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Herman Badillo (born August 21, 1929 in Caguas, Puerto Rico) is a Bronx, New York politician who has been a borough president, United States Representative, and candidate for Mayor of New York City. He was the first Puerto Rican to be elected to these posts (and run for mayor) in the United States (outside of Puerto Rico).
When Badillo was 11 years old, both of his parents died of tuberculosis and he was sent to live with his aunt in New York City. After graduating from the public school system, Badillo attended and earned a Bachelor's degree from the City College of New York in 1951. In 1954, he received an LLB. from Brooklyn Law School graduating first in his class. The following year he was admitted to the New York State Bar. In 1956, he also became a certified public accountant.
U.S. House of Representatives
In 1970, Badillo was elected to the United States House of Representatives from New York's 21st District in the South Bronx, thus becoming the first Puerto Rican to so serve. He was also re-elected for three subsequent consecutive terms. He also gained a seat on the Committee on Education and Labor.
In 1976 he was challenged by South Bronx Councilman Ramon Velez in a bitter race for the Democratic Party nomination for Congressman of the 21st District. Badillo, however, was easily reelected with 75 percent of the vote. In December of that year, he was one of the five Latino members of Congress who established the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.
Through his efforts, job training for unemployed non-English speaking citizens were included in the "Comprehensive Manpower Act of 1973".
Badillo also served on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee, and the Small Business Committee where he had a seat on the Minority Enterprise and General Oversight Sub-committee. During his time in office he supported legislation intended to fight various forms of discrimination including age and marital status discrimination in employment.
Although he would later become a vociferous opponent of bilingual education, as a congressman Badillo was one of the first champions of funding for bilingual education programs.
Some proponents of bilingual and ESL education, and opponents of English immersion, have attacked Badillo for his newfound opposition to Spanish-language teaching.
He was also a critical player in the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act and the inclusion of its lanaguage access provisions.
During his tenure in the Congress, he became an important national voice for federal investment in urban centers.
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