As Mexicans, we’ve known from a young age that Cinco de Mayo is one of the greatest heroic feats of its people. It’s a symbolic date that commemorates the historic victory of General Ignacio Zaragoza and his patriotic army against the invading French army in the central state of Puebla in 1862.
(To find this article in Spanish click here)
But over the past 158 years, the celebration of the Battle of Puebla has become not only a deeply binational celebration between Mexico and the United States, but essentially, it’s a celebration of Hispanic culture and heritage. It’s a recognition of the common roots that connect us in the entrails and of the unique contributions of Hispanics to the culture, economy and diversity of the US.
Just as presidents Benito Juárez and Abraham Lincoln faced existential challenges to the integrity and future of their nations at the time, our people and humanity now face a major challenge with the pandemic of COVID-19 which again exposes the best of us: our infinite will to fight adversity in any of its forms.
Now we’re recognizing the great anonymous heroes of this new battle, the ones who we find and honor wherever we turn: in hospitals, ambulances, agricultural fields and supermarkets. Everyone who is risking their own life, 24 hours a day, to save others’ lives.
This Cinco de Mayo, it is more significant than ever to focus our gaze on a group of unique Hispanics that are on the frontline of the battlefield. Despite living among the highest uncertainty about their life and future they show us a spirit of dedication and giving that deserves to be recognized and protected.
Of course, I’m referring to our DACA “dreamers” and to our TPS brothers. A total of 202,500 dreamers and 131,300 “tepesianos” belong to this army of essential workers who take the daily risk against our common enemy.
Of that total, around 29,000 dreamers and 11,000 “tepesianos” work specifically in the health sector as doctors, nurses and emergency workers, but thousands more are working tirelessly from their own trenches as teachers or as essential service workers.
As dreamer Karen Reyes, a dedicated teacher and daughter of an undocumented mother who has also been affected by the pandemic explains, “this is not only my story, it’s the story of my mother and the people like her.”
What better celebration of Cinco de Mayo and Mother’s Day, than to equip all the exceptional patriots of DACA and TPS who work in essential activities with the security and certainty they deserve by extending their stay and work permits. Or even better, by approving the Senate bill initiative that opens the door to a permanent solution. They have been and still are up to the level of our current circumstances, now it’s up to political leaders to do the same.
José López Zamorano