Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, using the Spanish he learned on missionary trips overseas, implored his fellow Senators Tuesday to pass an immigration reform bill, speaking in Spanish — a first on the U.S. Senate floor — about a young woman from Virginia.
“I think it is appropriate that I spend a few minutes explaining the bill in Spanish, a language that has been spoken in this country since Spanish missionaries founded St. Augustine, Fla., in 1565,” said Kaine. “Spanish is also spoken by almost 40 million Americans who have a lot at stake in the outcome of this debate.”
In Northern Virginia, the stakes are high for many residents. Along the Richmond Highway corridor, about one-third of the residents in the Hybla Valley area are Hispanic, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics. Hispanics make up at least 15 percent of Fairfax County's population.
Kaine's speech in Spanish hasn't gone unnoticed. It was a big topic on the Today Show Wednesday morning. "Perfect accent, muy bueno," said anchor Natalie Morales, who grew up speaking Spanish overseas and whose father is from Puerto Rico.
Conservatives weren't sure what to think. The Drudge Report linked to stories in The Washington Times and The Daily Caller: "Dem breaks into Spanish on Senate floor...to endorse amnesty legislation! Flummoxes Stenographers"
Kaine's speech was about a young woman from Virginia. “This debate is about Isabel Castillo,” Kaine said. “This young woman from Harrisonburg, Virginia was brought to the United States by her parents at the very young age of 6. Her parents performed hard labor in order to support their family by picking apples and working in a poultry plant.
"All they wanted, like all parents do, was a better life for their children," Kaine said. Isabel did everything right – she graduated from High School and went on to attend college, where she graduated magna cum laude. She did not qualify for financial aid, due to her immigration status, and worked for a year to save money for college. After she graduated from college she was unable to legally find a job. Instead of giving up, this young woman organized the Harrisonburg Dream Act chapter to raise awareness about her situation in order to help other students. This is one example of many as to why we need to pass an immigration bill. For students and families, such as Isabel’s, this is about their future.”
What do you think about Sen. Kaine's speech? Tell us in the comments.