Inspiring Latinas: The Sanchez Sisters, First Siblings in Congress

What do you think about the media reports that Latinos may not support Barack Obama because of his race?

Linda: I never believed in that myth, when people started to float that out there. Number one, it’s a ploy to try to divide communities. And number two the press is looking for things that are controversial or that are inflammatory that will peek peoples interest to watch more of their news or buy their newspapers. Obama is making this big investment in Hispanic out reach and it’s unprecedented and I think he’s going to be very successful.

Loretta:I think Latino's were more favorable towards Hillary because they have a history with the Clinton's. We have a history with Bill Clinton, who did some incredible things while in office—home ownership, high school dropout rates for Hispanics, Head Start. These are all legacies of the Clinton's and our communities know them. That’s why you saw so many of the Hispanic leadership go with Hillary Clinton because we know them, in the same way our community knows them. That’s why Latinos were so much more favorable towards Hillary.

What in your opinion are the most pertinent issues affecting the Latino community in the election year?

Linda: I think definitely the state of the economy and health care. I can't tell you how many families I talk to are concerned because their rent is going up, gas prices are so high, college education is getting more expensive every year. The high cost of health care particularly for families with young children and the elderly, even if they have health insurance certain things aren’t covered by it. Those are probably two of the issues I’m concerned about and I think that will definitely be on minds come November.

Loretta:The economy is incredibly important to Latinos, it’s always about what kind of job we have, and the opportunity—do we have an opportunity for a good education for our child so they might have a better life than us? The same thing that my parents thought. They came here as immigrants, worked themselves through the system in the sense of jobs, but they sacrificed and put all their force into their children so their children could have a better life than they have and that’s really the American dream. And that’s what immigrants and Latinos come to this country for. They want a better life for their children, and they’re willing to sacrifice for it. They need to have jobs, health care, and a decent place to live and so they can care about the future for their children.

What do you hope other Latina women will be able to take from your experiences as the first pair of sisters to serve in congress?

Linda: Well I’m hoping that they will look at the background Loretta and I came from, and they will understand that despite starting out with very few advantages, you can still get into politics and be successful and serve the public interest. You just have to work hard enough and be smart enough in terms of trying to avoid some of the obstacles that some people may put in your path. I want young Latinos to know that there is no conventional wisdom on politics anymore, the rules have changed so much and so much progress has been made that its not impossible to get where we are. We’re examples of that and hopefully that gives people a little bit of inspiration to people who may be initially discouraged.

Loretta:I think that Latinas are the future of this country. We have a value system that is important for this country. We work very hard. We need more knowledge, so I hope that we continue to educate ourselves. I hope that we push ourselves, and follow our dreams because that will be great for America.