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Hispanic Heritage Month: Port Chester Is Westchester County's First Majority-Hispanic Municipality

PORT CHESTER, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- CBS2 is marking Hispanic Heritage Month through Oct. 15 and there is much to celebrate in Port Chester, the first majority-Hispanic municipality in Westchester County.

It's home to a thriving business district that spans many Hispanic cultures, CBS2's Tony Aiello reported Thursday.

Immigrants from across Central and South American have found a home in Port Chester, New York.

The owner of Four Guys Buffet has learned to cater to them all.

"Those are pupusa from El Salvador... That's Mexico-style chicken... Papas rellenas from Pero," Fernando Vallejoa said. "We enjoy each other. Learn each other's food, music, dance. Everything."

Port Chester reminds us there is no, one monolithic Hispanic culture.

"We are a very diverse community. There are 20 Spanish-speaking countries and all are represented here in Westchester County," said Martha Lopez, director of immigrant affairs for the county.

Lopez came to the U.S. from Mexico 48 years ago and has watched the Hispanic population flourish in Westchester. It has grown 30.1% since 2010 - a major reason why the county topped 1 million residents for the first time.

Bringing down barriers to Hispanic political power is an ongoing process.

In 2006, the Bush administration successfully sued Port Chester, claiming the "at large" election system disenfranchised the Hispanic majority. In 2010, Port Chester finally elected its first Hispanic to the village board.

At Mistic La Madam Boutique, Venezuela-native Debora Davila said many Hispanic business owners are motivated by the American dream.

"We are very proud and we are very grateful, too," Davila said. "We have been accepted well for everybody around here."

"I hear it every day. People that now have their own businesses, students that are going on to Ivy League schools," Lopez said.

Earlier this year, Port Chester elected its first-ever Hispanic mayor, Luis Marino, an immigrant from Peru.

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