Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy was in East Orlando on Monday to discuss the issues facing Puerto Ricans both on the island and here in Central Florida. Murphy participated in a town hall discussion with local leaders and reiterated her support for statehood for the U.S territory.
Murphy was on a panel that also included State Senator Victor Torres and Orange County School Board member Joie Cadle. The bipartisan discussion was moderated by Anthony Suarez, who is the President of the Puerto Rican Bar association.
The Congresswoman acknowledged the Puerto Rican community’s contributions to the nation and pledged to fight for the issues important to their growing population.
“Simply put, you’re a powerful and vibrant community, you deserve recognition and respect. And you deserve to have the issues you care about taken seriously by your elected leaders and I intend to do precisely that.” said Murphy “Floridians will always welcome Puerto Ricans to Central Florida because you contribute so much to our communities and economy.”
Murphy’s remarks continued as she laid out the importance of increasing the quality of life for Puerto Ricans not only in her district but also on the island, she concluded by announcing that she would be introducing legislation that would direct more resources to Puerto Rican students learning a English as a second language.
While the Congresswoman’s remarks were aimed at bipartisanship, Torres’ words were critical. The Democratic State Senator pulled no punches when discussing Governor Rick Scott and the GOP’s handling of the budget which effected Puerto Ricans in the area.
“Why is it that Republicans have a problem with what we are?” asked Torres, pointing his family’s multi-generation military service “We fight and defend this country everyday.”
Cadle provided a rundown of the challenges facing Puerto Rican students in Orange County and asked both Murphy and Torres to work towards improving current conditions in their respective levels of government.
Other local lawmakers on hand included State Representative John Cortes, Kissimmee Mayor Jose Alvarez, Orange County Commissioner Emily Bonilla, and Orange County Soil and Water Supervisor Daisy Morales.
While much of the material was well received by the friendly group, there were some in attendance who would have wanted to hear more about the push for statehood.
“To just to come out and do press conferences and give statements is not enough. We want to see action.” said Businessman and Hispanic Community Leader Peter Vivaldi “We want to see Congress vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. That’s all we’re asking for.”