12:52 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: We love you in Puerto Rico!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. You should, you should. (Laughter.) Thank you very much. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.
And it’s great to be with you and Secretary Acosta, Treasurer Carranza, and to every Hispanic American serving in the White House and all across our administration. Thank you very much. (Applause.) It’s a great privilege for the First Lady, Melania, and I to be with you all today. Thank you very much. (Applause.)
We want to welcome our ambassadors, members of Congress, local officials, and Hispanic community and faith leaders, and guests from across the White House. You are really special people. You’ve worked so hard with us. Today’s performers, Julissa. How was she? Was she good? Huh?
THE PRESIDENT: I heard she was fantastic. And “Yes” Movement Orchestra, and the work that they’ve done and the incredible job that they’ve done. Thank you very much.
We’re honored to have you all here to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Right? (Applause.) Please, First Lady. Please, come up. Come up. (Applause.) And, by the way, we just got back from Puerto Rico together, and it was really quite a sight. We’re doing a great job there, and they are great, great people. They are great people. They’ve been through a lot.
PARTICIPANT: So are you!
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. (Applause.)
As we gather for this celebration, our hearts remain heavy and sad for the victims of the horrible mass murder in Las Vegas. On Wednesday, in Nevada, I visited with brave survivors still recovering in the hospital, and with heroic police officers, first responders, and everyday Americans who acted with speed and courage to save countless lives. No evil on this Earth is more powerful than the love and courage of the American people.
All of America is praying for the wounded and the grieving, and we will be with them today and we will be with them forever. (Applause.) And I spent a lot of time going through the hospital with Melania and seeing some incredible people who were so seriously wounded. We will never leave their side.
We’re also praying for the people of Puerto Rico. We love Puerto Rico. (Applause.) Puerto Rico.
PARTICIPANT: We love you!
THE PRESIDENT: And we also love Puerto Rico. (Applause.) And we’re marshaling every federal resource at our disposal.
Earlier this week, I traveled to Puerto Rico to oversee federal response to the two devastating hurricanes. Remember, it was two. It was one, and then it was another. And that second one was brutal. And they struck that great and beautiful island. And we now have more than 15,000 federal personnel on the island — 15,000. We will not rest until that job is done.
Puerto Rico has a long road of recovery ahead — very long road. But we know that its people are proud and they are resilient, and they will come back strong. (Applause.) And I’ve spent a lot of time with Governor Rosselló — who is a terrific man, a terrific person — on Tuesday. And we will be there all the time to help Puerto Rico recover, restore, rebuild. We’re working together very closely with your great governor and your congresswoman, who is terrific — Jessica [Jenniffer]. Terrific. (Applause.)
We stand with them and with all of those who have suffered through natural disasters over these past several weeks, including those in Texas and Florida. And Louisiana got hit, and got hit very hard. And the state of Alabama was incredible. They helped so many people coming up from Florida. And Georgia, likewise — so many incredible people. And also, we have to remember this: the Virgin Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Governor Mapp, who’s become like a friend of mine — I spoke to him so much on the phone. The job he’s done — they were hit so hard. And not much was left. But they’re rebuilding, and the spirit is incredible. U.S. Virgin Islands.
We’re also keeping in our hearts and prayers all of those affected by the disastrous earthquake in Mexico. In recent weeks, through extremely difficult times, we’ve seen Americans coming together from all races and all backgrounds to unite as one people, under God. And I will tell you, we sent crews to Mexico, and the President was very gracious; called me yesterday and thanked me.
We have some really talented people. They went there to help to solve that unbelievable, difficult problem that they have. That earthquake was devastating, and I appreciate the President of Mexico. And they were so kind in their response, but that was a tragic event. And our people did a fantastic job. So I want to thank all of our first responders and the people. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) And you have a wonderful President in Mexico, I can tell you.
America is unified, there is no challenge we cannot overcome. When we empower the hopes of our people, especially these young, fantastic people right in front of me who performed so brilliantly — when we embrace the dignity and beauty of human life, and then you just look out, there is no task too large and no dream beyond your reach. No dream. There’s no dream beyond your reach. You know that, right? I’m talking to some very young people up front that you can’t see. (Applause.)
No matter who we are, or where we come from, we are all Americans, and we are all bound together by our love for this country, and for its flag, and for each other. Great love. Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you very much.
In that same spirit of unity, togetherness, and love, we are truly thrilled to have all of you right here at the White House. The White House, what a special place. Right? You’ve read about the White House, you’ve heard — who was at the White House before? You have some of the congressmen that were. Right? Right? Not too many. It’s a very special place. But this is a celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Right? (Applause.) That’s a big deal. That’s a great thing.
From our earliest days, Hispanic Americans have enriched our country and helped shape our history. Their contributions, through the generations, to art and music and literature, to science, scholarship, and exploration, are extraordinary.
The spirit and creativity that shines through Hispanic heritage is woven into the very fabric of our great nation. Our amazing Hispanic American communities embody our great American values of faith, and family, and security, and hard work, and freedom. (Applause.)
Their commitment to those values is why countless citizens of Hispanic descent have served in uniform to defend our country, our citizens, and our flag. Sixty Hispanic Americans have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their outstanding bravery in battle. Did you know that? Sixty. That’s a lot. That’s a lot. (Applause.) It’s our great, great Medal of Honor.
Did you say we have — oh, wow. That’s so fantastic. Do you mind if I go up and shake hands? I’ll interrupt our speech. I want to shake hands with somebody. (Applause.) I heard you were here. I’m glad I got to meet you. I heard you were here. The Medal of Honor. That’s the big deal. Right? That’s the big deal. Thank you for being here. We appreciate it. (Applause.) Thank you.
Today, we’re grateful to have more than a quarter of a million Hispanic Americans serving in our military. We salute all of those who defend our nation and who defend our way of life.
of you here today represents a vital part of the fabric of this nation, and the nation that I love and that you love. You teach our children, you lead our churches, you protect our communities, and you defend our nation. Among you are leaders in government, faith, and business. Fantastic people in this audience. I know some of them, and believe me, they’re very tough and they’re very smart. Sometimes they’re too tough, but that’s okay. I have to deal with it. I have to deal with it. Fantastic people.
In fact, today, Hispanic American-owned small businesses are growing at a tremendous rate, especially among our Latinas. (Applause.) Raise your hands. Go ahead. It’s tough to compete with, I will tell you — (laughter) — who are leading the way and starting new businesses. You’re leading the way. You’re leading the way. You guys better get going. (Laughter.) And once we pass our historic tax reform plan — and we are having not only reform, we’re having the largest tax cuts in the history of our country. The history of our country. (Applause.) Does anybody in this room mind getting a massive tax cut?
THE PRESIDENT: Does anybody object to paying less taxes?
THE PRESIDENT: I don’t see any hands. Okay. (Laughter.) But Hispanic American businesses and families will prosper like never before. This tax cut and tax reform is going very well, and it’s going to be a tremendous boost for our country, including the fact that we’re the highest-taxed nation in the world. And we will go from that to being down on the lower wrung of taxes. So we’ll be paying far, far less. So that’s very important for keeping our businesses and our jobs. (Applause.)
We’re working every day to secure a future of peace, prosperity, and sovereignty for every American citizen. And we hope for a future of freedom and prosperity throughout the entire Western Hemisphere.
That’s why, under my administration, we have taken decisive action to stand with the good people of Cuba and Venezuela. (Applause.) Great people. Great, great people. As I announced before a wonderful crowd in Little Havana earlier this year, we will not lift sanctions on the Cuban regime until it delivers full political freedom for the Cuban people. (Applause.)
same failed communist ideology that has brought oppression to Cuba has brought nothing but suffering and misery everywhere and every place it has been anywhere in the world. Communism is the past. Freedom is the future. (Applause.)
We also stand with the people of Venezuela, who are suffering under the ruthless socialism of the Maduro regime. We reject socialist oppression, and we call for the restoration of democracy and freedom for the citizens of Venezuela. (Applause.)
Many Hispanic Americans understand very personally why it is so important for us to defend our nation God-given freedom — we want God-given; it’s God-given freedom — and uphold the rule of law. Our commitment to these values has been the source of America’s prosperity, the foundation of our security. And these values has made us a beacon, an absolute beacon, to the nations of the world.
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we’re grateful for all of you who have contributed to our communities and for your continued leadership in America.
With your help, we will strengthen our country’s great foundations of faith, and family, and freedom, and we will build together one great American future.
It’s a tremendous honor to have you all at the White House. I want to thank you. I want to God bless you. God bless the United States of America. (Applause.) God bless the United States of America.
And with that, I’d like to welcome a very special person who is doing a tremendous job as our Secretary of Labor, Secretary Acosta. Alex, keep it up. Keep it up, Alex. Thank you. (Applause.)
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