Formation of the CHC
“The fact that we have joined together is a sign of the growing power of our community, and we are looking forward to strengthening the Federal commitment to Hispanic citizens.”
– Caucus Statement, 1976
Founded in 1976, the CHC was organized by five Hispanic Members of Congress:
- Herman Badillo (NY)
- Baltasar Corrada del Río (PR)
- Eligio “Kika” de la Garza II (TX)
- Henry B. González (TX)
- Edward R. Roybal (CA)
These Members envisioned an organization that would allow the Hispanic community to effectively engage with legislative, judicial, and executive actions to ensure that the priorities of Latinos were not ignored. The founders of the CHC stated that the CHC’s goal would be “to develop programs…to increase opportunities for Hispanics to participate in and contribute to the American political system” and to “reverse the national pattern of neglect, exclusion and indifference suffered for decades by Spanish-speaking citizens of the United States”.
The CHC’s Evolution Over the Years
After its initial creation, the CHC rallied its members and resources to push the Carter administration in 1978 to increase the number of Hispanics in leadership positions within the federal government. Additionally, the Caucus helped preserve bilingual education programs, improve voting rights, and secure favorable committee positions for its members.
CHC members meet with President Carter in 1978.
During the Reagan administration, the CHC rose to prominence as a source of opposition to Reagan’s immigration policy and attitudes towards Central and South American countries like Nicaragua and El Salvador. This period saw enormous increases in the CHC’s influence as Chairs Robert Garcia and Bill Richardson mobilized to maximize their impact on the national agenda by taking full advantage of committee positions and media exposure.
President Reagan speaks to CHC members.
The CHC continued its work to promote Hispanic interests throughout the Clinton administration. Clinton would regularly consult the Caucus on legislation, and partner with them in countering Republican initiatives. With the addition of 3 new members during the 105th Congress and the rise of Robert Menendez and Ed Pastor in Democratic leadership, the Caucus grew stronger.
President Clinton at the 1998 CHC dinner
George W. Bush Administration
President Bush met with the Caucus to discuss issues relating to immigration, small businesses, education, welfare programs, and affirmative action. In 2007, the Bush administration and CHC members discussed changes to the immigration system, but those changes did not occur as a result of deadlock in the 109th and 110th Congresses.
In 2009 and 2013, President Obama met with the CHC to discuss important topics, including immigration. These meetings indicated that the Obama administration and the CHC shared the same set of principles and recognized the importance of immigration reform. On June 15, 2012, Obama announced DACA to serve as a stopgap measure to shield eligible immigrant youth from deportation. In 2016, the White House and CHC clashed because of a series of immigration raids ahead of the State of Union. CHC Members and more than 130 House Democrats urged the administration to suspend the raids.
President Obama meets the CHC in 2013
The Trump Administration
Chairwoman Michelle Lujan Grisham at an immigration summit with Trump and other congressional leaders in 2018.
Throughout the Trump Administration, the CHC fought tirelessly to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, advocate for permanent protections for Dreamers, and bring attention to human rights violations unfolding at the border. In September 2017, the Trump Administration ended DACA. In efforts to engage in dialogue around immigration, Chairwoman Rep. Michelle Lujan Grishham showed up uninvited to the immigration summit with Trump and other congressional leaders in January 2018. She was able to stay for the meeting. To shed light on the injustices occurring at the border and to push for migrants to be treated with dignity and respect, CHC members passed the Humanitarian Standards for Individuals in Customs and Border Protection Custody Act and the Homeland Security Improvement Act in the House. Additionally, the CHC called attention to family separation and the Zero Tolerance Policy and advocated to end the “Remain in Mexico” policy which forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their applications for U.S. protections were processed.