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    It has been 30 years since the first AIDS cases were reported, and it is estimated that 1.7 million people in the United States have been infected since then. Now, more than one million people in this nation are living with HIV or AIDS.

    ¿A Dónde Vamos? New Directions for Culturally Relevant Latino Community Involvement in HIV/AIDS Prevention and Services Research—a new report from the NCLR-Cal State University, Long Beach Center for Latino Community Health, Evaluation, and Leadership Training (NCLR-CSULB Center)—presents an extensive analysis of the growing HIV/AIDS crisis among Latinos. The picture is grim. Racial and ethnic minorities have been disproportionately affected by the epidemic, and they now represent the majority of new HIV infections, new AIDS diagnoses, people living with HIV/AIDS, and AIDS deaths.

    A quick look at some of the numbers in the report:

    • In 2009, Hispanics constituted 16% of the U.S. population, but accounted for about 19% of those diagnosed with HIV and 21% of those diagnosed with AID
    • In 2008, Latino men had twice the rate of HIV infection compared to White men; Latinas had five times the rate compared to White women.
    • Latinos are more likely (62%) than Blacks (57%) or Whites (32%) to receive HIV testing only at the most severe stage of the disease; they are also more likely to be diagnosed with AIDS within one year of their HIV diagnosis.

    Of particular note is that although HIV/AIDS affects Latinos all throughout the country, certain subgroups are at higher risk than others. Latino men who have sex with men (MSM) and men who have sex with men and women (MSMW) are especially vulnerable. That list also includes transgender Latinos, particularly male-to-female, as well as migrant workers. Studies have shown that Hispanics have the highest rates of unprotected male-to-male sexual contact. This is a significant problem among Latino immigrants, the report says, because acculturation and socialization into the United States is an important factor in sexual risk behavior. Contrary to what one might think, Latino men with greater acculturation are more liable to have a higher number of partners and engage in more substance abuse, making them more likely to engage in unsafe sex. Compounding all of the risks is prevalent homophobia in both mainstream and Hispanic cultures. This discrimination, as well as lack of access to prevention and testing resources, has no doubt contributed to the difficulty that Latino MSM and MSMW face in getting tested. The graph below (courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control.) further illustrates the rates of infection among male Hispanic adults and adolescents.

    The nation’s economic future depends on a Latino community that is healthy and thriving. Tailoring prevention and treatment strategies to meet the needs of the country’s largest and youngest minority group is critical to making sure that happens. To this end, ¿A Dónde Vamos? also includes recommendations for making HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment culturally sensitive to the Latino community. Doing so will help make certain that prevention activities, interventions, and treatments resonate with Hispanic communities and subgroups nationwide.

    For more information and to read the report, click here.


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  • 12/07/11--07:33: The 99% and Our Homes
  • By Nancy Wilberg-Ricks, Policy Analyst, Wealth-Building Policy Project, NCLR

    Tuesday, December 6, was the Occupy Our Homes National Day of Action during which participants joined a movement to stop wrongful foreclosures. This growing public response sends a message to the homeowner who up until now thought that he was alone in fighting to protect his home. This Occupy movement is helping families learn more about their consumer rights and how they might have a chance to reclaim their hard-earned investments.

    NCLR has long known the value of empowering America’s homeowners. For more than a decade it has deployed well-trained housing counselors to work as liaisons between prospective homebuyers, homeowners, and their lenders. Counselors have helped tens of thousands of families find responsible loans and avoid unsustainable terms. For many, a counselor’s guidance made all the difference in surviving the housing crisis.

    An informed consumer base can only do so much, though. The 99% needs principal reductions. Many even within the industry understand that this is a vital step that we must take to stabilize the market. This makes Ed DeMarco’s efforts that much more bewildering. Instead of trying to aid homeowners, DeMarco is seeking to expedite foreclosures. Such a head-in-sand approach is disturbing and pushes housing reform that much further out of our grasp.

    Something’s gotta give. Yesterday’s Occupy pledge to resist eviction and foreclosure auctions shed light on the dire need for deeper reform to stem the industry’s vast misconduct. The American public has grown tired of such tactics. If our leaders continue to stall recovery, voters will be sure to show their dissatisfaction at the polls.


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

    Washington, D.C.—In a show of deference to Wall Street banks and the financial industry, the Senate voted 53–45 to block President Obama’s nominee, Richard Cordray, to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). NCLR (National Council of La Raza) has supported the goals behind the creation of the CFPB from the beginning and is disappointed in the Senate for once again letting powerful special interests stand in the way of progress.

    “Today, the U.S. Senate failed to deliver on its promise to serve the American public,” said Janis Bowdler, Director of the Wealth-Building Policy Project at NCLR. “By failing to confirm Rich Cordray, a well-qualified nominee with bipartisan support from consumers, civil rights organizations, and business leaders, 45 senators chose to leave Latinos and all Americans vulnerable to the tricks of unregulated and deceptive lenders.”

    The CFPB is an independent agency charged with the mission of protecting consumers in the financial marketplace by ensuring that markets for consumer financial products and services are fair, transparent, and competitive.

    “The Latino community has not forgotten about the devious tactics that some in the consumer finance industry have resorted to in order to make exorbitant profits,” added Bowdler. “Those senators who voted against Cordray’s nomination know that without a director, the CFPB lacks full authority to supervise payday lenders, private student lenders, non-bank mortgage lenders, debt collection reporting agencies or other non-banks. Refusing to confirm Cordray is a blatant move to weaken the power of this agency, which was created to protect the American people from fraud and deception.”

    Despite the setback today, NCLR will continue to advocate on behalf of consumers, to fight powerful Wall Street lobbyists, and to push for the confirmation of Richard Cordray as director of the CFPB.

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

    Last month, California Attorney General Kamala Harris subpoenaed Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac for information on their foreclosure proceedings in her state. While it is too early to say what will come of the subpoena, Harris’ attention to the role of Fannie and Freddie in stemming our foreclosure crisis is a breath of fresh air.

    Fannie, Freddie, and their regulator―the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), led by Acting Director Ed DeMarco―have refused to implement widely accepted servicing best practices, such as stopping foreclosure proceedings until it can be determined whether a family is eligible for a modification or reducing principal balances. In fact, Fannie and Freddie actually fine banks that do not foreclose on homeowners quickly enough.

    DeMarco’s disregard for home-saving solutions has serious ramifications. Fannie and Freddie own the majority of loans processed by the largest servicers. For example, they are investors in 60% of the loans serviced by Bank of America and in two-thirds of the loans serviced by Wells Fargo. Since Fannie and Freddie own the loans, they dictate the terms on which servicers collect payments, offer modification, and start foreclosures.

    There is no question that the big banks can and should be doing more to save homes and pay for wrongful foreclosures; however, the FHFA’s firm stance against principal reduction and Fannie and Freddie’s demands for speedier foreclosures are working against the secure housing market Americans want. As Congressman Cummings recently pointed out, their policies may have actually contributed to the enduring robo-signing scandal. It is no wonder why the Occupy movement has, in many cases, become a family’s best hope for saving their homes.

    Fannie and Freddie’s conservatorship is untenable. Nevertheless, the situation is unlikely to change until the market stabilizes. Since servicers are under contract to implement the rules set by Fannie and Freddie, FHFA could do much more to leverage the two companies as positive forces in the housing market.

    Attorney General Harris gets it right: “If Mr. DeMarco is unwilling to support principal reduction for these home loans in crisis, he should step aside for someone who will.” DeMarco should be enforcing sound servicing practices and supporting every proven solution that saves homes and stabilizes neighborhoods. Harris’s investigation is a move toward greater transparency and accountability—something our country desperately needs to revive our housing market.  

    This was first posted on the Univision News Tumblr.


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    For Planning Purposes: Friday, December 9, 2011

    Contacts: Cheryl Aguilar 202-360-7867 (local); Donna De La Cruz 202-339-9331(national)


    IMMIGRANT AND CIVIL RIGHTS GROUPS JOIN TOGETHER TO REPEAL HB 56
    Freedom Riders, DREAM Students, Children’s March Part of Events

     

    MONTGOMERY, AL—Immigrant rights advocates and civil rights leaders from Alabama and across the country are working on repealing HB 56 during a summit hosted by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) Dec. 16-17.

    Attendees will fight to reverse HB 56, organize to block similar state bills around the country, and advance the cause of justice for all.

    As part of the national convening, Freedom Riders will join in dialogue with immigrant rights activists to discuss today’s struggle for immigrant rights. Additionally, leaders from civil, immigrant and labor rights organizations: NAACP, SEIU and NCLR will rally on Montgomery Capitol Steps and join a children’s march to Governor Bentley’s mansion under the banner: One Family, One Alabama: HB 56 Hurts All Alabamians. Children and families will deliver their wishes to Governor Bentley to call for an end to racial profiling, and to call for keeping families together and building a better Alabama.

    WHAT: Immigrant National Convention joined by hundreds of advocates from 20 states.

    Friday, December 16, at 7 pm

    Opening Plenary: Discussion on Freedom Rides and Today's Struggle for Immigrant Rights featuring:

    "C.T." Vivian, a 36-year-old Baptist minister from Howard, MO, Reverend Cordy was the oldest of the Nashville Freedom Riders.

    Catherine Burks, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL native, 21-year-old Catherine Burks was a student at Tennessee State University when she volunteered for the Nashville Movement Freedom Ride.

    Victor, a 19 year old from Alabama who has become a leader in the Alabama Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ACIJ) due to the impact that HB-56 is having on his life and family.

    Henry Fernandez, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

    Saturday, December 17; Rally at 10:30 a.m. and march at 11:30 a.m.

    Rally and March to Governor’s Mansion, Saturday, including:

    Ben Jealous, President, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

    Janet Murguía, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza, (NCLR)

    Mary Kay Henry, International President, Service Employee International Union (SEIU)

    Eliseo Medina, International Secretary Treasurer, Service Employee International Union (SEIU), and regional leaders

    WHERE: Immigrant National Convention at Renaissance Montgomery Hotel, 201 Tallapoosa Street, 
Montgomery, AL 36104
    Rally: Montgomery Capitol Steps; March to Governor Bentley's Mansion.

    For more information visit www.immigrantnationalconvention.org.


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    The Fair Immigration Reform Movement is a national coalition of organizations fighting for immigrant rights at the local, state and federal levels. FIRM first joined the fight against H.B. 56 by sending community organizers from around the country to support local communities affected by the law.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    (202) 776-1812

    Experts to discuss impact of information gap, potential remedies offered in report  

    Chicago—On Monday, December 12, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) and Enlace Chicago will convene a panel of leading juvenile justice experts at the DePaul University Steans Center to discuss the critical lack of information and data about Latino youth in Illinois’ juvenile justice system. The panel discussion coincides with the release of Counting Latino Youth in the Illinois Juvenile Justice System, a report authored by NCLR.

    The report details the inadequacy of information on Hispanic youth, who constitute one of the fastest-growing segments of the population, and highlights this lack of data as a major barrier to developing strategies and policies that can effectively prevent young Latinos from becoming caught up in the justice system. Panelists will discuss the problems posed by the insufficient data and review recommendations offered in the report.

    MEDIA ADVISORY

    WHO: 
    Maricela Garcia, Director of Capacity-Building, NCLR
    Michael D. Rodriguez, Executive Director, Enlace Chicago
    Sen. Mattie Hunter, D-Chicago, author of Racial and Ethnic Impact Research Task Force Act
    Julie Biehl, Director, Children and Family Justice Center at Northwestern University Law School
    Layla Suleiman Gonzalez, Director, Strategic Planning and Performance, Illinois Department of Human Services

    WHAT: Panel Discussion on Counting Latino Youth in the Illinois Juvenile Justice System

    WHEN: Monday, December 12, 2011, 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. CST

    WHERE: DePaul University Steans Center
    1 East Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, IL. 60604

    TO COVER: Please contact Julian Teixeira at jteixeira@nclr.org, or call (202) 776-1812

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.                         

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  • 12/12/11--10:39: Stand for Freedom
  • Over the weekend, NCLR joined thousands of Americans in New York City at the Stand for Freedom rally to protest the rise of voter suppression laws all across the country. Below is the speech NCLR's Rafael Collazo gave to rally participants.

    Today’s organized effort to suppress minority voting rights strikes at the core of our most basic and treasured American values. This nation, built upon the strength, effort, and ingenuity of the millions of immigrants who came here to seek a better life, cannot allow an intolerant few to erase decades of work and sacrifice to achieve equal rights. While those pushing to stem the voting rights of minorities have attempted to disguise their effort under the cloak of ‘preventing fraud’, we know better. That is why it is critical that we are standing here today, united, in one voice, to let the American people know that this very organized and well-funded effort to attack one of our most valued freedoms must be stopped.

    For years pundits and pollsters have referred to Latinos as the ‘sleeping giant’; an electorate that has enormous potential, but that has come short of realizing it at the ballot box. Recent census figures indicate that the ‘sleeping giant’ has gotten even larger and we have seen how that growth in population is also translating into a growth in influence in politics and policy in every corner of our great nation; the sleeping giant is most certainly awakening. The National Council of La Raza has played a critical role in encouraging Latino civic engagement, helping to register, educate, organize, and turnout Latino voters and we will continue to push forward with that effort, undaunted. But we must face the reality, that if allowed to remain on the books, many of these laws will make our work much more difficult and costly. Requirements on voter identification, the reduction of early voting days, address change requirements and other such measures will directly affect Latino voter registration numbers and turnout, and that is what they are banking on.

    So today, on International Human Rights Day, we ask you to join us to help protect our right to vote; petition your local leadership, organize your communities, call on our national government to ensure that we do not allow the proponents of these measures  


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    Many in Congress have been silent on the issue of voter suppression laws, but one senator has made it his mission to expose them for what they are: the thinly veiled disenfranchisement of minority populations. Today, Sen. Bill Nelson (D–Fla.) announced that he will hold a Senate field hearing to find out whether states have enacted laws to suppress voter turnout. The announcement comes on the heels of his request last month for Attorney General Eric Holder to open an investigation into whether the law in Florida (HB 1355)—and similar laws in more than a dozen other states—is part of a larger effort to suppress voter turnout among minorities and senior citizens in the 2012 general election. The hearing is scheduled for January 27, 2012 in Tampa. 

    In a press release, Nelson’s office outlined some of the reasons for holding this hearing:

    Since its passage earlier this year, the law in Florida already has resulted in the nonpartisan Florida League of Women Voters abandoning its voter registration drive after 72 years. And two high school teachers have run afoul of the law after trying to preregister some of their students.

    Among other changes, the law reduces the time for early voting in Florida from 14 days to eight and requires voters who want to give a new county address at the polls to use a type of ballot less likely to be counted. Seniors like early voting and college students change their addresses frequently. The law also requires those who sign up new voters to first register with the state and then submit all voter applications within 48 hours. It subjects people like the schoolteachers to hefty fines even for inadvertent mistakes.

    NCLR supports Sen. Nelson’s efforts to quash voter suppression laws. Earlier this year, we joined the League of Women Voters in filing an intervening motion to prevent the implementation of several similar provisions. In a blog post on the subject, NCLR Vice President Eric Rodriguez explained that, “if [the law is] allowed to go into effect, millions of Hispanic and other minority voters across the state will become disenfranchised. Florida’s example is likely one to be duplicated in other states, creating a dangerous precedent that is likely to scale back some of the progress we’ve fought so hard for as a nation, over the last half of a century.”

    Addressing these laws now is critical as the 2012 election is in full swing. NCLR is working hard to help Sen. Nelson and other groups shed light on what is happening to voter rights. Over the weekend, we joined several civil rights groups at the Stand for Freedom voting rights rally in New York City. Thousands filled the streets to protest what many believe to be the most aggressive attempt to roll back voter rights in more than a century. The full text of the speech that NCLR’s Rafael Collazo gave to rally participants is available here. You can also check out a short video of highlights of the rally.

    Click here for more information about NCLR’s civic engagement initiative.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    (202) 776-1812

    New Report Focuses on Youth in Illinois Juvenile Justice System

    Chicago—According to a study released today by NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Illinois’ law enforcement and courts collect far too little statistical information about Latino youth in the state’s juvenile justice system to implement policy changes and preventative strategies that would reduce the numbers of Latino ensnared in the system.

    Counting Latino Youth in the Illinois Juvenile Justice System details the inadequacy of information collected about young Latinos, who comprise one of the fastest growing segments of the state’s population. The report offers the state a number of recommendations for how to improve data collection and how to use that data to bolster services to the Hispanic community.

    “The lack of accurate data on Latino youth in the Illinois juvenile justice system is harmful to the entire state,” said Michael Rodriquez, Executive Director, Enlace Chicago. “We need reliable data to evaluate every point in the system and to see where it is best to commit limited, but much valued, resources. That way, we can intensify our efforts so that we can better intervene and work with Latino youth.”
    Between 2000 and 2009, the number of Hispanics younger than age 18 in Illinois jumped 21.5 percent. Unfortunately there is no reliable count on the number of Hispanic youth caught in the juvenile justice system. And, most of the available information is inaccurate because Hispanics are often lumped into the White, Black or “Other” categories.

    According to the study, the available data—rendering Hispanics virtually invisible—cannot adequately guide policymakers and practitioners through the creation, implementation, and evaluation of more effective preventative policies.

    “The information problems often begin at the first point a Latino youth comes in contact with a police officer,” said Maricela Garcia, NCLR’s Director of Capacity-Building. “Police forms frequently list the ethnicities of ‘Latino’ or ‘Hispanic’ as a race option, but neither is a race category.

    The report suggests that authorities should ask a two-part question. They first part should ask whether the person is Hispanic/Latino. After receiving a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response, they should ask the person’s race without allowing Hispanic/Latino as a possible answer, she advises.

    The report also recommends making collected information available to the public on a computerized database, funding five local pilot projects to improve data collection, and implementing reforms based on needs identified from the data collected.

    “Accurate data is the first step in understanding who the juvenile justice system serves and ensuring the most effective policies and programs are implemented,” said Lisa Jacobs, Program Manager, Illinois Models for Change. “Illinois has always been a leader in juvenile justice, but we can do more to guarantee that our system functions. Good data is an important component of good decision-making.”

    Read the complete findings and recommendations of “Counting Latino Youth in the Illinois Juvenile Justice System.”

    The report was created with the assistance of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Models for Change Juvenile Justice System Reform Initiative.

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    Washington—The U.S. Supreme Court today agreed to review Arizona’s draconian anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, after an earlier ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit blocked the most controversial provisions in the law. NCLR (National Council of La Raza) hopes that by intervening in this case, the Supreme Court will affirm that the federal government is responsible for immigration enforcement and that states do not have the right to usurp that authority by establishing their own immigration laws.

    “While it is incredibly frustrating that many in Congress refuse to act on a solution to help fix our broken immigration system, immigration enforcement is unquestionably the responsibility of the federal government,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR. “Permitting every state to establish their own immigration system not only fails to solve the problem, it also has seriously harmful effects on their economies, on their image, and on the civil rights of their residents. The U.S. Supreme Court should rule against Arizona to once and for all put an end to this complicated and foolish patchwork of immigration policies that is taking root across this country.”

    “The only logical solution to this problem is comprehensive immigration reform enacted at the federal level,” added Murguía. “Congress has repeatedly chosen not to act, though, prompting state legislatures to try to handle this issue on their own with devastating consequences. A ruling from the Supreme Court striking down these anti-immigrant state laws could be the catalyst we need to finally see movement on immigration reform.”

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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  • 12/13/11--08:02: My Holiday Wish List
  • By Janis Bowdler, Director, Wealth-Building Policy Project, NCLR

    The holiday season is a time when we express our lofty wishes and set new resolutions for personal improvement, but there is nothing lofty about my holiday wish list this year. It is pragmatic and reasonable; better yet, it will not cost taxpayers a dime.

    According to new research from the Center for Responsible Lending, 635,000 Latino families have already lost their homes—so have 397,000 Black and 1.5 million White families. Three years into the foreclosure crisis, and there is no end in sight. Americans still seek relief.

    Our policymakers can take concrete steps immediately to improve the housing market and keep families in their homes. Here is my list:

    • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac embrace proven home-saving solutions. Fannie and Freddie fine banks for pursuing foreclosure too slowly and refuse to write down principal balances for deserving homeowners. Much of this is at the behest of their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Administration, headed by Acting Director Ed DeMarco. Fannie and Freddie control so many of our nation’s mortgages; there will be little relief for the housing market until they get on board.
       
    • A director for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Forty-five Republican senators voted to block Richard Cordray’s nomination as the CFPB director on Thursday, December 8. By doing so, they effectively empowered payday lenders, private student lenders, non-bank mortgage lenders, and debt collection agencies to continue targeting middle-class pocketbooks unchecked.
       
    • Justice for the wrongfully foreclosed. More than a year ago the robo-signing scandal was uncovered; untold numbers of homeowners were shuffled into unwarranted foreclosure. The American public has seen no one reprimanded for this gross unlawful misconduct. That is inexcusable. One federal bank overseer, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, has settled with national servicers under their supervision. However, the process is so opaque and terms are so vague it’s hard to believe justice will be served. Families need true relief: accountability for wrongful foreclosures, restitution for robo-signing victims, principal reduction, and an outreach and enforcement system that works. 

    Many of our families have given up. They have lost faith in dysfunctional housing programs and servicers and feel they have no recourse for their losses. In a recent visit with housing counselors in Los Angeles, California Attorney General (AG) Kamala Harris said she was on a “truth-seeking mission” to hold financial institutions accountable for robbing families of their homes. While weary homeowners are tired of bold promises that do not translate into equally bold action, AG Harris has given us a reason to be cautiously optimistic by partnering with Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto to investigate mortgage fraud and misconduct. Their announcement comes on the heels of Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley’s lawsuit against the nation’s five largest lenders, which has also inspired hope among the residents of her state.

    These efforts are critical and inspirational, but they won’t be enough. None of the solutions on my list will cost taxpayers money. But they will require President Obama to use his bully pulpit to put homeowners ahead of special interests. He should fight harder for our families, and start by pushing through Cordray’s nomination. Cordray is a well-qualified nominee with bipartisan support who can offer true relief. The president must also rein in Ed DeMarco, whose brazen refusal to employ home-saving solutions has no place in the Obama Administration. Here’s to a brighter 2012


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

    Congressional Leaders Seek to Provide Tax Relief for the Middle Class by Increasing the Tax Burden on Hardworking Immigrants Raising Children

    Washington, D.C.—As Congress scrambles to pass a tax package before the end of the year, Republican lawmakers in the House of Representatives have proposed prohibiting eligible immigrant taxpayers from receiving a refundable Child Tax Credit in order to pay for their tax relief plan. NCLR (National Council of La Raza) supports middle-class tax relief but is outraged that congressional leaders would pay for it by taking $9 billion out of the pockets of hardworking and mostly poor immigrants who are raising families. The House proposal would affect two million families, driving them deeper into poverty.

    “We support congressional efforts to pass tax relief and believe that there are many ways to pay for it that do not result in harming some of the most economically vulnerable families across the nation,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at NCLR. “The Child Tax Credit is probably one of the most effective ways to provide relief to workers raising children, and the refundable credit is even more critical to workers earning low wages. It’s outrageous that of all the options that lawmakers have on the table to pay for tax relief, this is the one that they would choose.”

    The Republican tax plan aims to change the Child Tax Credit law by preventing immigrants who use an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) from collecting the refundable Child Tax Credit. ITINs are commonly used by immigrants who lack a Social Security Number to pay the income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes that they owe. In 2010, ITIN tax filers paid more than $9 billion in payroll taxes to support Social Security and Medicare.

    More than 70 percent of families who use the refundable Child Tax Credit earn less than $30,000 per year, and 63 percent earn less than $25,000 per year. Thus, the financial harm from this provision will fall on families who earn less than $12 to $15 dollars per hour and who are raising children.

    The Census Bureau recently published the Supplemental Poverty Line showing that millions more live in poverty in the U.S. than was previously known. Poverty among Hispanics was distinctly higher in part because many in the community are unlikely to use important anti-poverty programs like nutrition assistance. One of the most effective anti-poverty programs that is open to hardworking immigrant families raising citizen children is the Child Tax Credit. Closing off this source of assistance for low-income, working families will drive poverty levels in this country even higher.

    NCLR urges Congress to pass a tax relief plan that is fair and does no harm to hardworking immigrants and their families.

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    In yet another disappointing vote for the Latino community, the U.S. Senate voted 49–37 to block the nomination of President Obama’s nominee, Mari Carmen Aponte, to serve as ambassador to El Salvador. Leading the charge against Aponte were Senate Republicans who expressed concern over a past relationship and her support for LGBT rights. Aponte was already serving as our nation’s ambassador to El Salvador, but senators voted on her reappointment as President Obama appointed her during a Congressional recess. Sen. Harry Reid (D–Nev.) said Aponte may get another vote before the end of the year, but that seems unlikely given the ambitious amount of work Congress wants to get through.

    Aponte boasts an impressive resume and countless accolades. In a press release, the National Hispana Leadership Institute outlined her many accomplishments.

    • As El Salvador’s fragile democracy continues to recover from the legacy of civil war, Ambassador Aponte has had a unique ability to bring old foes together and soothe tensions, keeping the peace and democracy on track.
    • Ambassador Aponte negotiated an agreement between the U.S. and Salvadoran governments to on a comprehensive Partnership for Growth Joint Action Plan, that will promote economic growth and transparency in El Salvador.
    • Following a tense, two-month constitutional crisis, Ambassador Aponte invited Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor to El Salvador to emphasize the need for dialogue, which helped break an impasse that threatened to paralyze the country.
    • Ambassador Aponte has been a strong U.S. presence, promoting democracy and human rights, and challenging influences from the governments of Cuba and Venezuela.
    • Ambassador Aponte secured the deployment of Salvadoran troops to Afghanistan. El Salvador is the first and only Latin American country to contribute troops to the U.S.-led NATO mission there.
    • Reaching out to private sector leaders, Ambassador Aponte has helped find business opportunities for American and Salvadoran companies alike. 

    It is unfortunate that this impressive list was not enough for 49 senators. NCLR is very disappointed that that this group chose to prevent this talented Latina from continuing to serve her country in favor of scoring political points against the president. It is especially deplorable that senators chose to use her support for equality as reason for blocking her nomination. The Senate missed a prime opportunity to show its support for the Latino community last night and voters will remember this next November.


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    By Eric Rodriguez, Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR

    For several months, we have been bracing for an attack on immigrant families who earn the Child Tax Credit. Over the past few days, Republican lawmakers have made clear that no matter is too urgent or too serious for them to resist going back to the anti-immigrant playbook to score political points. This time, in what should be a straightforward order of business for Congress to complete before the holidays—extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits—they have gone out of their way to hurt citizen children of immigrants through unprecedented changes to the tax law.

    On Friday, December 9, 2011, House Republicans introduced a tax plan that includes a provision (H.R. 3630, Section 5201) to prevent immigrant families from accessing the refundable Child Tax Credit. The House passed this tax plan, including the anti-immigrant provision, on Tuesday, December 13. The proposal would affect two million families, driving them deeper into poverty. Moreover, four million children who will be hurt by the Republican tax provision are U.S. citizens. NCLR supports the extension of the payroll tax cut, but is outraged that congressional leaders would pay for it by taking $9 billion out of the pockets of hardworking and mostly poor immigrants who are raising families.

    Now we are fighting to prevent the House Republicans’ provision from becoming part of the final tax package that Congress must pass in the coming days. Click here to send a letter to your senators urging them to exclude this harmful provision.

    Here’s the background on this issue: signs of trouble began this past summer when the Inspector General from the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a misleading report insinuating that there was something amiss with eligible immigrants receiving the refundable Child Tax Credit. The report focused on people who pay their taxes using an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). ITINs are commonly used by immigrants who lack a Social Security number so that they can pay their share of income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes. In 2010, ITIN tax filers paid more than $9 billion in payroll taxes to support Social Security and Medicare.

    As clarified by IRS experts at a congressional hearing on this issue, it is legal for ITIN taxpayers to receive the refundable Child Tax Credit if they meet the eligibility requirements for the tax credit. The Republican tax plan would make this illegal by requiring that recipients of the refundable credit have a Social Security number.

    Worse yet, the House tax bill targets only the families who are eligible for the refundable part of the Child Tax Credit—in other words, it inflicts pain on the poorest families. Sixty-three percent of families who use the refundable Child Tax Credit earn less than $25,000 per year. Almost half of the financial harm from this provision will fall on workers who are raising children on hourly wages of $10 or less.

    The Child Tax Credit is one of the most effective anti-poverty tools for working families in this country. It helps families who are working hard at low-paying jobs to survive and have enough income to raise the next generation of Americans. It is one of the only anti-poverty programs that is open to immigrant families. Closing off this source of assistance for low-income, working families will drive poverty levels in this country even higher.

    NCLR urges Congress to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut that is fair and does not harm hardworking immigrants and their families. Add your voice to support for the Child Tax Credit, and click here to send a letter to your senators urging them to exclude this harmful provision.
     


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    By Leticia Miranda, Deputy Director, Economic and Employment Policy Project, NCLR

    For several months, we have been bracing for an attack on immigrant families who earn the Child Tax Credit. Over the past few days, Republican lawmakers have made clear that no matter is too urgent or too serious for them to resist going back to the anti-immigrant playbook to score political points. This time, in what should be a straightforward order of business for Congress to complete before the holidays—extending the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits—they have gone out of their way to hurt citizen children of immigrants through unprecedented changes to the tax law.

    On Friday, December 9, 2011, House Republicans introduced a tax plan that includes a provision (H.R. 3630, Section 5201) to prevent immigrant families from accessing the refundable Child Tax Credit. The House passed this tax plan, including the anti-immigrant provision, on Tuesday, December 13. The proposal would affect two million families, driving them deeper into poverty. Moreover, four million children who will be hurt by the Republican tax provision are U.S. citizens. NCLR supports the extension of the payroll tax cut, but is outraged that congressional leaders would pay for it by taking $9 billion out of the pockets of hardworking and mostly poor immigrants who are raising families.

    Now we are fighting to prevent the House Republicans’ provision from becoming part of the final tax package that Congress must pass in the coming days. Click here to send a letter to your senators urging them to exclude this harmful provision.

    Here’s the background on this issue: signs of trouble began this past summer when the Inspector General from the U.S. Department of the Treasury issued a misleading report insinuating that there was something amiss with eligible immigrants receiving the refundable Child Tax Credit. The report focused on people who pay their taxes using an ITIN (Individual Taxpayer Identification Number). ITINs are commonly used by immigrants who lack a Social Security number so that they can pay their share of income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes. In 2010, ITIN tax filers paid more than $9 billion in payroll taxes to support Social Security and Medicare.

    As clarified by IRS experts at a congressional hearing on this issue, it is legal for ITIN taxpayers to receive the refundable Child Tax Credit if they meet the eligibility requirements for the tax credit. The Republican tax plan would make this illegal by requiring that recipients of the refundable credit have a Social Security number.

    Worse yet, the House tax bill targets only the families who are eligible for the refundable part of the Child Tax Credit—in other words, it inflicts pain on the poorest families. Sixty-three percent of families who use the refundable Child Tax Credit earn less than $25,000 per year. Almost half of the financial harm from this provision will fall on workers who are raising children on hourly wages of $10 or less.

    The Child Tax Credit is one of the most effective anti-poverty tools for working families in this country. It helps families who are working hard at low-paying jobs to survive and have enough income to raise the next generation of Americans. It is one of the only anti-poverty programs that is open to immigrant families. Closing off this source of assistance for low-income, working families will drive poverty levels in this country even higher.

    NCLR urges Congress to pass an extension of the payroll tax cut that is fair and does not harm hardworking immigrants and their families. Add your voice to support for the Child Tax Credit, and click here to send a letter to your senators urging them to exclude this harmful provision.
     


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


    LÍDERES DEL CONGRESO SE EMPEÑAN EN OFRECER DESGRAVACIONES FISCALES PARA LA CLASE MEDIA AUMENTANDO LA CARGA IMPOSITIVA SOBRE LOS TRABAJADORES INMIGRANTES CON FAMILIAS


    Washington, D.C.— Mientras el Congreso se empeña en aprobar un paquete tributario antes de fin de año, la propuesta de los legisladores republicanos de la Cámara de Representantes consiste en prohibir que los contribuyentes inmigrantes habilitados reciban un Crédito Tributario por Hijo reintegrable para pagar el plan de desgravación fiscal que proponen. El Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés) apoya la desgravación fiscal para la clase media, pero considera indignante que los líderes congresistas la financien mediante la quita de $ 9 mil millones de dólares de los ingresos de los trabajadores inmigrantes, en su mayoría pobres, que tienen familias a su cargo. La propuesta de la Cámara afectaría a dos millones de familias, empeorando más aún su ya precaria situación.

    Eric Rodríguez, vicepresidente de la Oficina de Investigación, Defensa y Legislación del NCLR dijo: "Apoyamos los esfuerzos del Congreso por aprobar las desgravaciones fiscales y creemos que hay muchas maneras de financiarlas sin perjudicar a algunos de los sectores familiares económicamente más vulnerables del país. El Crédito Tributario por Hijo es quizá uno de los medios más efectivos para aliviar a los trabajadores con cargas familiares, y el crédito reintegrable es más crucial aún para los trabajadores de bajo ingreso. Es oprobioso que, de todas las opciones que tienen los legisladores en consideración para financiar la rebaja tributaria, ésta sea la que hayan de elegir".

    El plan fiscal de los republicanos apunta a cambiar la ley de Crédito Tributario por Hijo impidiendo que los inmigrantes que usan un Número de Identificación de Contribuyente Individual (ITIN, por sus siglas en inglés) tengan derecho a cobrar el reintegro del Crédito Tributario por Hijo. Por lo general los inmigrantes que no tienen un Número de Seguro Social para pagar los impuestos sobre el ingreso, Seguro Social y Medicare usan el ITIN. En 2010 estos contribuyentes pagaron más de $ 9 mil millones de dólares en impuestos sobre la nómina salarial para sostener el Seguro Social y Medicare.

    Más del 70 por ciento de las familias que utilizan el Crédito Tributario por Hijo reintegrable ganan menos de $ 30.000 por año, y el 63 por ciento gana menos de $ 25.000 por año. Por lo tanto, los perjuicios económicos de esta disposición recaerán sobre familias que ganan menos de $ 12 a $ 15 dólares por hora y que están criando sus hijos.

    La Oficina del Censo ha publicado recientemente un Nivel de Pobreza suplemental donde se muestra que hay en los EE.UU. millones más de personas que viven en la pobreza de lo que antes se creía. La pobreza entre los hispanos fue notoriamente mayor, en parte porque muchos miembros de la comunidad no recurren por lo general a los programas de lucha contra la pobreza, por ejemplo los programas de asistencia nutricional. Uno de los programas más eficaces apunta a ayudar a las familias inmigrantes trabajadoras con hijos estadounidenses a través del Crédito Tributario por Hijo. Si se suspende este recurso para las familias de bajos ingresos, se elevarán aún más los niveles de pobreza de este país.

    El CNLR insta al Congreso a que apruebe un plan de reducción de impuestos que sea justo y no perjudique a los trabajadores inmigrantes y a sus familias.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    NCLR applauds DOJ and DHS for taking quick action to address alarming findings

    Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today hailed the swift response of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Home Security (DHS) following the release of DOJ’s findings in its ongoing civil rights investigation of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). The department said it has reason to believe that under the leadership of Sheriff Joe Arpaio, MCSO has engaged in a pattern of unconstitutional conduct that violates federal law, confirming that MCSO’s practices unfairly target and discriminate against Latinos. In response, DHS announced that it was terminating its 287(g) agreement with Sheriff Arpaio’s office, effective immediately.

    “Today’s findings cement the fact that Arpaio is not ‘the nation’s toughest sheriff,’ he’s America’s worst sheriff. Clearly, MCSO has not fulfilled its duty to the residents of Maricopa County—to protect their civil rights and to keep them safe—and this has come at an especially high cost to Latinos,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR.

    “Thanks to the diligent work of Thomas E. Perez, the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, a much-needed spotlight has been shined on the appalling injustices that have not only been authorized, but also encouraged by Sheriff Arpaio. We also commend Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano’s long-overdue decision to end the department’s agreement with MCSO. These are key steps to ending the demonization and dehumanization of Latinos and others in this county,” continued Murguía.

    Among the results of this investigation, DOJ found reasonable cause to believe that MCSO has engaged in discriminatory policing practices, including unlawful stops, detentions, and arrests of Hispanics, and discriminatory jail practices against Hispanic inmates who speak limited English by punishing them and denying them critical services. MCSO also engaged in retaliation against individuals who criticized MCSO’s policies and practices, such as its discriminatory treatment of Latinos.

    The Department of Justice indicated that it is seeking a court-enforceable agreement and will attempt to work with MCSO to develop and implement a comprehensive reform plan with the judicial oversight needed to address the violations of the Constitution and federal law.

    “As a life-long resident of Arizona, I completely agree with Mr. Perez’s concerns that the community has built up a completely justified wall of mistrust against MCSO over years, which seriously calls into question their ability to adequately serve and protect the residents of Maricopa County. This is unacceptable. The public safety of all Arizonans depends on a relationship of trust between communities and law enforcement,” added Daniel Ortega, a Phoenix attorney and NCLR’s Board Chair. “We welcome change and support DOJ’s commitment to either implementing reform or taking legal action against MCSO should they choose to continue down their misguided path.”

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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    NCLR is incredibly proud of everybody who rallied alongside us in Montgomery over the weekend to protest Alabama’s hateful anti-immigrant law, SB 56. Thousands of people from across the nation took part in the rally, along with NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía, as well as leaders from various civil rights and labor organizations such NAACP and SEIU. Protesters reminded Alabama lawmakers that we are “one family” and that supporting hateful and divisive laws will not be tolerated. The Governor of Alabama, Robert Bentley, has already indicated that parts of the law will need to be changed. But NCLR, along with the thousands who came out to protest, will not stop fighting SB 56 until it is fully repealed. Check out this slideshow from the event.


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

    Washington, D.C.—Earlier today, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with Countrywide Financial Corp. over numerous violations of fair lending laws. NCLR (National Council of La Raza) applauds DOJ for holding Countrywide accountable for misleading thousands of homeowners and steering unsuspecting families to risky and expensive home loans.

    “This historic settlement sends a powerful message that financial institutions will be held accountable for targeting communities of color with unfair practices that have led to needless foreclosures,” said Janis Bowdler, Director of the Wealth-Building Policy Project at NCLR. “The findings in DOJ’s investigation echo what we’ve been saying for years—deceptive lenders willfully preyed on Latinos and other minority borrowers, steering them to subprime mortgages even when they had good credit. Without a doubt, Countrywide and other predatory lenders share a great deal of the blame for the financial meltdown and the ensuing foreclosure crisis.”

    According to the Center for Responsible Lending, borrowers of color were more than twice as likely to receive subprime loans as White borrowers, even after controlling for credit and other risk factors. Unsurprisingly, minority homeowners have been disproportionately affected by the foreclosure crisis. Approximately 17% of Hispanic homeowners have or are expected to lose their homes.

    To its credit, Bank of America—which was not named in the investigation—immediately shut down Countrywide’s harmful practices when it acquired the company in 2008.

    This is the largest fair lending settlement ever secured by the Justice Department. An estimated two-thirds of the victims in this investigation are Latinos.

    “For the thousands of families that have lost their homes at the hands of predatory lenders, this settlement is a welcome and much-deserved Christmas present,” added Bowdler. “We hope this is the first of a series of enforcement actions by the Obama administration to hold predatory lenders accountable.”

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    Last week, NCLR hailed the $335 million settlement reached between and Countrywide Financial Corporation over violations of fair lending laws. It was the largest residential fair-lending settlement in history. Now that a settlement has been reached, it is up to the Department of Justice to start locating the victims of Countrywide’s practices. This may be one of the most difficult tasks yet, as those who were the hardest hit are often the most difficult to find.

    From The Wall Street Journal:

    Minority borrowers who suffered the greatest harm from Countrywide’s allegedly discriminatory mortgage-lending practices could be the most difficult to locate, observers say, because they are the victims most likely to have lost their homes to foreclosure and subsequently moved several times.

    “It’s going to be really difficult to find those families,” said Janis Bowdler, a policy director at National Council of La Raza, a Latino civil-rights group.

    The landmark case is also the first by the Justice Department that accuses a lender of steering borrowers to more costly mortgages, creating novel and possibly difficult questions on setting monetary payments for some victims. For example, how should the government compensate a family that both lost its home and was unfairly steered into a more costly subprime loan?

    If past settlements are any indication, finding the victims could take a couple of years. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reached its own settlement with Countrywide last year for $108 million. Eighteen months later, the FTC still has about 25% of the funds from the settlement because it can’t find people.

    Justice department officials say they are confident that they can locate all the victims, but caution that it will take some time.


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