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Nation's First Latina U.S. Senator Sworn In

Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina to be sworn in as a member of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. (C. Cortez Masto)
Nevada Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto became the first Latina to be sworn in as a member of the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. (C. Cortez Masto)
January 4, 2017

CARSON CITY, Nev. – The country's first Latina U.S. Senator, Catherine Cortez Masto, was sworn into office on Tuesday representing the Silver State, a point of pride for Hispanic leaders in Nevada.

The Democrat is the first female Hispanic senator ever, and one of only four Hispanics in the U.S. Senate, including Republicans Bob Menendez of New Jersey, Marco Rubio of Florida and Ted Cruz of Texas.

Peter Guzman, president of the Latin Chamber of Commerce of Nevada, said although his group may not agree with Cortez Masto on every issue, her swearing-in is an important "first."

"It's a historical moment, because it most definitely gives young, female Hispanics a lot of hope, to be able to see somebody who looks like them, who speaks their language, see them achieve such a milestone," he explained. "That, to me, is the most powerful thing."

Hispanics make up 17 percent of the U.S. population but only four percent of the Senate. This week, seven Latinos were sworn into the U.S. House of Representatives, bringing the total there to 38 out of 435 House members.

Fernando Romero, president of Hispanics in Politics, the oldest Hispanic political organization in the state, said he hopes Cortez Masto will fight for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

"For Latinos, the push for comprehensive immigration reform will be a milestone," he said. "Everything else, as far as bringing money for roads and infrastructure within the state of Nevada, obviously is good for everybody, not only Latinos."

Cortez Masto has been in public service in Nevada for more than 25 years, serving most recently two terms as state Attorney General. She is also the daughter of the first and only Hispanic county commissioner in Clark County, Manuel Cortez.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - NV