[Congressional Record Volume 152, Number 64 (Monday, May 22, 2006)]
[House]
[Pages H2965-H2966]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                  THE LEGACY AND LIFE OF CARMEN ANAYA

  The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the order of the House of 
January 31, 2006, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Doggett) is recognized 
during morning hour debates for 5 minutes.
  Mr. DOGGETT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
  Carmen Anaya was a remarkable human being. Her life of 79 years both 
inspires and teaches us. Born in Monterrey, Mexico; a teacher, she 
moved to the United States as a young woman and married Jose Anaya.
  For the next 20 years as their family grew, they worked as migrant 
farm workers all across America--harvesting cherries in Michigan, 
tomatoes in California, potatoes in Oregon, and sugar beets in the 
Dakotas. Eventually they opened a small general store in Las Milpas in 
the Texas Rio Grande Valley.
  In Spanish, a ``milpa'' is a temporary field that is cultivated for a 
few seasons. But the colonia of Las Milpas was

[[Page H2966]]

the permanent home of thousands who lacked running water, had no paved 
roads and no jobs that offered a way to escape poverty. Even worse, 
most residents had little hope for a better future for themselves or 
for their children.
  In 1982, Mrs. Anaya joined with other people of faith to found Valley 
Interfaith, a nonprofit coalition of over 40 churches that, with the 
work of lead organizer Elizabeth Valdez, has now expanded to represent 
some 60,000 Valley families. Valley Interfaith leaders already knew how 
to cultivate fields, but together they learned how to cultivate hope 
and justice. For more than two decades, they have put their faith into 
action to help the impoverished help themselves and to hold elected 
officials accountable at all levels of government.
  With the very active and the very vocal participation of Mrs. Anaya, 
Valley Interfaith brought clean drinking water to over 160,000 
residents of colonias like Las Milpas; secured living wage ordinances 
and raised the salaries of thousands; and, with a new job training 
program, have found jobs for another 1,500.
  Above all, through her work with Valley Interfaith, Mrs. Anaya 
inspired her neighbors to believe in themselves, in their communities, 
and in their ability to bring about change. Those once isolated and 
frustrated are now an organized voice with the ability to demand 
justice.
  Last Monday, I visited with the Anaya family at their home in Las 
Milpas shortly after the celebration of a funeral mass in the Parish of 
Santa Cabrini at which Ernesto Cortez, Jr., who continues to provide 
the leadership for a network of groups like Valley Interfaith, spoke of 
her leadership and tenacity in a eulogy. Mrs. Anaya loved her church at 
which she attended choir practice twice a week. At the rosary, Ofelia 
de los Santos, a friend through whom I got to know Mrs. Anaya, spoke of 
her involvement of her church in the quest for social justice.
  St. Frances or Santa Cabrini, as she is known in the Valley, is a 
saint who is the patroness of immigrants. And it was Carmen Anaya, an 
immigrant to our Nation, who spread the gospel through her words and 
deeds. Her example is particularly significant in the course of the 
ongoing national debate about immigration. Because two farm workers 
came across the Rio Grande to do hot, hard, demanding work, America has 
gained not only from their labors but from their six children:
  Jose, Jr., who operated the family store, now works for the city of 
Pharr.
  Diana and Consuelo each provide leadership for our country's future 
as public school principals.
  Minerva, or Minnie, a retired U.S. Air Force lieutenant colonel, is 
now a homebuilder with her husband, retired Green Beret colonel, Chris 
St. John.
  Eduardo, Eddie, an attorney and certified public accountant, has the 
only law office in Las Milpas.
  Linda, a nurse, is an administrator at Cornerstone Regional Hospital.
  The life of service of any one child would be enough to make a parent 
proud. But think how much our country gains and continues to gain from 
the service of each of these six children. Her life and her children 
say more about family values than a thousand speeches from the floor of 
this Congress. And in the ongoing national debate about immigration, we 
should reflect on her legacy. Mexican immigrants like Carmen and Jose 
Anaya have offered much to their adopted land. America is the stronger 
for their presence.

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