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Inauguration Of A Latino Voting Bloc

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Aired 1/18/13

Latino elected officials and community leaders are celebrating, and growing expectations of Obama are mounting. Will he make good on his pledge to push for comprehensive immigration reform?

Credit: via Latino Inaugural 2013 Facebook

— The Presidential Inauguration is Monday, and Washington D.C. is ready for the massive celebration. Also celebrating will be many of the Latino celebrities, public officials and community leaders who worked on the Obama campaign, and who now hope to be rewarded with comprehensive immigration reform.

President Barack Obama is preparing to once again take the Presidential Oath of Office. And at inaugurations there are also parties, lots of parties, that are called Balls.

There’s a Ball pretty much for every state in the union. There’s a Green Inaugural Ball, an American Indian Inaugural, one for the African American Churches ... you get it.

And there is going to be a Latino Inaugural Ball. It’s more like a star-studded extravaganza concert at the Kennedy Center, hosted by actress Eva Longoria.

Mark Anthony is performing, Jose Feliciano will jam, and Rita Moreno will entertain.

"There aren’t words exciting enough or good enough to describe how I feel about it. I’m jumping up and down like a child," Moreno said.

The folks going to the Latino Inaugural Ball are in for a historic spectacle: Moreno will for the first time share the stage with another Latina star of Broadway, Chita Rivera. Both won accolades for their portrayal of Anita in West Side Story.

And the audience will be a "who’s who" of Latinos in politics.

Moreno said they will have a night to remember.

"The people who are going to be in that show are so extraordinary," she said.

Too bad Chris Garcia won’t be there. He couldn’t get a ticket. Still, he’s excited.

"It’s history," he said. Garcia is traveling from San Antonio to Washington D.C. to witness the swearing in.

"There’s only going to be one first black president, and there’s only going to be one first black president to get re-elected," he said.

Garcia was an Obama campaign volunteer in South Texas. His wife surprised him with D.C. plane tickets as a Christmas present. He quickly started asking around for tickets to the inauguration. He did get those tickets. And he’ll be watching both swearing-in ceremonies closely.

"Sonya Sotomayor will be giving Vice President Biden, she’ll be performing the oath with him, and that will be the first time that a Latina judge does that," Garcia said.

Garcia said he will be listening very carefully to Obama’s second inaugural address, keeping an ear cocked for the words “immigration reform.”

"With the Latino turnout and how important it was, they have to address immigration," Garcia said.

Henry Muñoz raised money for the Obama campaign and has a front-row seat to the Kennedy Center Latino Ball -- he organized it.

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"I’m going to take the president at his word, that in 2013 his priority is to pass immigration reform," Muñoz said.

Muñoz said there are multiple reasons for the celebration -- not just Barack Obama’s re-election, but also the critical role that Latinos had in that election victory.

"It certainly was a historic election. For the first time in the history of presidential politics, Latinos contributed more than 10 percent of the vote and I think it’s an important moment to reflect on that moment but also to think about what comes next," he said.

And Munoz is certain that means immigration reform.

He said all that Latino political muscle gathered in D.C. will be more than a party -- they are holding a symposium to look at how to continue to build Latino participation in elections and then turn that participation into power.

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