‘We will not stop fighting for what is right for our country’

We joined DREAMers and fellow advocates on Capitol Hill to condemn the attempts to block a Dream law.

UnidosUS joined DREAmers and advocates on January 19, 2018 for a Capitol Hill press conference condemning lawmakers for blocking a vote on Dream Act legislation. Photo: UnidosUS | Dreamers

UnidosUS joined DREAmers and advocates on Capitol Hill on January 19, 2018 to call out congressional leaders for not pursuing a Dream bill. Photo: UnidosUS

By Stephanie Presch, Content Specialist, UnidosUS

As a possible government shutdown looms, advocates from a coalition of 45 Latino rights organizations arrived on Capitol Hill on Friday to demand relief for the nearly 800,000 young people left in limbo after President Trump ended DACA.

The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Hispanic Federation, and the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) also brought 150 DREAMers with them from California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, DC.

While congressional leaders fail to arrive at a solution for these young people, 122 become deportable each day.

That isn’t just 122 dreams deferred each day, 122 people who suddenly can’t keep their jobs, can’t afford their education, have to put off buying a home, or simply can no longer provide for their families.

That’s 122 people who suddenly are thrust into the unknown, forced to live in fear of being deported back to a country where they not only may know no one at all, but be in very real danger.

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Mr. President: Puerto Ricans Are Americans Too

Hurricane Maria deserves the same response as Harvey and Irma.

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, UnidosUS

Once again, we need to remind our federal government that our fellow citizens in Puerto Rico must not be forgotten.

The lack of swift, decisive, and highly visible presidential and congressional action as 3.5 million American children and families suffer the effects of Hurricane Maria is inexcusable. In the past month, three hurricanes have hit different parts of the United States—including Puerto Rico. Within days, the president and other leaders responded in Texas and Florida. However, the president was silent for six days on Puerto Rico—and it was only after pressure from the public that the president responded, announcing yesterday that he would visit the island next week. This delay in response demonstrates that millions of our fellow American citizens are being treated differently. This is wrong.

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Rise Together

We’re proud to share a copy of the 2016 NCLR Annual Report with you.

Although much of this past year was dominated by a political landscape that often demonized and targeted our community, NCLR and our national network of affiliated community-based organizations achieved significant victories for Latino families.

Read the 2016 NCLR Annual Report.

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Trump Needs to Apologize to Judge Curiel

Donald Trump’s attack on Judge Gonzalo Curiel is despicable. Saying that someone has an “inherent conflict of interest” because of their heritage is pretty much a textbook example of racism. It seems like any semblance of a fig leaf that Trump’s rhetoric is about immigration and his wall rather than animus toward an entire community of 55 million has been blown away.

For the record, Judge Gonzalo Curiel was a member of La Raza Lawyers Association, a respected network of local bar associations of Latino lawyers and judges in California. We are the National Council of La Raza, a different group and the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States.

There are in fact hundreds if not thousands of organizations, media outlets, and associations that use “La Raza.” There is nothing nefarious about the use of this term. It simply refers to the Hispanic people and it is a nod to our common heritage. But apparently that heritage is the reason Donald Trump believes he cannot get a fair shake from Judge Curiel. It brings back awful memories of more than a few people saying that Thurgood Marshall should not have been the first African-American Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court because of his long and storied involvement in the civil rights movement.

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Is Brown the New White?

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

BrownNewWhiteAt a time when we’re being assaulted by new levels of hate, intolerance, and bigotry in our political campaigns, an important new book, Brown is the New White: How the Demographic Revolution Has Created a New American Majority, points the way toward a more inclusive, just, and fair society. Written by Steve Phillips, a veteran social justice activist and founder of PowerPAC+, Brown is the New White argues that a “new American majority” composed of progressive people of color and Whites is already a demographic reality. He cautions correctly, though, that this potential alliance is not yet a political reality. That would require—and is still awaiting—an affirmative effort to be mobilized and realized by increasing “cultural competence” and making wiser electoral investments.

Phillips’ book makes several critical contributions to public discourse on the subject. Through rigorous analysis of the country’s changing demographics, Phillips shows that the combined potential voting power of progressive people of color and Whites is already an effective working majority. He carefully studies Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans, Native Americans, and Arab Americans, demonstrating that they share many common interests with each other and with many White Americans.

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Let’s Focus on What Matters

By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR

Photo: Gage Skidmore

Photo: Gage Skidmore

It seems that we in the Latino community are not exempt from this election’s silly season. This week Buzzfeed published an article stating that the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA)—a 25-year-old coalition of the 40 largest Latino organizations in the country—was “kicking out” Presente, an online organization that aims to amplify Latino voices, because of its attack this week on HUD Secretary Julián Castro. This is false. And apparently reporting from the future, kos of Daily Kos took this unsubstantiated and unconfirmed rumor as fact and even ascribed motivations to why it was done: “old school” Latino organizations objecting to criticism of a Latino leader.

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NCLR AmeriCorps Expands Its Reach

Americorps1The 11 NCLR LENS AltaMed AmeriCorps members: Back row – Lluvia Macias, Jocelyn Martinez, Jessica Ponce, Francesca Corley, Roxana Barba; Middle Row – Allen Marshall, America Torres, Ernesto Vicencio, Jennifer Ng, Helen Chag; Front – Rafael Marron

NCLR has been operating and overseeing AmeriCorps programs since 1995. As a longstanding grantee of the Corporation for National and Community Services (CNCS), NCLR has promoted national service across the country and to a demographic that may not be familiar with service options.

Americorps2Rafael Marron calling out volunteers

Last month NCLR AmeriCorps members throughout the nation participated in the Martin Luther King Day of Service. This is NCLR’s 21st year of promoting service activities around the holiday by making it a day on, not off.

AltaMed NCLR Lens AmeriCorps members joined efforts with other AmeriCorps cohorts including AltaMed and Community Clinic of the County of Los Angeles Community HealthCorps members for their MLK Day of Service at Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles. The AmeriCorps member activities included college readiness, a health fair, and beautification of the Roosevelt High School campus. There were more than 100 volunteers in attendance.

Americorps3NCLR LENS Group Booth

AmeriCorps engages more than 75,000 Americans in intensive service each year at nonprofits, schools, public agencies, and community- and faith-based groups across the country. In exchange for that service AmeriCorps members can earn an education award that can be used to cover past, present, and future education expenses. Rogelio Quintanar and Veronica Alarcon oversee the implementation of the program. Both NCLR staff members have more than 20 years of experience managing and promoting AmeriCorps and national service. Quintanar has been with NCLR and the AmeriCorps program since 2002 and Alarcon joined the program in 2006.

Americorps4NCLR LENS Group Booth

In managing the program both staff members provide financial oversight and ensure program policy and procedures are compliant with CNCS regulations and provisions. Additionally, they are responsible for promoting the program on a national scale and developing partnerships that will advance the mission of the program.

As the NCLR-AmeriCorps relationship continues to grow, more youth leaders are participating in community service activities. In a few weeks, NCLR AmeriCorps members will be back in their communities participating in more services projects as AmeriCorps Week approaches, which is March 5–12, 2016.

NCLR AmeriCorps Calendar for 2016:

  • March 5–12, 2016 | AmeriCorps Week
  • April 12–18, 2016 | National Volunteer Week
  • April 2016 (date TBD) | National and Global Youth Service Day
  • May 2, 2015 | Join Hands Day
  • September 11, 2016 | 9/11 National Day of Service and Remembrance

How NCLR Helped Me #WashAwayLabels

By Danny Rico, NCLR Donor Advocate

Last month, the National Council of La Raza partnered with Tide® to #WashAwayLabels that are negatively impacting the Latino community and instead recognize the positive contributions Hispanics bring to the cultural melting pot in the United States.

As part of the campaign, Tide and NCLR produced a video asking Latinos from different nationalities to share their stories about labels or stereotypes, which were then washed away and replaced with a positive word that best described and celebrated their culture.

From all the labels shared, one in particular stood out for me—beaner.

I remember the first time I heard this word like it was just yesterday. I was just eight, our home had just been broken into for the third time that month, and my mom was looking for a new place for us to move. The leasing office assistant came back from speaking with the building manager and said, “No quiere beaners en su apartamento.”

The word began to sink in as I watched the rest of the video, wondering how others would respond if they found themselves in a situation where they were being labeled. And then the answers began to come in:

Over six million individuals responded by watching and engaging with the video, sharing their stories, and joining a community of supporters like NCLR who are committed to washing away labels.

For me, the video and responses gave me an opportunity to once again appreciate the work of NCLR, which has been working to wash away labels and ensure Latinos live safe, healthy, and fulfilling lives for almost 50 years. Such advocacy efforts today help ensure that millions of families like mine will never face housing discrimination again.

So as I reflect on my own story, it brings great joy to stand with NCLR today and join them as I wash away a label that has been staining my life for so long—beaner. To be able to write my own message and say: Los Mexicanos somos todos amigos.

To everyone who has helped us deliver this powerful message, thank you.

Click here to sign up for the latest information about the #WashAwayLabels campaign and how you can help Latinos thrive.

Celebrating the Life and Contributions of NCLR Amigo David Carlson

NCLR and the entire Latino community lost a friend, supporter, guardian, and mentor on the morning of September 23. David B. Carlson played a pivotal professional role as a Ford Foundation program officer in nurturing and supporting the nascent Southwest Council of La Raza and its seven original Affiliates in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Two decades later, we were delighted to welcome him back into the extended NCLR family in a personal capacity as the loving husband of Spanish Speaking Unity Council Executive Director and NCLR Board member Arabella Martinez. Arabella had returned to revitalize the venerable organization she had helped found, bringing it back from the brink of bankruptcy to the enormously successful and indispensable organization it remains today for the residents of the Fruitvale neighborhood of Oakland, CA.

David Carlson was always about being “both and,” never “either or.” He was both a student of history and a visionary of a future few others could see. He was both a careful steward of the public trust, insisting that his grantees were fully accountable for the foundation investments he oversaw, and a fierce defender of the Latino community’s right to determine its own course. He had both a gentle spirit and genial demeanor, and a steely commitment to social justice.

Five decades ago he foresaw a vision of a vibrant, dynamic community that today is the nation’s largest ethnic minority in what was then a relatively tiny Latino population with few stable institutions. He knew then that diversity is America’s greatest strength—a fundamental idea that regrettably is under assault from new, previously unforeseen quarters. He understood that it was not just possible, but essential for Latinos to be both proud of their heritage and deeply loyal and patriotic Americans. He also knew then that this community would need powerful and effective institutions to advance its interests. Thus, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, he successfully fought to both protect the Southwest Council and its Affiliates from ideological attacks during their critical formative years and insist that they work tirelessly to improve their performance.

It is not at all clear that NCLR or its flagship Affiliates, like the Unity Council, would even exist today but for the dedication of David Carlson; what is clear is that we, and the over 55 million Latinos we represent and serve, are all better off for having had the privilege of working with him. We offer our sincere condolences to his wife Arabella and their families on his passing, but we know they’re comforted by the knowledge that truly, his was a life well-lived.