WASHINGTON (AP) – Veteran Democratic Rep. Ruben Hinojosa announced Friday that he will not seek re-election next year, calling an end to a 20-year career for a lawmaker who has represented a South Texas district with one of the heaviest concentrations of Hispanics in the country.
Hinojosa, 75, will serve out his 10th term in Congress, which ends in January 2017. He was first elected in 1996.
"I'm announcing officially that I am not going to seek re-election. But I will not just go to a wheelchair or go to a walking chair. I'm going to stay busy," Hinojosa said at a news conference in McAllen, Texas.
Hinojosa said he will look at opportunities that are available after he completes his final term. He did not elaborate.
His Democratic-leaning Texas district, which snakes from south of San Antonio to the Mexican border, is about 80 percent Hispanic, according to a study last year by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.
Hinojosa served as chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, which represents Latino lawmakers, in 2013 and 2014.
He has pushed legislation increasing federal aid for Hispanic students and easing the path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally.
President Barack Obama said he was grateful for Hinojosa's "tireless efforts" to fix the immigration system, protect vulnerable families, make higher education more affordable and expand job-training programs.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Hinojosa's retirement means Congress will be losing "one of our most dedicated champions for advancing the education and opportunity for all Americans."
"For almost 20 years, Congressman Hinojosa's towering leadership has driven progress for aspiring students, rural families and Latino communities across America," she said in a statement.