|Congressman Hastings honored Mr. Jose Lagos by giving the following speech on December 11, 2009:
Madam Speaker, I rise today to honor the life of humanitarian and compassionate activist, Mr. Jose Lagos. Mr. Lagos died of cancer on November 30, 2009 at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida at the age of 45. My heartfelt condolences go out to his family and friends at this most difficult time.
Emigrating from his home country of Honduras, Mr. Lagos spent his life working to improve South Florida’s immigration policies. He was born on April 11, 1964 in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, where he attended a Catholic high school. In 1985, Mr. Lagos and his family relocated to Miami where he enrolled at Miami-Dade Community College. He went on to earn an Associate's Degree in business administration. In 1990, Mr. Lagos began working on immigration issues as the executive director of an association that helped medical school graduates from other countries obtain their physician's licenses.
Mr. Lagos was a true leader and unifier. South Florida is a mosaic of different immigrant cultures and, unfortunately, many Federal immigration policies have proven to be more divisive than effective. Mr. Lagos worked to overcome these obstacles. As director of the non-profit Unidad Hondurena, Spanish for “Honduran Unity,” Mr. Lagos bridged ideological gaps and created powerful synergies throughout the immigration community. He led vigorous grassroots efforts to advance the rights of fellow Hondurans and Hispanics, including protesting fee hikes for temporary work permits and citizenship applications, alerting immigrants to scams, and organizing charities. Mr. Lagos understood the power of unity and also strongly supported efforts to gain Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitians.
One year ago, Mr. Lagos was diagnosed with cancer. Throughout his treatment, however, his spirit never wavered. He continued to speak on behalf of those who came to our country seeking the American dream. This past summer, Mr. Lagos exhibited his dedication and courage outside a church in Little Havana by rallying others to protest the suspension of international aid to Honduras. This is the mark of a true hero, a champion of the people.
Madam Speaker, Mr. Jose Lagos will be remembered in South Florida for his message of unity. He celebrated and embodied our great nation’s rich immigrant heritage. The loss of Mr. Lagos is indeed a loss for us all, and for the battle for fair immigration reform.