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    By Sara Benitez, Research Analyst, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation

    In March 2011, more than thirty families let us into their lives—some even into their homes—to tell us about the measures they take each day to put a healthy meal on the table. That’s when I hit the road, traveling with Kara Ryan to three states, to learn about the nutrition experiences of Latino children and families.

    In San Antonio, I had the honor of meeting Crystal, a 26-year-old mother of three, whose experience shows the resilience and savvy of families trying to eat healthfully on a limited budget. Like all of the parents and caretakers we met, Crystal only wants what is best for her children. Crystal has big dreams for her children, and with five-year-old son Carlos recently diagnosed with lupus, a chronic autoimmune disease, she is acutely aware that she must do everything she can to help all of her children meet their dietary needs. When we met Crystal, she was temporarily unemployed and feeding her family on a budget of $125 per week, which is just short of the $140 the USDA estimates it costs to feed a family of four a healthy diet. In spite of these challenges, Crystal was determined to do whatever it took to feed her children healthy foods. Her resolve to eat better came about two years ago when Crystal took a class on childhood obesity at a community-based organization. From this class, Crystal learned about the nutritional value of different foods and how to shop for healthy food on a budget.

    Crystal began by making small changes, such as exchanging flour tortillas for corn, and whole-grain wheat bread in place of white bread. The family also started eating at home more, saving them money and bringing them closer together. When talking about these changes, Crystal pointed to her family’s dining table to show us where her family now sits down to eat dinner and talk about their day. In reflecting on these changes and their impact on her family, Crystal proudly told us that after a few months of switching to healthier foods both she and her kids have lost weight and one day her daughter looked at her and said, “Mom, I feel better.”

    As you’ll hear in the video, Crystal feeds her family by searching for the most affordable, nutritious food she can find. She compares prices on frozen and fresh produce, pinching pennies while trying to maximize the nutritional value of foods. In fact, Crystal calls herself a bargain shopper who carefully plans her weekly shopping trips by reviewing newspaper ads, writing a precise grocery list, and going to more than one store to find the lowest price.

    Crystal does not have it easy—she is raising three children, including one with a serious medical condition—on a tight budget. Crystal’s firsthand account and the experiences of other Latino families can not only help us better understand the challenges Latino families face, but also how to overcome the barriers that make it hard to access healthy food. For example, Crystal’s story shows us that education is an important and integral part of the solution for improving child nutrition, yet it is only one piece of the puzzle. What Crystal learned through education helped her change her family’s eating habits. But her family continues to live just on the edge of hunger, challenged by the high prices of healthy foods. Food shopping strategies that she learned at a community-based organization, access to more lower-cost, healthy foods, and better income security would all help Crystal and other Latino families buy the nutritious foods they want their families to eat.

    As I think about Crystal, I think about the millions of Latino families just like hers, who are learning about good nutrition and doing everything they can to put healthy food on the table. I believe that by telling their stories we can build support for policy changes that will make it easier for Crystal and others like her to feed their families.

    You can help us tell the story of Latino families by forwarding Crystal’s video to your networks, reading the storybook, and viewing the full film.

    For more news and resources about Latino families and nutrition, please visit NCLR’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Families web page at www.nclr.org/nutrition.    


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  • 08/05/11--12:11: It’s All About Good Jobs!
  • By Sara Benitez, Research Analyst, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR

    At NCLR’s Annual Conference last week, Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D–MO), Chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus, told us that he recently spoke at a press conference where he said one word—“jobs.” At NCLR, we agree with Representative Cleaver and the millions of people across the country who believe our nation’s priority should be creating new jobs. And not just any jobs, but good jobs.  Check out Mr. Cleaver's remarks below.

    Our nation’s belief that all work is dignified and worthy of recognition and respect is codified in laws that protect our right to be paid a fair wage, to organize labor unions, and to stay safe on the job. Yet in today’s competitive economic climate, unscrupulous employers are bending and breaking those laws to save money, putting workers’ livelihoods—and their lives—at risk. Our analyses of the monthly jobs reports from the Department of Labor show that the fastest-growing sectors of the economy—restaurants, health care, and hospitality—employ large segments of the Latino workforce. This should be good news in light of the Hispanic unemployment rate, which was 11.3% in July. But the growth of low-wage industries is also cause for alarm. As we show in this month’s jobs report, The Price of Luxury: Latinos in the Accommodation Sector, and at a recent briefing on Capitol Hill, many workers in the hotel industry experience significant threats to their health and safety. Without policies to improve job quality in these industries, more of the Latino workforce will be relegated to jobs where they could become injured, ill, and unable to take care of their families.

    At a time when workers need vigorous enforcement of our labor laws, budget constraints are threatening to undermine the already limited enforcement capacity of the Department of Labor. Cutting funding for the Department of Labor’s enforcement branches will mean less oversight of employers and put more workers at risk.

    On July 15, NCLR held a briefing on Capitol Hill on the need for strong funding levels in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage and Hour Division, the branches of the U.S. Department of Labor that are responsible for enforcing core labor laws. At the briefing we highlighted personal accounts of Latino workers who had been injured or ill on the job. I shared the dramatic story of a young man who experienced threats to his health in nearly every workplace, including a job cleaning asbestos. Margarita Ramos (pictured below), a room attendant at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and a spokesperson for the Hotel Workers Rising Campaign, gave a compelling personal testimony about injuring her knee while scrubbing bathroom floors and described the physical pain from carrying out tasks such as lifting 100-lb. mattresses to make hotel beds. In fact, several of her coworkers have to take pain medication every day to continue doing their jobs. An OSHA complaint filed by UNITE HERE has resulted in citations requiring Margarita’s employer to provide ergonomic housekeeping equipment such as long-handled mops and tools for tucking in sheets. Margarita reported that OSHA helped the room attendants make their jobs safer by getting their employer to pay attention and respond to the room attendants’ requests for new equipment. From Margarita’s perspective, “OSHA offers us solutions that mean the difference between healthy bodies and injured housekeepers.”

    NCLR was joined by workers’ rights experts who presented on the broad impact of enforcement agencies. Peg Seminario, Director of Occupational Safety and Health at AFL-CIO, gave an overview of OSHA’s history and explained that more—not fewer—investigators are needed to keep up with the growth of the labor market. Esther Lopez, Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union explained that in today’s economy “profits are counted by the cent, and good actors are challenged by bad actors. We need strong enforcement to send a message to other employers and change the behavior of whole sectors and industries.”

    As demonstrated by Margarita’s story, without strong enforcement of labor laws workers have little power to make changes to their workplaces. This month’s Latino Employment Report, which focuses on Margarita’s industry, shows that Latinos are disproportionately represented in the hotel and accommodation sectors, where many workers face daily threats to their health and safety. The report provides policy recommendations to strengthen the capacity of the Department of Labor to enforce the nation’s labor laws.

    Help NCLR stand up for workers’ rights and good jobs by joining our action network and forwarding this blog post. You can keep tabs on the latest policies and trends and their impact on Latino workers by reading and sharing these resources:


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  • 08/05/11--12:11: It’s All About Good Jobs!
  • By Sara Benitez, Research Analyst, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR

    At NCLR’s Annual Conference last week, Representative Emanuel Cleaver, II (D–MO), Chairman of the Black Congressional Caucus, told us that he recently spoke at a press conference where he said one word—“jobs.” At NCLR, we agree with Representative Cleaver and the millions of people across the country who believe our nation’s priority should be creating new jobs. And not just any jobs, but good jobs.  Check out Mr. Cleaver's remarks below.

    Our nation’s belief that all work is dignified and worthy of recognition and respect is codified in laws that protect our right to be paid a fair wage, to organize labor unions, and to stay safe on the job. Yet in today’s competitive economic climate, unscrupulous employers are bending and breaking those laws to save money, putting workers’ livelihoods—and their lives—at risk. Our analyses of the monthly jobs reports from the Department of Labor show that the fastest-growing sectors of the economy—restaurants, health care, and hospitality—employ large segments of the Latino workforce. This should be good news in light of the Hispanic unemployment rate, which was 11.3% in July. But the growth of low-wage industries is also cause for alarm. As we show in this month’s jobs report, The Price of Luxury: Latinos in the Accommodation Sector, and at a recent briefing on Capitol Hill, many workers in the hotel industry experience significant threats to their health and safety. Without policies to improve job quality in these industries, more of the Latino workforce will be relegated to jobs where they could become injured, ill, and unable to take care of their families.

    At a time when workers need vigorous enforcement of our labor laws, budget constraints are threatening to undermine the already limited enforcement capacity of the Department of Labor. Cutting funding for the Department of Labor’s enforcement branches will mean less oversight of employers and put more workers at risk.

    On July 15, NCLR held a briefing on Capitol Hill on the need for strong funding levels in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Wage and Hour Division, the branches of the U.S. Department of Labor that are responsible for enforcing core labor laws. At the briefing we highlighted personal accounts of Latino workers who had been injured or ill on the job. I shared the dramatic story of a young man who experienced threats to his health in nearly every workplace, including a job cleaning asbestos. Margarita Ramos, a room attendant at the Hyatt Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles and a spokesperson for the Hotel Workers Rising Campaign, gave a compelling personal testimony about injuring her knee while scrubbing bathroom floors and described the physical pain from carrying out tasks such as lifting 100-lb. mattresses to make hotel beds. In fact, several of her coworkers have to take pain medication every day to continue doing their jobs. An OSHA complaint filed by UNITE HERE has resulted in citations requiring Margarita’s employer to provide ergonomic housekeeping equipment such as long-handled mops and tools for tucking in sheets. Margarita reported that OSHA helped the room attendants make their jobs safer by getting their employer to pay attention and respond to the room attendants’ requests for new equipment. From Margarita’s perspective, “OSHA offers us solutions that mean the difference between healthy bodies and injured housekeepers.”

    NCLR was joined by workers’ rights experts who presented on the broad impact of enforcement agencies. Peg Seminario, Director of Occupational Safety and Health at AFL-CIO, gave an overview of OSHA’s history and explained that more—not fewer—investigators are needed to keep up with the growth of the labor market. Esther Lopez, Director of the Civil Rights and Community Action Department at the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) International Union explained that in today’s economy “profits are counted by the cent, and good actors are challenged by bad actors. We need strong enforcement to send a message to other employers and change the behavior of whole sectors and industries.”

    As demonstrated by Margarita’s story, without strong enforcement of labor laws workers have little power to make changes to their workplaces. This month’s Latino Employment Report, which focuses on Margarita’s industry, shows that Latinos are disproportionately represented in the hotel and accommodation sectors, where many workers face daily threats to their health and safety. The report provides policy recommendations to strengthen the capacity of the Department of Labor to enforce the nation’s labor laws.

    Help NCLR stand up for workers’ rights and good jobs by joining our action network and forwarding this blog post. You can keep tabs on the latest policies and trends and their impact on Latino workers by reading and sharing these resources:


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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

    Contacto:
    Narissa Johnson, Southwest Key Programs
    (512) 934-4445, njohnson@swkey.org
    David Castillo, NCLR, (202) 776-1771
    Sarah-Frances Wallace, Lowe’s Companies, Inc. (704) 758-4339
     

    La Fundación de Beneficencia y Educación de Lowe’s y el Consejo Nacional de La Raza contribuyen para que una escuela secundaria tenga un futuro más promisorio

    AUSTIN, Texas— La escuela East Austin College Prep Academy será la anfitriona de una celebración comunitaria el jueves 11 de agosto de las 5:00 PM a las 8:00 PM, para inaugurar su biblioteca recientemente renovada. La fiesta denominada ¡Vivan los libros! se llevará a cabo en la escuela ubicada en El Centro de Familia de Southwest Key en 6002 Jain Lane en Austin. El evento es gratuito y estará abierto al público, y se regalarán libros a los asistentes. Asimismo se llevarán a cabo una campaña de registro electoral, una muestra de trabajos de los estudiantes, y se narrarán cuentos, a la vez que se presentarán obras de teatro y danzas.

    Joaquín Castro (Distrito 125), representante de Texas, se unirá al Dr. Juan Sánchez, presidente del Consejo de Administración de la escuela East Austin College Prep Academy y presidente/director general y fundador de Southwest Key Programs, y a un representante de la sucursal de Lowe’s de Austin en la ceremonia donde se cortara la cinta de inauguración. Después de la ceremonia, las familias podrán visitar la nueva biblioteca. El Programa de Preservación del Arte Latino presentarán un Ballet Folklórico y la obra teatral Where the Wild Things Are con narración en español.

    La renovación de la biblioteca pudo realizarse gracias a la subvención de $25,000 otorgada por el Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés) y la Fundación de Beneficencia y Educación de Lowe’s. Los fondos de la subvención se destinaron para la renovación de la biblioteca de la escuela y el laboratorio equipado con computadoras para realizar investigaciones, así como también para adquirir nuevas estanterías, sillas, alfombras, carritos, libros y periódicos.

    La escuela East Austin College Prep Academy es una escuela secundaria charter innovadora y gratuita cuyo objetivo es preparar exitosamente a todos los estudiantes, independientemente de su situación económica, para que estén listos para cursar un estricto plan de estudios que los capacite para la preparatoria, se gradúen, y en última instancia, tengan éxito en la universidad y en su carrera profesional. Según una investigación citada por la American Library Association, el hecho de que una biblioteca cuente con buenos programas y recursos contribuye a cerrar la brecha de rendimiento escolar de los estudiantes pobres y de los procedentes de minorías, especialmente en los puntajes correspondientes a lectura a nivel de la escuela secundaria.

    East Austin College Prep Academy es una de cuatro escuelas que renovaron este año sus bibliotecas con fondos provistos por la Fundación de Beneficencia y Educación de Lowe’s. Cada escuela recibió $25,000 para la renovación de su biblioteca. Las otras escuelas que recibieron este subsidio son las siguientes: George I. Sanchez Charter High School en Houston, y Camino Nuevo Charter Academy y Los Angeles Leadership Academy situadas en Los Angeles.

    AVISO DE PRENSA

    QUÉ: Celebración comunitaria por la renovación de la biblioteca de la escuela 

    East Austin College Prep Academy, habrán libros de regalo, una campaña de registro electoral, ceremonia con el corte de la cinta para la inauguración del evento, y presentación de obras de teatro

    y danzas.

    CUÁNDO: Jueves 11 de agosto de las 5:00 PM a las 8:00 PM

    DÓNDE: El Centro de Familia de Southwest Key
    6002 Jain Lane
    Austin, TX 78721

    QUIÉNES: Dr. Juan Sánchez, presidente del Consejo de Administración de la escuela
    East Austin College Prep Academy y presidente/director general y fundador de Southwest Key Programs
    Joaquín Castro, representante de Texas (Distrito 125)
    Un representante de la sucursal de Lowe’s de Austin Actuaciones del Programa de Preservación del Arte Latino

    ###

    Acerca del Consejo Nacional de La Raza
    El Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR) es la organización nacional más grande de apoyo y defensa de los derechos civiles de los hispanos en los Estados Unidos y trabaja para mejorar sus oportunidades. Para más información sobre el NCLR, por favor visite www.nclr.org o síganos en Facebook y Twitter.

    Acerca de LOWE’S
    Lowe’s apoya a las comunidades a través de sus programas dirigidos a la educación pública de los grados K–12 y proyectos de mejoras de la comunidad. La empresa tiene un programa de becas para la educación: Lowe’s Toolbox for Education. Desde 2005, cuando inició este programa, ha donado anualmente más de $5 millones de dólares en becas para los grados K–12 de las escuelas públicas. Los “Héroes de Lowe’s” son empleados voluntarios que apoyan los proyectos comunitarios locales y colaboran con organizaciones sin fines de lucro como Habitat for Humanity International y la Cruz Roja Americana. En 2010, Lowe’s y su Fundación de Beneficencia y Educación contribuyeron con más de $30 millones de dólares para apoyar a comunidades en los Estados Unidos, Canadá y México. Para obtener más información, visite Lowes.com/socialresponsibility


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Joseph Rendeiro
    jrendeiro@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1566


    Telephonic press conference examines implications of the Alabama anti-immigrant law on various communities

    Washington, D.C.—On Friday, August 5, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) joined an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit filed by a coalition of civil rights groups—Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Alabama, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, and the Asian American Justice Center, among others—challenging Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB 56, passed earlier this summer. HB 56 is the harshest anti-immigrant law in the nation, authorizing police officers to investigate the immigration status of noncriminals, requiring that schools collect information about the citizenship of their students, and making it illegal to transport an undocumented individual.

    Join NCLR, as well as representatives from the National Education Association and Legal Momentum, which have also filed amicus briefs, for a telephonic press briefing about their decisions to support the legal challenge to Alabama’s extreme law.

    The discussion coincides with the release of “National Copycat Landscape,” a map created by NCLR, which provides a portrait of the status of SB 1070 copycat legislation across the United States. The map will be posted on NCLR’s State and Local Initiatives page on Thursday.

    MEDIA ADVISORY

    WHO:                   - Elena Lacayo, Immigration Field Coordinator, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, NCLR
                                  - Leslye E. Orloff, Vice President and Director, Legal Momentum Immigrant Women Program
                                  - Alice O’Brien, General Counsel, National Education Association
                                  - Rev. Andrew Dawkins, Montgomery Improvement Association

    WHAT:                   Challenging Alabama’s HB 56 Telephonic Press Briefing

    WHEN:                  Thursday, August 11, 2011, 1:00 p.m. EDT

    HOW:                    Call: 800-895-0231
                                   Conference Title: Challenging Alabama’s HB 56
                                   Conference ID: 7HB56

     

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Joseph Rendeiro
    jrendeiro@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1566


    Groups join telephonic press conference to highlight concerns over HB 56

    Washington, D.C.—On Friday, August 5, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) joined an amicus brief supporting the lawsuit filed by a coalition of civil rights groups—Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the ACLU of Alabama, the National Immigration Law Center, the Asian Law Caucus, and the Asian American Justice Center, among others—challenging Alabama’s extreme anti-immigrant law, HB 56, which was signed by Gov. Robert Bentley (R–AL) in June. The Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!), an NCLR Affiliate, is the lead plaintiff for this lawsuit.

    Today, NCLR is holding a telephonic press briefing with representatives from the National Education Association, the NAACP Alabama State Conference, Legal Momentum, and the Montgomery Improvement Association, which have also filed amicus briefs, to explain their decisions to support the legal challenge to Alabama’s law. To participate in that call, please visit the NCLR website.

    “This law will adversely impact the way community-based organizations provide vital services to the people of Alabama, including Hispanic citizens and lawful residents,” said Elena Lacayo, Immigration Field Coordinator for the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at NCLR. “The diversity of organizations that have signed briefs supporting the legal challenge show the broad opposition to HB 56. This law is an affront to who we are as a nation and who we are as human beings, and our country must choose to stand up for American ideals and reject those that appeal to our worst instincts.”

    The telephonic press briefing also coincides with the release of “National Copycat Landscape,” a map created by NCLR, which portrays the status of anti-immigration legislation throughout the United States. The map indicates states that have passed Arizona SB 1070 copycats, states that have rejected such bills, and states that are still considering anti-immigrant legislation. It also notes where courts have blocked legislation.

    NCLR plans to make the map fully interactive on its website in the coming weeks. For a state-by-state breakdown explaining up-to-date anti-immigrant legislation developments, please visit NCLR’s summary webpage.

     

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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

    Contacto:
    Julián Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1812


    Se unen grupos a la conferencia de prensa telefónica para destacar las preocupaciones sobre la Ley HB 56

     

    Washington, D.C.— El viernes 5 de agosto, el NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza) se unió a un escrito de amicus curiae – expresión en Latín que significa ‘amigo de la corte’ - que apoya la demanda presentada por una coalición de grupos de derechos civiles: el Centro de Leyes sobre la Pobreza en el Sur, el Sindicato Americano de Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por sus siglas en inglés), la ACLU de Alabama, el Centro Jurídico Nacional de Inmigración, el Caucus Asiático de Leyes, y el Centro de Justicia Asiático Estadounidense, entre otros, para desafiar la extremista ley antiinmigrante de Alabama, Ley HB 56, que fue firmada en junio por el gobernador Robert Bentley (R-AL). La Coalición del Interés Hispano de Alabama (¡HICA!, por sus siglas en inglés), una organización afiliada al NCLR, es la principal demandante del caso.

    Hoy, el NCLR realizará una conferencia de prensa vía telefónica con representantes de la Asociación Nacional de Educación, la Conferencia NAACP del Estado de Alabama, Legal Momentum y la Asociación de Mejoramiento de Montgomery, que también han presentado un escrito de amicus curiae, para explicar su decisión de respaldar el desafío legal a la ley de Alabama. Para participar en la llamada, por favor visite el sitio web del NCLR.

    “Esta ley afectará negativamente la manera en que las organizaciones comunitarias proveen servicios vitales a la gente de Alabama, incluyendo a los ciudadanos y residentes legales hispanos”, dijo Elena Lacayo, coordinadora de asuntos de inmigración de la Oficina de Investigación, Defensa y Legislación del NCLR. “Las diferentes organizaciones que han firmado la petición apoyan el desafío legal, demuestran la gran oposición que existe en contra de la Ley HB 56. Esta ley es una afrenta a lo que somos como nación y como seres humanos, y nuestro país debe optar por defender los ideales estadounidenses y rechazar aquellos que despiertan nuestros peores instintos”.

    La conferencia de prensa telefónica también coincide con la publicación “Panorama Nacional de Imitadores (National Copycat Landscape)”, un mapa creado por el NCLR, que muestra el estatus de la legislación antiinmigrante en todo el país. El mapa indica los estados que han aprobado leyes similares a la Ley SB 1070 de Arizona, los que las han rechazado, y los que siguen considerando la legislación antiinmigrante. También señala los tribunales que la han bloqueado.

    El NCLR tiene planeado hacer que el mapa sea totalmente interactivo en su sitio web en las próximas semanas. Para obtener un desglose por estado explicando el progreso de la legislación antiinmigrante hasta a la fecha, por favor visite la página web de resumen del NCLR.


    ###
     


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    By Patricia Foxen, Associate Director of Research, NCLR 

    Michael Pollan, the popular author and knower of all things nutritious, has famously said: “... the way we eat represents our most profound engagement with the natural world. Daily, our eating turns nature into culture, transforming the body of the world into our bodies and minds.” Mr. Pollan’s wisdom came immediately to mind as I listened to the stories shared with us by Latino families around the country as part of NCLR’s efforts to document the nutritional challenges faced by Hispanic communities.

    While we heard about the many barriers Latino parents and grandparents confront in feeding their families, and the resourceful steps they take to cope with these challenges, we also heard another resounding and inspirational theme: Latinos tend to make a profound connection between eating well—“comer bien”—and the fundamental well-being and success of their family and community. As we listened to Latinos of all generations and ages, it became clear that the notion of “comer bien” is rooted not only in future aspirations for their families, but also in a sense of tradition and community, where how one eats is as important as what one eats.

    So what, exactly, did our participants mean when they spoke of the value “comer bien?” At the very core, eating well is about ensuring that the food one prepares will allow one’s family to be healthy in body, mind, and spirit. Feeding family members nutritious food, and making sure they have enough of it, enables adults to have the energy required for (often physically strenuous) work, and assures that children can concentrate and learn properly at school. For many Latinos, “comer bien” is associated in a tangible way with the strong desire to make a better life, enable one’s children to succeed, and contribute to one’s community. As one participant said about her family:

    “I want them to have a better life…most Hispanics never had many opportunities. I want them to have them, to take advantage of them…Health is everything, because without health, well, they don’t go to school, they don’t go to work, and all the things that have to get done are not done…without good nutrition, there is no health.”

    “Comer bien” also has strong emotional and cultural connotations. Listening to people’s stories, we heard that eating well is about sharing bonds of love, affection, and support with one’s family, including those from the extended family. Some adults—immigrants in particular—told us about their emotional attachment to traditional food: the preparation and sharing of meals (including traditional foods) is part of a ritual and identity that is crucial to their family’s well-being and continuity. Knowing that their children are well-fed and content is essential to that identity. However, many also stressed the desire to have their children avoid the health problems that they observe around them—or that they themselves have struggled with—such as obesity and diabetes. Balancing tradition and health—adapting cultural “ways of eating” from the home country to lifestyles in the U.S.—is thus another essential element of “comer bien”.

    José, Marina, and Diego in Washington, DC are one of several families who helped us understand that nutrition for Latino families is about far more than the consumption of food. I had a chance to talk with Marina and José, grandparents and guardians of eight-year-old Diego (Diego’s parents have fallen upon hard times). As we hear in this vignette, Marina and José’s efforts to provide Diego with a wholesome diet reveal a deep desire to see their grandson grow up healthy and happy. Moreover, one of José and Marina’s primary goals in their older age is to show Diego the value of staying healthy and eating well through example: while teaching their grandson about the connections between food and well-being, they simultaneously teach him about the essential values of love, family, and accountability.

    “Comer bien,” in Mr. Pollan’s terms, is about transforming nature into culture in the most positive sense. As we seek to understand the struggles and barriers encountered by Latino families in feeding their children, it is important to keep in mind the resiliency and strength that they display in their food habits. Preserving and strengthening the values associated with “comer bien”—and, while we’re at it, learning from grandparents like José and Marina—should be at the core of policies and programs designed to help all families feed their children. 


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    (202) 776-1812
    jteixeira@nclr.org



    The NonProfit Times’s 2011 Annual Power & Influence Top 50 list honors the most influential executives within the nonprofit sector

     

    Washington, D.C.—Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), was recently named one of this nation’s top 50 nonprofit executives by The NonProfit Times, the leading publication for the nonprofit management sector.

    More than 200 nominees were entered into this year’s selection process, with suggestions from contributing editors, former nominees, and others in the nonprofit sector. The publication described Murguía as “a leading civil rights voice,” noting that NCLR’s work on immigration and other national policy is “heard loud and clear.”

    “I am greatly honored that the voice of the nonprofit sector selected me as one of this nation’s top 50 executives,” said Murguía. “It is humbling to be listed with such a distinguished group who help run organizations that, like NCLR, play a vital role in shaping this great nation.”

    This is the 14th annual Power & Influence Top 50 listing from The NonProfit Times, and this year’s chosen were selected for their impact within technology, social entrepreneurship, and influence in the public sectors. The Power & Influence honorees will celebrate their work at The NonProfit Times’s Power & Influence Top 50 Gala next month in the District of Columbia at the National Press Club.

     

    # # #
     


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    By Kathleen La Torre, NCLR Communications Department Intern

    The Latino perspective is often referenced in political discourse, but our community is not a monolith, and we differ on many social issues. While there may be some truth to the stereotype that all Latinos are Catholic and socially conservative, the diversity of the Latino community constantly evolves with each new generation.

    I attended a discussion at the Center for American Progress to further engage on the topic of how the Latino community views reproductive rights and GLBT concerns. The panel featured:

    Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Bishop, Desert Southwestern Conference of the United Methodist Church
    Robert P. Jones, CEO and Founder, Public Religion Research Institute
    Silvia Henriquez, Principal, Conway Strategic
    Joseph Palacios, Adjunct Professor, Georgetown University, and Director, Catholics for Equality Foundation.

    One of the more striking statistics presented—and there were several—was this: in 2050, Whites will no longer be in the majority in the United States. This figure indicates that addressing the growing presence of Latinos in the United States is crucial to the advancement of this country.

    Here’s another interesting statistic: eight in ten first generation Latinos classify themselves as Catholic, whereas only five in ten of the second and third generations identify as Catholic. These numbers indicate that recent immigrants maintain stronger ties to Catholicism, and the strength of the bond decreases as the younger members become more assimilated into American culture and are further removed from the family abroad.

    I appreciated Bishop Carcaño’s observation that the survey inaccurately characterized the views of Protestants by lumping all non-Catholics together as Protestants, even though Baptist views may not be similar to other Christian based-faiths. Bishop Carcaño suggested unpacking the statistics to better understand the views of several different Latino religious and faith backgrounds.

    I left the session thinking that while Latinos generally mirror the general U.S. population’s position on GLBT issues—and are even somewhat more supportive—a greater number of Latinos hold that abortion should be illegal. However, I also noted that Latinos take a contextual approach to issues, meaning that they believe that the individual situation tips the balance as to whether something is right or wrong, whereas Whites tend toward a more absolutist position that some things are just always wrong.

    The presence of an out gay Catholic priest on the panel was thoroughly refreshing. Joseph Palacios talked about being gay, but also about honoring his priestly vows of celibacy. “Being gay doesn’t mean you are a sexual libertine. You can be gay and celibate,” he jokingly said. He brought a different perspective to the panel, with his liberal views on GLBT issues and staunch advocacy against abortion.

    The presenters’ closing remarks were inspiring and timely as we prepare for the 2012 general election. They concluded by reminding us as advocates that we need to move away from the hierarchy of issues and, instead, focus on the intersections of justice to create space for conversation among different religious leaders, political activists, and many others. Latino issues are also gay issues, immigration issues, women’s issues, and everything else across the board. Integration is the key to solving them.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Nayda I. Rivera-Hernández
    (787) 649-9501
    nrivera@nclr.org

     

    Gains of the 1990s lost in economic downturn

    San Juan, Puerto Rico—According to data released by the Annie E Casey Foundation in its 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, Puerto Rico’s children face greater risks than children in the mainland United States in key indicators of child health and well-being.

    The report, released today, had these additional key findings:

    • On nine out of the ten key measures for child well-being, children in Puerto Rico face higher levels of risk overall than the average U.S. child.
    • The child poverty rate for Puerto Rico (57%) is nearly three times the level in the U.S. as a whole (20%).
    • Compared to all U.S. states, Puerto Rico has the highest rates of babies with low birth weight (12.5%), teens not attending school and not working (15%), children without secure parental employment (52%), and children in single-parent families (54%).
    • The infant mortality rate in Puerto Rico (8.4 deaths per 1,000 live births) has improved since 2000.
    • Babies born to teen mothers in Puerto Rico (57 births per 1,000 females ages 15 to 19) decreased 24% between 2000 and 2008.

    “Due to the lack of resources, which become even more limited each day, the well-being of our children is greatly threatened. We have to stop this assault on them and use this information to plan, prioritize, and start allocating resources that will strengthen and invest in our Island’s future. The future of Puerto Rico is its children,” said Nayda Rivera-Hernández, Senior Research Analyst at NCLR (National Council of La Raza).

    According to data in the 22nd annual KIDS COUNT Data Book, the economic and social gains for children that occurred across the 1990s stalled, even before the economic downturn began. This year’s Data Book reports an 18 % increase in the U.S. child poverty rate between 2000 and 2009. Overall, this increase means that 2.5 million more American children are living below the federal poverty line ($21,756 for a family of two adults and two children) and effectively wiping out the gains made on this important measure in the late 1990s.

    In an ongoing effort to track the impact of the recession, there are two new indicators in this year’s data set—the number of children affected by foreclosure, and households with at least one unemployed parent. In Puerto Rico, 3,000 of the state’s children, or less than one percent, have been affected by foreclosure since 2007.

    In addition to the ten key measures tracked in the Data Book, the KIDS COUNT Data Center
    (http://datacenter.kidscount.org) provides easy, online access to the latest child well-being data on hundreds of indicators by state, county, city, and school district. It serves as a comprehensive source of information for policymakers, advocates, members of the media, and others concerned with addressing the needs of children, families, and communities. By visiting the Data Center, users can download the complete Data Book, and create interactive maps and graphs. Visit the new mobile site being launched in conjunction with this year’s Data Book from your smartphone, such as the Android, BlackBerry, or iPhone.

    The KIDS COUNT Data Book with state-by-state rankings and supplemental data is available at http://datacenter.kidscount.org. For interactive Puerto Rico KIDS COUNT data, please visit http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/StateLanding.aspx?state=PR.

    Follow the Annie E. Casey Foundation and this issue on Twitter @aeckidscount and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT.

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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

    Contacto:
    Nayda I. Rivera-Hernández
    (787) 649-9501
    nrivera@nclr.org

    El deterioro económico borra los logros de la década de 1990

     

    San Juan, Puerto Rico—Según los datos divulgados por la Fundación Annie E. Casey en el libro de datos 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, los niños de Puerto Rico enfrentan mayores riesgos que los de los Estados Unidos en los indicadores clave de salud y bienestar infantil.

    El informe publicado hoy muestra estos importantes hallazgos adicionales:

    • En nueve de cada diez medidas clave de bienestar infantil, los niños en Puerto Rico enfrentan, en general, niveles más altos de riesgo que el niño promedio en los Estados Unidos.
    • La tasa de pobreza infantil para Puerto Rico (57%) es casi tres veces el nivel que ocurre en los Estados Unidos continental (20%).
    • En comparación con todos los estados de los Estados Unidos, Puerto Rico tiene las tasas mayores de bebés con bajo peso al nacer (12.5%), de adolescentes que no asisten a la escuela ni trabajan (15%), de niños cuyos padres no tienen trabajos seguro (52%) y de niños en familias monoparentales (45%).
    • La tasa de mortalidad infantil en Puerto Rico (8.4 muertes por cada 1,000 nacimientos vivos) ha mejorado desde el año 2000.
    • La tasa de bebés nacidos a madres adolescentes en Puerto Rico (57 nacimientos por cada 1,000 mujeres entre las edades de 15 y 19 años) disminuyó un 24% entre 2000 y 2008.

    “Debido a la falta de recursos, los cuales son cada día más limitados, el bienestar de nuestros niños corre gran peligro. Tenemos que detener la amenaza que esto representa para ellos y usar esta información para planificar, establecer prioridades y comenzar a asignar los recursos que fortalecen e invierten en el futuro de nuestra isla. Los niños son el futuro de Puerto Rico”, señala Nayda Rivera-Hernández, Analista Sénior de Investigación del Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés).

    Según la información publicada en la edición número 22 del libro de datos anual KIDS COUNT Data Book, los logros económicos y sociales alcanzados para beneficio de los niños durante la década de 1990 se estancaron incluso antes de comenzar la recesión económica. El Libro de Datos de este año informa un aumento de 18% en la tasa de pobreza infantil en los Estados Unidos entre 2000 y 2009. En general, esto significa que, hoy día, 2.5 millones más niños viven por debajo del nivel de pobreza federal ($21,756 para una familia de dos adultos y dos niños), lo que, en efecto, elimina los logros alcanzados al final de la década de 1990 en esta importante medida.

    Como parte de un esfuerzo continuo por seguir el impacto de la recesión, el conjunto de datos de este año incluye dos indicadores nuevos: el número de niños afectados por ejecuciones de hipoteca, y los hogares en que, por lo menos, uno de los padres está desempleado. En Puerto Rico, 3,000 niños, o menos de un uno por ciento, han sido afectados por una ejecución de hipoteca desde 2007.

    Además de las tres medidas clave indicadas en el Libro de datos, el Centro de Datos KIDS COUNT (http://datacenter.kidscount.org) ofrece acceso fácil en línea a los datos más recientes sobre el bienestar infantil según cientos de indicadores clasificados por estado, condado, municipio y distrito escolar. Constituye una fuente abarcadora de información para formuladores de política pública, defensores, periodistas y otras personas interesadas en atender las necesidades de los niños, las familias y las comunidades. Los usuarios que visitan el Centro de Datos pueden descargar el Libro de Datos completo y crear mapas y gráficas interactivas. También pueden visitar el nuevo sitio Web móvil lanzado con el Libro de Datos de este año en un smartphone como el Android, BlackBerry o iPhone.

    El KIDS COUNT Data Book, con clasificaciones por estado y datos complementarios, está disponible en http://datacenter.kidscount.org. Para ver los datos interactivos de KIDS COUNT en Puerto Rico, visite http://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/bystate/StateLanding.aspx?state=PR.

    Siga las actividades de la Fundación Annie E. Casey Foundation y esta edición en Twitter @aeckidscount y en Facebook at www.facebook.com/KIDSCOUNT.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

     

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1812

     

    Washington, D.C.—A new partnership between NCLR (National Council of La Raza) and the Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund proves that learning how to protect your investments and save up for the future can be fun. NCLR and D2D are excited to launch a national Farm Blitz Tournament today, inviting participants to play this popular online game to help players improve their financial knowledge and enter them to win fantastic prizes. The game is available in both Spanish and English and the tournament will run through mid-September.

    “NCLR and its Affiliates are delighted to work with D2D to pilot a unique and innovative method of reaching people about a topic that can sometimes seem complicated and daunting,” said Janis Bowdler, Director of the Wealth-Building Policy Project at NCLR. “Farm Blitz seems like a simple concept, but it effectively breaks down financial fundamentals in a digestible and entertaining way.”

    Farm Blitz allows players to run a farm, requiring them to pay off debt while managing a savings portfolio. This addictive match-three puzzle game offers players tips for how to maximize their long-term earnings and avoid the pitfalls of high-interest, short-term debt.

    “We’ve all been lost in a computer game before, wondering where the time went,” said Bowdler. “But in this game, players are actually learning valuable tools that they can take with them and use in their daily lives to make sound financial decisions.”

    To enter the tournament, simply register and begin playing. The grand prize winner will receive a new Apple iPad 2; 10 players with the highest scores will each be awarded $50 gift cards; and 50 players will be randomly selected to win $25 gift cards. For more information about the rules of the tournament, visit http://nclr.financialentertainment.org/.

    Doorways to Dreams Fund (www.d2dfund.org) is a national nonprofit 501(c)3 organization focused on expanding savings and personal finance opportunities for all Americans, in part by creating, testing, and deploying innovations like financial entertainment.

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    KIDSCOUNT Data Center

    By Nayda Rivera-Hernandez, Senior Research Analyst, NCLR

    Version en español, oprima aquí.

    Credit downgrades, tumbling stock prices, and political gridlock have dominated the public discourse in this country lately. These issues are important, to be sure, but they are not our only concerns. One of the largely unexplored stories is the plight of children in this particularly harsh economic climate. Children—among the most vulnerable members of society—rely on us to provide stability, healthy living, and a good education. In the 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, the Annie E. Casey Foundation examines how children and families are faring during the economic crisis and ties together research on family economic success and the importance of investing in early childhood programs that allow the next generation to succeed.

    For kids in Puerto Rico, the outlook is especially grim. The report shows that Puerto Rico’s children rank far below mainland U.S. children in the top indicators of child well-being. Check out the relevant indicators here. The report also shows that the economic and social gains for children that occurred during the 1990s stalled, even before the economic downturn began.

    The report finds that:

    • On nine out of the ten essential measures for child well-being, children in Puerto Rico are at greater overall risk than the average U.S. child.
    • The child poverty rate for Puerto Rico (57%) is nearly three times higher than the mainland U.S. level (20%).
    • Compared to all U.S. states, Puerto Rico has the highest rates of low-birth weight babies (12.5%), teens not attending school and not working (15%), children without securely employed parents (52%), and children in single-parent families (54%).
    • The infant mortality rate in Puerto Rico—8.4 deaths per 1,000 live births—has improved since 2000.
    • Babies born to teen mothers in Puerto Rico—57 births per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 to 19—decreased 24% between 2000 and 2008.

    This year’s Data Book reports an 18 % increase in the U.S. child poverty rate between 2000 and 2009. Overall, this increase translates to 2.5 million more American children living below the federal poverty line—defined as $21,756 for a family of two adults and two children.

    Share this Information and Join NCLR for a Live Twitter Chat!

    Use the KIDS COUNT Data Book widget to below to find out more about the contents of the report. The widget allows you to select a state and an indicator of child well-being and see the results instantly. If you’re on your smartphone, check out the KIDS COUNT Data Book mobile site or scan the QR code to the right.

    Of course, no blog post can tell you everything about this report! We know you have more questions and want to take action to change the situation.

    So, next Thursday—August 25, at 1:00 p.m. EDT—I will hold an online Twitter chat to answer all of your questions about the report. You can send your questions in advance to dcastillo@nclr.org, or just use the #KCDATA11 hashtag on the day of the chat to join the conversation. You can submit your questions in English or Spanish, too!
     


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    Are you concerned about debt bunnies? Does your vampire retirement keep you up at night? It might sound like a long shot, but financial entertainment could be the key to enticing individuals to tackle complex money concepts. We’ve all been there―lost in an addicting puzzle or game. Now gamers will be able to sharpen their personal knowledge while learning how to maximize their long-term earnings and avoid the pitfalls of high-interest debt.

    NCLR and the Doorways to Dreams (D2D) Fund have partnered to improve financial knowledge and confidence among American households. Through an online videogame platform, we are bringing a hybrid of entertainment and education to your computer screen. Today, we launched a national Farm Blitz tournament to engage our families in this exciting financial education. Join us!

    Here’s what you can do:

    Play and win prizes! Enter the Farm Blitz tournament for a chance to win a variety of awesome prizes! Simply register and play the game—one lucky grand prize winner will receive an Apple iPad 2! Ten players with the highest scores will each be awarded $50 gift cards, and 50 players will be randomly selected to win $25 gift cards! Read the tournament rules and description on the website and get started on the road to winning prizes, all the while beating back those hungry debt bunnies!

    Blog it! You can engage as a blogger by attending our blogger webinar this week on Thursday, August 18 at 11:30 a.m. EDT. Sign up here or contact dcastillo@nclr.org for more information.  Learn about the successes of this financial entertainment tool. Hear who in our households are most likely to play and win. NCLR and D2D experts will be available to answer questions, and if you post an entry on your blog and link back to us, we’ll be sure to repost it on NCLR’s blog.  


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    By Janis Bowdler, Deputy Director, Wealth Building Policy Project, NCLR

    Hispanic families are faring the worst during the current economic meltdown. According to a recent study released by the Pew Research Center, Latinos experienced the single largest decline in wealth of any other group. This development could severely alter the economic future of our nation as Hispanics will constitute more than a quarter of the U.S. population by 2050.

    The destruction of the housing market has set the upward mobility of the Latino community back by a generation or more. A home is the largest and most significant asset for most Americans, and homeownership was supposed to help our families save for retirement or send their children to college. Once stripped of this main asset, a great many Latinos and their children will struggle to join the middle class. Absent smart intervention, these families will take decades to recover from the financial blow.

    While many Americans have felt the harsh consequences of the housing crisis, the median wealth of Hispanic households fell by 66% from 2005 to 2009. By comparison, the median wealth of Whites fell by 16% over the same period. White wealth now outpaces that among Latinos by a staggering $18 to one. Unfortunately, much of the collective damage from the housing crisis was avoidable. Deceptive lenders looking for a quick profit actively pushed borrowers of color, as well as women, the elderly, and other underserved population segments, into needlessly risky, expensive mortgages. In fact, Latinos were 30% more likely than Whites to receive high-cost loans when buying their homes, despite qualifying for standard prime loans.

    The inaction of regulators in the years leading up to the housing market crash should serve as a cautionary tale for today. More than three years in to the crisis, families are still losing their homes at a record clip. The best way to stop housing values from plummeting further―and stabilize household balance sheets―is by keeping families in their homes.

    There are realistic solutions that we have yet to explore fully. For example, mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac owned or guaranteed roughly half of all outstanding mortgages in the United States in 2010 (including a significant portion of subprime mortgages) and they financed 63% of new mortgages that originated in that year. Their policies set the market, yet they have refused to implement basic foreclosure best practices, such as ensuring that a family is not foreclosed on at the same time the servicer is verifying their eligibility for a modification. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is urging Fannie and Freddie to join the U.S. Departments of the Treasury and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in extending 12 months of forbearance under HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) for unemployed homeowners. Without participation from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the Obama administration’s foreclosure prevention programs will not reach many of the families that most need assistance.

    We cannot afford to overlook the racial wealth gap or its consequences for our nation’s economy. If we act now, we can stop the bleeding in the housing market and concentrate on economic recovery for the hardest hit―the unemployed workers and vets, retirees, and communities of color. We have certainly not exhausted our options. Our leaders know it and we know it. The White House is already beginning to see that we should use more creativity in devising solutions to repair the housing market for all families. This fresh outlook must translate into action to bring about the systemic change this country truly needs.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org
    (202) 776-1812

     

    Washington, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) mourns the passing of Saul Solorzano, the President and longtime Executive Director of CARECEN (Central American Resource Center) in the District of Columbia.

    “Saul’s sudden and untimely passing is a profound loss to the community and to the city he loved so dearly. He was a fierce and dedicated champion for the Latino community both in Washington and in the nation. We will truly miss his wise counsel and support as one of the core leaders in NCLR’s Affiliate Network, especially in our ya es hora naturalization project and LEAP (Latino Empowerment and Advocacy Project) campaign,” stated Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

    “As one of the first generation of Central American organization leaders to come out of that community’s refugee movement of the 1980s, Saul recognized very early on the need for organizations such as CARECEN to expand their mission and work. Under his leadership, CARECEN evolved from a single-issue group to a highly respected institution serving the Latino community in a host of areas including housing, economic development, citizenship and legal services, and other social services,” Murguía continued.

    “Saul was very proud of his roots as a Salvadoran refugee, but he also came to love the city he called home. He was a strong advocate for the people of Washington, even running for a D.C. City Council seat earlier this year because he wanted to give a voice to those who all too often don’t have one. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his many friends, and colleagues as we also grieve for a friend we lost much too soon,” Murguía concluded.

     

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    (202) 776-1812
    jteixeira@nclr.org


    Washington, D.C.—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) praised the announcement made by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regarding important steps that the agency will be taking to better focus immigration enforcement resources to enhance public safety. Like all law enforcement agencies, DHS has limited resources that should be used in the most effective way possible, and the process outlined today will allow the department to focus on community safety.


    “This is a significant acknowledgment by DHS that it needs a process in place to focus on the people it has stated are its enforcement priority—people who have committed serious crimes and who pose a grave threat to public safety. Focusing on the greatest threats is just plain common sense when it comes to law enforcement,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.


    DHS announced that it has created a process that includes an interagency team of senior leaders in DHS and Department of Justice (DOJ) who will review the current deportation caseload and identify low-priority cases that should be considered for an exercise of discretion. The agency will also provide guidance to prevent resources from being spent on low-priority cases.


    “We will closely monitor the implementation of this process to ensure that it is applied robustly and that it brings public safety squarely into focus. Advocates across the country have been doing an incredible amount of work to share the countless stories of how the current policies are creating fear and suffering in communities nationwide. We are hopeful that this new action will bring us to a place where community safety is the focus of enforcement actions, and the pain felt in communities is diminished.


    “Programs such as Secure Communities have been extremely frustrating and confusing for many, including law enforcement and the immigrant community. This announcement today is an important step in the right direction to bring sorely needed direction and clarity in current policies. If executed correctly, the changes announced today will bring much-needed relief,” concluded Murguía.

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    By Jennifer Ng'andu, Deputy Director, Health Policy Project

    “Healthy eating is privilege of the rich,” proclaimed a recent Associated Press headline. The University of Washington study behind the article shows that what’s best for you is often what’s worst for your pocketbook. Researchers found that increasing just one of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) four recommended nutrients to meet the standards of the Thrifty Food Plan would cost more than $380 per year. Meanwhile, a grocery cart filled with the equivalent calories of unhealthy foods was likely to cost less than average. This evidence would come as no surprise to families interviewed by NCLR who reveal that it will take far more investment to keep excess sugar and fat out of the American diet.

    Take Emily, a native of San Antonio, Texas. A mother caring for three children, Emily believes that healthy eating is essential. In her interview with NCLR, Emily noted that it’s “not very easy” to find the food in her neighborhood that she’d like to prepare. The grocery store near her home doesn’t stock high-quality vegetables and fruits, and what’s for sale is more expensive than in other areas of town. Emily treks across her city for hours at a time to fill her kitchen cabinet.

    Imagine Emily’s predicament. It takes up to five hours of her day—her weekend—to get the shopping done: up to one hour to wait for the bus, an hour’s ride with several transfers to get to the store, time for purchasing goods, and time for the same route back. Once she returns home, there can be hours of preparation to get a meal on the table.

    At the store, Emily diligently compares prices and makes tradeoffs for quality and taste.

    “I always look at the price first. If it’s [a food] better looking, or whatever, I still look at the price. A lot of the stuff that my kids do like, like the raspberries, are kind of expensive for me, so I would skip that and just get bananas, oranges, and apples, just the basics…My kids, they told me that they liked the broccoli, the one that’s in the produce [section], and I would get frozen one because it’s cheaper. And they just told me, like, it tasted different…and I would still get it because it’s cheaper than in the produce section.”

    On weeks when her paychecks are especially low, she makes extra sacrifices.

    “That’s when I don’t look for the fruits and vegetables. I just get the meats and the stuff that [the children] need.”

    Situations like this make it easy to understand why convenience foods can become a natural choice—they are accessible and seem like less of an expense when accounting for the extra time and resources needed to get food on the table. There’s not one store within a mile of Emily that offers healthy fruits and vegetables, but she counts six or seven fast foods outlets on her street. Emily places a premium on serving healthy foods to her children, but harkens back to a time when it was easier not to:

    “I didn’t have time to cook at home and [fast food] was just there. And sometimes it was cheap. I would buy a burger for my kids, and they wouldn’t eat all of it, so I’d halve it and buy some fries and it would be two dollars for their meal.”

    Two dollars for a meal? I can’t remember the last time I paid two dollars for a meal.

    Emily’s sacrifices for a healthy diet have come with major successes, including significant weight loss within her family, but she is constantly searching for a solution that doesn’t take time away from caring for her kids or force her to choose food over bills. With the right investments, this nation can craft measures that make healthy choices easier.

    When making policy, we have to remember that it is not enough to build a grocery store; we must address the community that surrounds it. Emily was just one of the parents interviewed by NCLR who noted that unhealthy food is in your face while healthy foods are much harder to obtain. Mirroring Emily’s experience, one study in Rhode Island found that the vast majority of grocery stores in Hispanic neighborhoods didn’t even carry the foods recommended by the USDA. The ones that did have all of the recommended items priced them 40% higher than the national average for the same foods.

    National initiatives to address food deserts are commendable, but these efforts must ensure that outlets have healthy food that is affordable and accessible for the residents of their community. Policies must also acknowledge that “food swamps,” or places saturated with poor food options often create another barrier to a nourishing diet. Stimulating the development of and investment in neighborhoods where the total environment promotes healthy eating is essential in the everyday fight for the Emilys around the country to put wholesome meals on the table.

    For more news and resources about Latino families and nutrition, please visit NCLR’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Families web page at www.nclr.org/nutrition. Help us advocate for good food policy by sharing NCLR’s other blogs and stories of comer bien.


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    KIDSCOUNT Data Center

    Por Nayda Rivera-Hernández, Analista Sénior de Investigación, NCLR

    For the English version, click here.

    El deterioro del crédito, la caída de la bolsa y el estancamiento político han dominado el discurso público de este país últimamente. No cabe duda de que estos son temas importantes, pero no son los únicos que nos preocupan. Una de las historias menos exploradas es la difícil situación que enfrentan los niños en este clima económico particularmente duro. Los niños, que están entre las personas más vulnerables de nuestra sociedad, dependen de nosotros para que le demos estabilidad, salud y buena educación. En el libro de datos 2011 KIDS COUNT Data Book, la Fundación Annie E. Casey examina cómo les va a los niños y a las familias durante la crisis económica y relaciona las investigaciones sobre el éxito económico de las familias con la importancia de invertir en programas infantiles que fomenten el éxito de la próxima generación.

    Las perspectivas son especialmente desalentadoras para los niños de Puerto Rico. El informe muestra que los niños de Puerto Rico están muy por debajo de los niños de los Estados Unidos en los indicadores principales de bienestar infantil. Vea los indicadores pertinentes aquí. El informe también indica que los logros económicos y sociales alcanzados para beneficio de los niños durante la década de 1990 se estancaron incluso antes de comenzar la recesión económica.

    El informe revela lo siguiente:

    • En nueve de cada diez medidas esenciales de bienestar infantil, los niños en Puerto Rico enfrentan, en general, niveles más altos de riesgo que el niño promedio en los Estados Unidos.
    • La tasa de pobreza infantil para Puerto Rico (57%) es de casi tres veces el nivel que ocurre en los Estados Unidos (20%).
    • En comparación con todos los estados de los Estados Unidos, Puerto Rico tiene las tasas mayores de bebés con bajo peso al nacer (12.5%), de adolescentes que no asisten a la escuela ni trabajan (15%), de niños cuyos padres no tienen trabajo seguro (52%) y de niños en familias monoparentales (45%).
    • La tasa de mortalidad infantil en Puerto Rico (8.4 muertes por cada 1,000 bebés nacidos vivos) ha mejorado desde el año 2000.
    • La tasa de bebés nacidos a madres adolescentes en Puerto Rico (57 nacimientos por cada 1,000 mujeres entre las edades de 15 y 19 años) disminuyó un 24% entre 2000 y 2008.

    El Libro de Datos de este año informa un aumento de 18% en la tasa de pobreza infantil en los Estados Unidos entre 2000 y 2009. En general, esto significa que, hoy día, 2.5 millones más niños viven por debajo del nivel de pobreza federal ($21,756 para una familia de dos adultos y dos niños), lo que, en efecto, borra los logros alcanzados al final de la década de 1990 en esta importante medida.

    ¡Comparta esta información y participe en un chateo con NCLR en vivo por Twitter!

    Use la herramienta de KIDS COUNT Data Book (abajo) para averiguar más sobre el contenido del informe. La herramienta le permite seleccionar un estado y un indicador de bienestar infantil y ver los resultados al instante. Si está usando su smartphone, puede ver el sitio móvil de KIDS COUNT Data Book o escanear el código QR a la derecha.

    Por supuesto, ningún mensaje en el blog puede darle toda la información de este informe. Sabemos que tiene otras preguntas y que desea actuar para cambiar la situación.

    Así que el próximo jueves, 25 de agosto a la 1:00 p.m. horario de verano del este, realizaré un chateo por Twitter para responder todas sus preguntas sobre el informe. Puede enviar sus preguntas por adelantado a dcastillo@nclr.org, o simplemente usar el hashtag #kcdata11 el día del chateo para unirse a la conversación. Además, ¡puede enviar sus preguntas en inglés o en español! 


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