place."
For Spanish coverage of this event, please see La Prensa's article published on August 29, 2017.