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    Today is Iowa Caucus Day. It is the first presidential contest in the nation and since the GOP race is heating up, the news coverage of the contest has focused solely on the contenders vying for that party’s nomination. It should be noted, however, that President Obama is also on the Iowa ballot. Since he has no opposition in the race for the nomination, he’ll instead address the Democratic caucuses around the state via live stream, answering questions from Iowa Democrats.

    As Iowans make their way to the caucuses later this evening, we thought it would be helpful for NCLR supporters to know where each of the candidates stand on some of the issues most important to Latinos: immigration, education, and jobs. Below are the candidates’ stated positions on each of these important issues. Enjoy, and if you’re an Iowa voter, happy Caucus Day!

      Immigration (Thinkprogress.org) Education (HuffingtonPost.com) Jobs (NationalJournal.com)

    Michele Bachmann 
    Representative from Minnesota

    Opposes immigration reform; supports strong border security; supports mass deportations; supports state and local immigration laws such as SB 1070 and HB 56
     
    Critical of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), says “created a classroom environment of ‘teaching to the test,’ a one-size-fits-all approach to learning that does not work well for every student.” Co-sponsor of a bill that would let states develop their own curricula; supports abolishing U.S. Dept. of Education
     
    Says Mr. Obama’s job creation record is “abysmal,” and most egregious is the level of government spending and debt, a weakened dollar, a “threat of new tax increases,” and the “burdens” on small businesses imposed by “Obamacare”; supports elimination of IRS and “counterproductive” federal regulations, and says she would push for lower taxes
    Newt Gingrich
    Former Speaker of the House
     
    Partially supports immigration reform; supports strong border security; partially supports mass deportation, says families that have been here for several decades should not be deported; supports SB 1070–like laws; supports military provision of the “DREAM Act” Supports reducing role of Dept. of Education down to a “research and reporting agency;” opposes the Common Core State Standards; supports a Pell grant–type system for K–12 education To create an “atmosphere conducive to job creation,” Gingrich supports an optional 15% flat tax that keeps deductions for charitable giving and homeownership and supports a personal deduction of $12,000; would eliminate capital gains tax and cut the corporate income tax to 12.5%; would push to repeal laws related to financial regulations and to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency in favor of a new agency 
    Jon Huntsman
    Former Governor of Utah
     
    Partially supports immigration reform—says change is needed with regards to work visas; supports strong border security; opposes mass deportations; supports SB 1070-type laws; supports the “DREAM Act” Opposes NCLB, says control needs to be “restored” to the local level; supports vouchers Supports major tax reform along the lines of Pres. Reagan’s 1986 tax reform package; would simplify the tax code by eliminating all deductions and credits in favor of three rates, and eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends 

    Ron Paul
    Representative from Texas

     

    Supports partial immigration reform, says more efficiency is needed at the border; supports strong border security, but stops short of supporting a border-long fence; opposes mass deportation; has not stated an opinion on the “DREAM Act” Supports elimination of the Dept. of Education; opposes NCLB; homeschool champion; supports tax credits for parents who home-school; does not support government assistance for higher education
     
    Strong opponent of monetary policy; supports abolition of the Federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard; calls the 2008 stimulus bill an “excuse to expand government intervention and power on an unprecedented level”; believes government destroys jobs, and says markets are the only bodies that create jobs

    Rick Perry
    Governor of Texas

     

    Supports partial immigration reform, but stops short of amnesty; supporter of strong border security; supports mass deportations; supports SB 1070–type laws; partial supporter of the “DREAM Act,” but only for states Opposes the Common Core State Standards; his state did not enter the Race to the Top competition last year, opposes NCLB; supports more local control Supports a voluntary 20% flat tax; supports caps on federal spending at 18% of country’s GDP; supports privatization of Social Security; says he would eliminate tax breaks that he believes are stifling job creation
    Mitt Romney
    Former Governor of Massachusetts
     
    Opposes comprehensive immigration reform; supports strong border security; partial supporter of mass deportations, says that those here illegally should return home and settle affairs then be allowed to come back “at the back of the line;” opposes the “DREAM Act” Supports strong school accountability and school choice Supports “fundamental redesign” of the tax system, though stops short of supporting flat-tax policies; Supports eliminating taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for low- and middle-income taxpayers; would reduce the corporate tax rate; would also seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law
    Rick Santorum
    Former Senator from Pennsylvania
     
    Opposes comprehensive immigration reform; supports strong border security; supports mass deportations; supports SB 1070–type laws; opposes the “DREAM Act” Supported NCLB, but wants to see a reduced role for Dept. of Education; opposes Common Core State Standards; opposes early childhood education Supports a reduced corporate tax rate; supported both Bush tax cuts proposals in 2001 and 2003; opposed the Wall Street bailout and stimulus packages


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    Today is Iowa Caucus Day. It is the first presidential contest in the nation and since the GOP race is heating up, the news coverage of the contest has focused solely on the contenders vying for that party’s nomination. It should be noted, however, that President Obama is also on the Iowa ballot. Since he has no opposition in the race for the nomination, he’ll instead address the Democratic caucuses around the state via live stream, answering questions from Iowa Democrats.

    As Iowans make their way to the caucuses later this evening, we thought it would be helpful for NCLR supporters to know where each of the candidates stand on some of the issues most important to Latinos: immigration, education, and jobs. Below are the candidates’ stated positions on each of these important issues. Enjoy, and if you’re an Iowa voter, happy Caucus Day!

      Immigration (Thinkprogress.org) Education (HuffingtonPost.com) Jobs (NationalJournal.com)

    Michele Bachmann 
    Representative from Minnesota (dropped out Jan. 4, 2012)

    Opposes immigration reform; supports strong border security; supports mass deportations; supports state and local immigration laws such as SB 1070 and HB 56
     
    Critical of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), says “created a classroom environment of ‘teaching to the test,’ a one-size-fits-all approach to learning that does not work well for every student.” Co-sponsor of a bill that would let states develop their own curricula; supports abolishing U.S. Dept. of Education
     
    Says Mr. Obama’s job creation record is “abysmal,” and most egregious is the level of government spending and debt, a weakened dollar, a “threat of new tax increases,” and the “burdens” on small businesses imposed by “Obamacare”; supports elimination of IRS and “counterproductive” federal regulations, and says she would push for lower taxes
    Newt Gingrich
    Former Speaker of the House
     
    Partially supports immigration reform; supports strong border security; partially supports mass deportation, says families that have been here for several decades should not be deported; supports SB 1070–like laws; supports military provision of the “DREAM Act” Supports reducing role of Dept. of Education down to a “research and reporting agency;” opposes the Common Core State Standards; supports a Pell grant–type system for K–12 education To create an “atmosphere conducive to job creation,” Gingrich supports an optional 15% flat tax that keeps deductions for charitable giving and homeownership and supports a personal deduction of $12,000; would eliminate capital gains tax and cut the corporate income tax to 12.5%; would push to repeal laws related to financial regulations and to dismantle the Environmental Protection Agency in favor of a new agency 
    Jon Huntsman
    Former Governor of Utah
     
    Partially supports immigration reform—says change is needed with regards to work visas; supports strong border security; opposes mass deportations; supports SB 1070-type laws; supports the “DREAM Act” Opposes NCLB, says control needs to be “restored” to the local level; supports vouchers Supports major tax reform along the lines of Pres. Reagan’s 1986 tax reform package; would simplify the tax code by eliminating all deductions and credits in favor of three rates, and eliminate taxes on capital gains and dividends 

    Ron Paul
    Representative from Texas

     

    Supports partial immigration reform, says more efficiency is needed at the border; supports strong border security, but stops short of supporting a border-long fence; opposes mass deportation; has not stated an opinion on the “DREAM Act” Supports elimination of the Dept. of Education; opposes NCLB; homeschool champion; supports tax credits for parents who home-school; does not support government assistance for higher education
     
    Strong opponent of monetary policy; supports abolition of the Federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard; calls the 2008 stimulus bill an “excuse to expand government intervention and power on an unprecedented level”; believes government destroys jobs, and says markets are the only bodies that create jobs

    Rick Perry
    Governor of Texas

     

    Supports partial immigration reform, but stops short of amnesty; supporter of strong border security; supports mass deportations; supports SB 1070–type laws; partial supporter of the “DREAM Act,” but only for states Opposes the Common Core State Standards; his state did not enter the Race to the Top competition last year, opposes NCLB; supports more local control Supports a voluntary 20% flat tax; supports caps on federal spending at 18% of country’s GDP; supports privatization of Social Security; says he would eliminate tax breaks that he believes are stifling job creation
    Mitt Romney
    Former Governor of Massachusetts
     
    Opposes comprehensive immigration reform; supports strong border security; partial supporter of mass deportations, says that those here illegally should return home and settle affairs then be allowed to come back “at the back of the line;” opposes the “DREAM Act” Supports strong school accountability and school choice Supports “fundamental redesign” of the tax system, though stops short of supporting flat-tax policies; Supports eliminating taxes on interest, dividends and capital gains for low- and middle-income taxpayers; would reduce the corporate tax rate; would also seek to repeal the Affordable Care Act and the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law
    Rick Santorum
    Former Senator from Pennsylvania
     
    Opposes comprehensive immigration reform; supports strong border security; supports mass deportations; supports SB 1070–type laws; opposes the “DREAM Act” Supported NCLB, but wants to see a reduced role for Dept. of Education; opposes Common Core State Standards; opposes early childhood education Supports a reduced corporate tax rate; supported both Bush tax cuts proposals in 2001 and 2003; opposed the Wall Street bailout and stimulus packages


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    (202) 776-1812

    Strong leader will help protect Hispanic consumers

    Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) applauds President Obama’s decision today to appoint Richard Cordray as the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) through a recess appointment. NCLR has long advocated for this nomination to be confirmed. President Obama made a bold but necessary move in response to the Senate’s prior obstruction of this highly qualified nominee. Cordray will be the first director of the newly established CFPB, which was created to protect the consumer rights of Americans.

    “Cordray’s appointment is a new day for America’s consumers,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. “Having such a strong leader at the helm of the CFPB will not only protect our community from predatory lending practices, it will also help provide Latino consumers with the necessary information and services needed to make the best financial decisions for themselves and their families.”

    The CFPB was created to help protect American consumers from dishonest lenders, who have lured many borrowers into unfair and faulty mortgages, payday loans, credit cards, and other abusive financial products. As a result of those practices, thousands of Latino families and other communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. With a director now in place, the agency can move forward on efforts such as new simplified disclosures for mortgages and credit cards, research and monitoring of financial institutions, and effective rules that prohibit unfair practices.

    “Cordray brings to the position a history of fair and sensible enforcement practices. He has a proven record of holding lenders accountable and will be an ally for America’s Latino families,” Murguía added. “We at NCLR look forward to working with Mr. Cordray to help improve the lives of America’s consumers.”

    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 along on Facebook and Twitter.         

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    President Obama made a bold move to stand with American consumers today when he announced that he would make a recess appointment of Richard Cordray to head the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB). Unfortunately, the president had to defy Congress because of partisan bickering that has nothing to do with Mr. Cordray’s qualifications (which are numerous) and everything to do with GOP dislike for the CFPB.

    The GOP’s position is bewildering, given that this consumer watchdog group promises to provide the kind of protection we all need from the sort of predatory lending practices that threw the U.S. economy into a tailspin just a few years ago. It should also be noted that these recess appointments are nothing new. President George W. Bush made 171 while he was in office and Bill Clinton made 139. To date, Mr. Obama has made just 29 of these recess appointments.

    For Latinos specifically, Cordray’s appointment is especially welcome. In a statement, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía said, “Cordray’s announcement is a new day for America’s consumers. Having such a strong leader at the helm of the CFPB will not only protect our community from predatory lending practices, it will also help provide Latino consumers with the necessary information and services needed to make the best financial decisions for themselves and their families.”

    As Cordray begins his work, it’s helpful to know just what the CFPB is and how it will benefit Latinos and all Americans.

    The CFPB a new bureau created with the sole task of protecting consumer rights. The lack of strong protections for consumers has allowed unscrupulous lenders to lure borrowers into unfair and abusive financial products. As a result, Latino and other communities of color have been disproportionately affected by the economic crisis. This legislation created a new agency devoted to protecting Americans from abusive financial products and services, including mortgages, payday loans, and credit cards.

    In its full operation, the CFPB would help:

    • Prevent abusive lending tactics and products that endanger our savings and assets
    • Ensure that individuals are able to access the most favorable loan or credit card for which they qualify
    • Provide timely and relevant information and advice to average consumers to help them make smarter financial decisions
    • Preserve the ability of states and tribal governments to respond to and protect their consumers
    • Prevent opponents from blocking CFPB functions 

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today lauded the Obama administration’s announcement that it will begin a process to allow certain visa applicants to file a request for a family unity waiver in the U.S. The proposed change will eliminate a bureaucratic hurdle that creates hardships for U.S. citizens and their immediate family members and has resulted in the separation of families for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. 

    “It is unconscionable that a bureaucratic loophole is unnecessarily separating families for weeks or even years while they wait for a form to be processed. This is an affront to our most basic values as a nation. This sensible and compassionate proposal helps bring much-needed sanity to an often senseless process,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

    The lack of federal action to address the breakdown of our immigration system has led to dysfunction and to obstacles that keep legal immigrant families separated for years instead of allowing them to enter the country through an efficient, logical process. Currently, spouses and children who qualify for a green card based on their relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must leave the U.S. to apply for their green card abroad, and some of them are barred from reentering the U.S. for either three or ten years. Families remain separated for long periods of time, while the decision on the waiver for reentry is made. The administration’s commonsense proposal will allow for consideration of the family unity waiver before the applicant leaves the U.S. to complete the visa processing and return with a lawful permanent resident document.

    “We caution our community that this process has not yet been implemented and to not fall prey to schemes promising any benefit,” noted Murguía.

    “We commend President Obama on this important policy change and look forward to working with the administration in the coming months to ensure that the proposal is implemented robustly so that husbands, wives, and children who are playing by the rules can remain together.”

    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 along on Facebook and Twitter.             


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    The latest job figures are out and the picture is looking more positive. The unemployment rate fell to 8.5% and 200,000 jobs were added to payrolls. Many of those jobs were created in the retail sector, which employs a significant number of Latinos. While this particular sector was predicted to benefit greatly from the holiday season, there is concern over the lack of upward career mobility that these types of jobs offer our community.

    The latest edition of the Monthly Latino Employment Report focuses on the current Latino employment trends in the retail sector and also highlights a job training program that holds great promise for increasing that ever-important level of upward mobility for Latinos who make their living in retail.

    From the report:

    Trade, transportation, and utilities—the sector that includes retail—posted positive employment growth in nearly every state between March 2010 and March 2011, as seen in Figure 1. Additionally, a majority of the retail trade subsectors have seen mostly positive employment growth over the past six months. Furthermore, one subsector, clothing and clothing accessories stores, posted the second largest growth in employment of 26,700 jobs in November 2011, after having added 6,700 in October and 20,200 in September. Both November and September were well above the industry’s three-month average change of 10,800 (see Figure 2). In comparison to the same months in 2010, these figures represent a significant boost in hiring and are a sign that retail is bouncing back.

    Figure 1. Employment in Trade, Transportation, and Utilities, 12-Month Percent Change, March 2010–March 2011


    Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “QCEW State and County Map,” Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, http://beta.bls.gov/maps/cew/US?start_over=true (accessed December 29, 2011). Data are for private establishments.

    Figure 2. Change in Employment in Clothing and Clothing Accessories Stores,
    October 2010–November 2011

    Source: NCLR calculation using U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics, “Table B-1, Employees on nonfarm payrolls by industry sector and selected industry detail,” http://www.bls.gov/webapps/legacy/cesbtab1.htm (accessed December 28, 2011). Total employment excludes farm employment. October and November data are preliminary.

    It’s important to note that growth in the retail sector will not boost the U.S. economy or provide real job security as long as there is no room for advancement for the millions of low-wage and temporary workers that make up the sector’s job force. To ensure that the apparent recovery in the retail sector benefits the workers who contribute their labor, including Hispanics, federal policy should:

    • Encourage career mobility in retail industries through career pathway programs. Fund pathway programs through bills like the “Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act of 2011” (H.R. 1240) and the “American Jobs Act of 2011” (S.1549).14.
    • Prevent efforts to consolidate and cut workforce development program funds. The publicly funded adult education and workforce development system is designed to help adults who have aged out of the public school system improve their skills and transition to higher-level jobs.
    • Reauthorize the Workforce Investment Act (WIA). The slowly recovering economy and current levels of high unemployment emphasize the need for a 21st century workforce system with the proper funding to provide workers with the necessary training and employers with highly skilled workers.

    Click here to read the full report. 


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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


    Release of report comes as positive, commonsense state immigration legislation is set to gain momentum in 2012

    Washington—As comprehensive immigration reform remained stalled in Congress in 2011, the issue persisted as a top priority among state legislatures that pushed various bills targeting undocumented immigrants. Today, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) released The Wrong Approach: State Anti-Immigration Legislation in 2011, a report that offers a state-by-state breakdown of the status of anti-immigrant bills introduced over the past year.

    “Although 2011 saw a wave of Arizona SB 1070-style bills introduced at the state level, the majority of these bills were rejected,” said Elena Lacayo, Immigration Field Coordinator for the Immigration Policy Project at NCLR. “And of the 25 states that rejected these bills, more than half of those were Republican controlled. Now, the few states that disappointingly passed these laws are facing the same legal, economic, and civil rights problems that Arizona has faced.”

    In fact, in 2011 many more states considered and advanced laws focused on expanding opportunity for immigrants and residents as a whole in a variety of areas, including access to higher education and labor rights. As the 2012 legislative sessions kick off, scores of state legislators are working to advance commonsense approaches to immigration policy—those that bolster state economies and honor our nation’s values, according to Progressive States Network (PSN), a national organization that provides support to state legislators advancing positive, commonsense immigration measures.

    “State lawmakers want what’s best for the states and state economies, and 2011 showed us that legislators are increasingly committed to crafting solutions-based approaches to immigration focused on expanding opportunity and economic prosperity at a time when state budgets need all the help that they can get,” said Suman Raghunathan, Director of Policy and Strategic Partnerships at Progressive States Network.

    To date, only six states have passed broad anti-immigrant bills modeled off of Arizona’s SB 1070: Utah, Indiana, Georgia, Alabama, and South Carolina. The NCLR report provides an overview of how this legislation gained momentum, beginning with the passage of SB 1070 in Arizona, and what consequences those states endured as a result of these laws, including immediate legal challenges, economic losses, civil rights violations, and growing mistrust between law enforcement and the immigrant community.

    Today, Ms. Lacayo and Ms. Raghunathan were joined by Isabel Rubio, Executive Director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!), and by Colorado State Senator Michael Johnston for a telephonic press conference where participants discussed why these laws took root in some states and failed in others and the prospects of both pro- and anti-immigrant state proposals in 2012.

    Ms. Rubio shared her firsthand account of the damage that she’s seen in Alabama as a result of the state’s incredibly harsh anti-immigrant law.

    “HB 56 brought Alabama back to the dark past it has worked so hard to overcome,” said Rubio. “Alabama is now gripped by a humanitarian crisis as a consequence of this law: families are fleeing the state, kids are afraid to go to school, and people are being denied basic services such as access to water.”

    But, participants were quick to point out that the negative impact that these laws have had on states such as Alabama, Georgia, and Arizona may have deterred other states from taking similar action. In fact, some lawmakers, like Sen. Johnston, are actually pushing back and introducing pro-immigrant bills.

    “Colorado’s future depends on forward-thinking approaches to immigration—ones that focus on nurturing talented youth and putting our tax dollars to better use than destroying immigrant families,” said Sen. Johnston. “As a former public school teacher, I have seen firsthand all that our state has to gain from the economic contributions and energy of immigrants. I remain committed to laws and policies that welcome and channel this energy into a better future for Colorado this year and beyond.”

    Still, Lacayo warned that more anti-immigrant legislation could be on the horizon in 2012.

    “Until Congress acts on immigration, we will no doubt see legislators continue to push racial profiling bills at the state level,” said Lacayo. “While we’re grateful that states are rejecting these bills, we still need our lawmakers on Capitol Hill to stop using this issue for political sport and actually provide this country with legitimate solutions to fix our broken immigration system at the federal level.”

    Raghunathan added that state legislators are critical to shifting the debate to generate solutions in 2012.

    “State legislators understand the on-the-ground reality of immigration, which has largely expanded economic output and opportunity while revitalizing communities,” noted Raghunathan. “These lawmakers are at the forefront of commonsense approaches that recognize the contributions of immigrant workers and families and chart a way forward to expand opportunity for all.”

    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 along on Facebook and Twitter.       

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    (202) 776-1812

    Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) hails President Obama’s historic appointment of Cecilia Muñoz to serve as Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council (DPC). Muñoz is the first Hispanic to serve in that position, and she is the highest-ranking Latina in the White House. Muñoz joined the White House staff in 2009 after serving as NCLR’s Senior Vice President of Policy for more than a decade.

    “This is obviously a very proud day for NCLR, but we are even more proud that President Obama has chosen someone of Cecilia’s experience and caliber for this very important position. We believe he has made a very wise choice,” stated Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

    “Cecilia’s appointment is great news for America’s families,” continued Murguía. “She cares deeply about the struggles that our country’s families are facing, and she will work in her trademark relentless style to ensure a brighter future for them and, most especially, for our children.”

    Muñoz will replace outgoing director Melody Barnes, who has served as director in that capacity since 2009. As head of the DPC, Muñoz will oversee policymaking on a variety of domestic issues, including Social Security, education, and health care. She will also continue her role as the president’s immigration adviser. The appointment of Muñoz elevates the visibility of the Latino community, which has experienced a significant increase in population and will be highly influential in the 2012 elections.

    “This appointment is also great news for the Latino community,” said Murguía. “Latinos are not a one-issue community and they are affected significantly by all the issues within DPC’s portfolio. Having someone with Cecilia’s knowledge and perspective as head of the DPC is unprecedented and will be a big plus for the community.”

    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 along on Facebook and Twitter.

    ###         


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    Latinos were practically invisible among the new television shows last fall, but things may be looking up. Tomorrow CBS premieres a new sitcom, ¡Rob!, starring comedian and former Saturday Night Live star Rob Schneider. The show, based on Schneider’s real-life experience marrying into a large Mexican American family, has the largest Latino cast on primetime, including good friends of NCLR and the ALMA Awards, Cheech Marin and Lupe Ontiveros**. We ask the NCLR familia to support them by tuning in on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. (EST) on your local CBS station. Check out a clip below and watch the show tomorrow night! Then, let us know what you think on our ALMA Awards Facebook page.

    **Cheech Marin is a 1999 recipient of the NCLR/KRAFT ALMA Award for Community Service, and Lupe Ontiveros is a 1999 recipient of the NCLR ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series, Veronica’s Closet (NBC) 

    (This was first posted to the ALMA Awards Blog.)


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    Necessary to any good school is a good library and NCLR has teamed up with the Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation to help renovate libraries badly in need of attention.

    We recently concluded the Library Renovation Project, a $25,000 grant made possible with the support of Lowe’s and NCLR. In 2011, the grant was able to provide support to four schools: Los Angeles Leadership Academy, Camino Nuevo Charter Academy (also in Los Angeles), East Austin College Prep Academy, and the George I. Sanchez Charter High School in Houston. The schools used the grant to create community meeting spaces, an early childhood reading and storytelling nook, a computer research area, and a wifi hot spot for electronic reading devices. The grant was also used to buy new college- and career-readiness resources for high school and adult students.

    “We thank you because with your donations we’ve made happen a spectacular lounge that all the students of Camino Nuevo can enjoy,” said Kenny Valencia, a Camino Nuevo Charter Academy student. “For example, we could use it to take tests, study, and read because it’s a quiet place to do all those important things to be successful in our education and learning. Thank you for your support.”

    Most importantly, the Library Renovation project provides students and families with a comfortable learning environment for becoming lifelong readers and keeping in step with the latest technology. Check out a short slide show below of some of the libraries that have been renovated. 


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Joseph Rendeiro
    jrendeiro@nclr.org

    (202) 776-1566

    Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) will honor the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday on Monday, January 16, by carrying out community service activities throughout the nation. NCLR staff will join local nonprofit organizations that are members of the NCLR Affiliate Network in paying tribute to Dr. King through community service projects throughout the week. Members of the public are invited to participate in these service activities; the description of each project and contact information is listed below by state and community organization.

    District of Columbia/Maryland

    Maryland Multicultural Youth Center (MMYC)—Riverdale, Md.
    Latin American Youth Center (LAYC)—District of Columbia

    The MMYC AmeriCorps members will combine efforts and energy to present a cultural expression in gratitude and honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. There will be music, poetry, dance, and reenactments of his famous speeches. The location is Buck Lodge Middle School, 2611 Buck Lodge Road, Adelphi, Md.
    Contact: Christian Martir, christian@layc-dc.org

    Illinois

    Association House of Chicago—Chicago, Ill.
    AmeriCorps members will be joining City Year Chicago in transforming and uplifting three community centers in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood with murals, painting, and construction projects. The check-in and opening ceremony will be held at Henry Ford Academy, located at Power House High, 931 South Homan Street, Chicago.
    Contact: Erika Tejeda, etejeda@associationhouse.org

    Instituto del Progreso Latino—Chicago, Ill.
    There will be a clothing drive in honor of Dr. King’s legacy. Please bring families who you know who may be in need of clothing to the event on Monday, January 16, between the hours of noon and 4:00 p.m., to receive complimentary shopping bags and clothes. This event will be held in the community room on the second floor at 2520 S. Western Avenue in Chicago.
    Contact: Carlos Flores, c.flores@idpl.org

    Texas

    Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe—El Paso, Texas
    The AmeriCorps program will present an educational program to children about the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Child Crisis Center of El Paso, an emergency shelter for children who come from abusive households, homeless parents, or dangerous living conditions. AmeriCorps members will engage the children in activities and lessons that highlight the values of Dr. King and how they might apply these to their lives. Additionally, the members will collect and sort food for the needy as part of the El Paso County food drive in honor of Dr. King.
    Contact: Victor Obevoen, vobevoen@lafeprep.org

    Information Referral Resource Assistance (IRRA)—Edinburg, Texas
    IRRA AmeriCorps members will lead service projects in honor of Dr. King at various service sites in the Texas Valley, including Brownsville, Rio Grande City, Mission, Edinburg, Weslaco, and Raymondville. Projects will include presentations with the learners at their sites. Each student will read a line from the “I Have a Dream” speech that Dr. King delivered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
    Contact: Alexandria J. Nieto, ajnieto@irra.org

    California

    Unity Council—Oakland, Calif.
    The Unity Council AmeriCorps members will conduct restoration work and invasive plant removal with East Bay Regional Parks and Recreation to support and care for local wildlife and natural habitats. Wear comfortable, weather-appropriate clothes and closed-toe shoes. Please bring your own water bottle.
    Contact: Anthony Zapien, azapien@unitycouncil.org

    Youth Policy Institute (YPI)—Los Angeles, Calif.
    YPI AmeriCorps members will be creating an edible garden at Gratts Learning Academy for Young Scholars (GLAYS). The project will include removing old planters, weeding, planting new trees, and building and creating planters and benches. The project will benefit the students of GLAYS Elementary School in an effort to promote literacy (the garden will be used as a reading garden) and health (they will be planting edible plants and seeds).
    Contact: Ana Lopez, alopez@ypiusa.org

    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 along Facebook and Twitter.

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    By Sergio Eduardo Muñoz and Jennifer Ng’andu,NCLR Health Policy Project

    If you thought the president’s signature was the last step for a piece of legislation, think again. In many ways, the step that follows, federal rulemaking, can be just as important. In fact, it is one of the most essential ways to promote sound policies that address the needs and concerns of Latinos. Think of it this way: new bills and laws are often just an outline of what policies should do; the rules are what actually put the rubber to the road.

    This past fall, health advocates waded through a flurry of proposed regulations on the building blocks of the reformed health care system under the Affordable Care Act (ACA)—regulations that have the potential to greatly improve Hispanic access to health coverage. As part of this rulemaking process, NCLR submitted comments to federal agencies about how to ensure equal access to care for Latino workers and children. Hopefully these recommendations will be taken to heart—health inequity can have devastating consequences.

    Three of the comments addressed standards for the establishment, functioning, and approval of the new private health insurance marketplaces, or Exchanges. If fairly designed, these marketplaces have the potential to offer quality affordable coverage to populations that were previously vulnerable to the price-gouging and discrimination of private plans. Among the least likely to receive insurance options through their employers, despite their significant presence in the labor market, Latinos have much to gain from the Exchanges. Middle- and low-income Hispanic participants may also qualify for premium tax credits in the Exchanges, which help families afford the costs of insurance. For those low-income Hispanic immigrants who cannot afford the Exchanges even with the credits, NCLR submitted comments on the Basic Health Program (BHP), an optional ACA public health insurance program which, like the Exchanges, can be accessed by immigrants without a five-year waiting period.

    Finally, NCLR commented on the historic Medicaid expansion, which will now open up the successful public health insurance program to almost all individuals at or under 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Thirteen million Latinos, the majority of whom are children, already receive crucial coverage and care through Medicaid, and the program’s importance will only grow. In all six of our submitted comments, NCLR urged relevant agencies to acknowledge the serious health inequities affecting the Hispanic community—including disparate access to coverage and care—and to carefully draft final rules that effectively enact the ACA’s fairness measures. For example:

    • NCLR requested that the proposed rules outline clear standards on nondiscrimination protections, because we know that discrimination in health care settings has contributed to widening gaps in health care access and quality. 
    • Insufficient requirements for language services and cultural competency are also a big problem throughout the proposed rules. A key indicator for effective Latino access to health coverage has traditionally been the ability of programs to accommodate limited-English-proficient communities, in addition to those with low health literacy or those who may not be able to read at any grade level.
    • Another crucial access problem for Hispanics is the increase in immigrant restrictions for health programs. Specifically, health care reform took an unprecedented step back in immigrant health by prohibiting the participation of undocumented taxpayers in the Exchanges—even if they are seeking to buy private health insurance at full cost without any government assistance. Not only does this exclusion defeat the purpose of a law meant to increase health coverage, it also makes enrollment for everyone else that much more difficult. NCLR weighed in to ensure that this new exclusion does not needlessly affect eligibility processes, especially in a “no wrong door” system where no eligible family should be blocked from enrollment.
    • Finally, because Hispanics suffer significant poverty rates and generally have a lower median income, NCLR expressed the need to improve ACA affordability measures. Along with many of our public interest allies, NCLR advocated for the revision of the proposed tax credit rule that absurdly pegged the definition of an affordable offer of employer sponsored insurance (ESI) to the cost of an individual plan, not family coverage.

    Both states and advocates are anxiously awaiting the finalization of these rules in order to have these important parts of health care reform up and running by 2014. Their final shape will have a dramatic effect on Latino health, and NCLR will continue its fight to ensure health equity for all.

    Federal rulemaking may appear to be an insiders’ game, but it sets the stage for all of us. 


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    It’s late January and if you’re a political junkie, then you know that it’s time for the State of the Union address. It’s one of the most important speeches of the year for the president and his staff. The speech will be especially important this year as it is an election year. You can be sure that this particular State of the Union will be extra political as the president begins to campaign in earnest for his reelection.

    This year, NCLR will be doing something special for the annual speech. We’ll be joining senior administration officials at the White House to watch the speech, and afterward there will be a panel discussion. The officials on hand will be answering questions about the speech and other issues. The best part? We’ll be asking your questions, too! Tweet us your questions or write them on our Facebook wall. We’ll try to ask as many of your questions as possible, but we need you to submit them to us in order to do so. NCLR is glad to be participating and we hope that we can pose some meaningful and substantive questions about the issues most important to the Latino community.

    Finally, if you haven’t done so, take our survey and let us know what you want to hear President Obama talk about in his third State of the Union speech.


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    (202) 365-2273 

    Washington—On Tuesday, January 24 at 9:00 p.m. EST, President Barack Obama will deliver his annual State of the Union Address to Congress. The president will offer a number of policy proposals focused on key issues facing the Latino community, including job growth, the housing crisis, and higher education. NCLR (National Council of La Raza) will be listening closely to the president’s remarks, which will undoubtedly reflect the priorities of this administration as we head into 2012, a crucial election year. 

    For an immediate reaction to the president’s speech, NCLR is making available a number of spokespeople who can address specific issue areas, which include health care, jobs and the economy, immigration, Social Security, tax policy, housing, education, and the Latino electorate. If you are interested in speaking with an NCLR spokesperson after the State of the Union Address, please call Julian Teixeira, Director of Communications, at (202) 365-2273 or email him at jteixeira@nclr.org. He will put you in contact with the appropriate NCLR representative to conduct your interview.

    MEDIA ADVISORY

    WHAT: State of the Union Address

    WHEN: Tuesday, January 24, 2011, 9:00 p.m. EST

    To arrange an interview after the State of the Union, please contact Julian Teixeira at (202) 365-2273 or by email at jteixeira@nclr.org.

    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 along on Twitter and Facebook.

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    Washington—With the Republican race for the presidential nomination in flux, Florida will once again play a major role in deciding the party’s candidate for president. For the first time in the race thus far, Hispanic voters will be a crucial factor in the upcoming primary, as they were for Senator John McCain in 2008.

    “The Hispanic voice has been missing in this election season, but with Florida in play, that voice can no longer be ignored,” said Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR (National Council of La Raza). “So far, the debates among the Republican candidates have been dominated by a troubling one-upmanship on who can be tougher on immigration. If they have any hope of competing for the Latino vote, these candidates not only have to explain themselves on immigration, but address the other key issues faced by our community such as job creation and the housing crisis.”

    Latinos make up 16 percent of the country’s population, and 22 percent of Floridians are Hispanic. Nationally, 74 percent of Latinos are U.S. citizens, and at least 500,000 Latino youth turn 18 every year. In 2008, 9.7 million Latinos voted and that number is likely to increase by at least two million in 2012, making the Hispanic vote essential to winning the presidency.

    “Meaningful outreach and positions matter to Latino voters,” stated Murguía. “This week in Florida, candidates have a chance to address Latinos directly in the Univision and NBC/Telemundo debates, and Latino voters across the country will be watching. What they say now sets the tone going forward with Hispanic voters, which will very likely determine who will be the next president of the United States.”

    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 along on Facebook and Twitter.

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    Robo-signing Settlement Could Be Next Step in Holding Banks Accountable

    By Janis Bowdler, Director, Wealth-Building Policy Project

    Today, after a year of negotiations, American families learned what lenders and attorneys general (AGs) have decided regarding the damages wrought by the national “robo-signing” scandal. According to an Associated Press article, the AGs have secured $25 billion in relief for families who lost their home in a rush of hasty, mass foreclosures; the majority of these funds—a reported $17 billion—will be available for principal write-downs. While news of the approaching deal is welcome, important details are still unknown.

    From what we know about the multistate settlement, the deal offers some relief, but it will not be the silver bullet of enforcement for which the civil rights community hoped. Notably, two-thirds of the settlement will go toward principal reduction, making it the largest such effort to redeem underwater homeowners. But the deal has flaws. For example, the $17 billion earmarked for principal reduction is overshadowed by need: 11 million homeowners owe more than their home is worth. Moreover, important questions remain, such as those surrounding the sort of legal releases that have been granted to the five servicers.

    More than anything, the deal sheds light on the next steps that the Obama administration and the 50 state AGs must pursue to fully realize justice for America’s homeowners and taxpayers. This should be regarded as a critical step in a series of enforcement actions to hold accountable the culprits behind the nation’s financial collapse for their predatory lending, fraud, deception, and wrongful foreclosures. Coupled with the Department of Justice’s settlement with Countrywide last month, today’s news indicates progress toward the accountability that the public deserves, but our work is not done. We are counting on the relentless efforts of people like Massachusetts AG Martha Coakley, Nevada AG Catherine Cortez Masto, New York AG Eric Schneiderman, Delaware AG Beau Biden, and California AG Kamala Harris to continue their investigations and pursuit of justice for families.

    President Obama will likely laud this hard-fought settlement in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, January 24, 2012. If the deal shakes out as expected, there will indeed be aspects to celebrate, but it is too soon to declare victory. The president must continue his efforts to hold servicers accountable to their victims and to taxpayers. He can start by turning the spotlight on Ed DeMarco and the servicing policies of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

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

    Washington—Con la carrera republicana en marcha por la nominación de su candidato presidencial, Florida, una vez más, jugará un papel crucial en la elección del candidato del partido. Por primera vez en la carrera hasta la fecha, los votantes hispanos serán un factor determinante en las próximas primarias, así como lo fueron para el senador John McCain en el 2008.

    “Ha faltado la voz de los hispanos en esta temporada electoral, pero con Florida en juego, esta voz no puede seguir ignorándose”, dijo Janet Murguía, presidenta y directora general del NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza). “Hasta ahora, los debates entre los candidatos republicanos han estado dominados por una inquietante rivalidad sobre quién puede ser más duro en el tema de inmigración. Si tienen alguna esperanza de competir por el voto latino, estos candidatos no sólo tienen que dar explicaciones sobre el tema de inmigración, sino abordar los otros problemas clave que enfrenta nuestra comunidad tales como la creación de empleos y la crisis de la vivienda".

    Los latinos constituyen el 16% de la población del país, y el 22% de los residentes de Florida son hispanos. A nivel nacional, el 74% de los latinos son ciudadanos estadounidenses, y por lo menos 500,000 jóvenes latinos cumplen cada año 18 años. En el 2008, 9.7 millones de latinos votó y es probable que esta cifra aumente por lo menos dos millones en el 2012, convirtiendo al voto latino en un factor esencial para llegar a la presidencia.

    "Un alcance significativo y las posturas que se defiendan les importan a los votantes latinos", dijo Murguía. "Esta semana en Florida, los candidatos tienen la oportunidad de dirigirse directamente a los latinos en los debates de Univision y NBC / Telemundo, y los votantes latinos de todo el país los estarán observando. Lo que digan en ese momento marcará el tono de ahora en adelante con los votantes hispanos, quienes muy probablemente determinarán quién será el próximo presidente de los Estados Unidos".

    El NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza) 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 mayor información sobre el NCLR, por favor visite www.nclr.org o síganos en Facebook y Twitter.

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    Tonight, President Obama outlined his vision for the nation in his third State of the Union address. If you can’t get enough of the politics, check out the video below for a live discussion with senior White House officials. They’re taking your questions about the speech. Follow the conversation on Twitter using the #SOTU or #WHChat hastags.

    The overarching theme of the president’s speech focused on jobs and elevating the middle class. It was a subject not lost on the Latino community and you, our NCLR supporters.

    In the days leading up to the State of the Union, we asked you to tell us what you wanted to hear the president talk about. Jobs/economy, immigration, and education were the top three issues you said the president should address in his speech. Not surprisingly, as the election season picks up momentum, the number one thing you said the president and Congress could do to move your top issues forward was to focus less on their reelections and more on doing what is right for the country. Putting aside partisan politics followed closely behind in that category.

    We were also happy to hear that you are ready to participate in the 2012 elections; more than 80% of you who took the survey said you were absolutely certain that you would vote in November.

    Thanks to all who participated!
     


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    In this third State of the Union address, President Barack Obama encouraged Congress and society to work together to benefit us all. At NCLR, we applaud his eagerness for reducing inequality and his efforts in rebuilding America’s middle class. We also challenge Congress and the Obama administration to enact commonsense policies that ensure that economic mobility is achievable for hardworking Latinos. Here are some of the highlights of last night’s speech that concern the Latino community:

    Economy and Employment

    • “Tax reform should follow the Buffett rule: If you make more than $1 million a year, you should not pay less than 30% in taxes. And my Republican friend Tom Coburn is right: Washington should stop subsidizing millionaires.”
    • “Tear down regulations that prevent aspiring entrepreneurs from getting the financing to grow. Expand tax relief to small businesses that are raising wages and creating good jobs.”
    • “That’s why I’m sending this Congress a plan that gives every responsible homeowner the chance to save about $3,000 a year on their mortgage, by refinancing at historically low interest rates. No more red tape. No more runaround from the banks. A small fee on the largest financial institutions will ensure that it won’t add to the deficit, and will give banks that were rescued by taxpayers a chance to repay a deficit of trust.”
    • “As long as I’m president, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum. But I intend to fight obstruction with action, and I will oppose any effort to return to the very same policies that brought on this economic crisis in the first place.”
    • “Tonight, my message to business leaders is simple: Ask yourselves what you can do to bring jobs back to your country, and your country will do everything we can to help you succeed.”
    • “It's time to turn our unemployment system into a reemployment system that puts people to work.”

    Health Care and Social Security

    • “I’m prepared to make more reforms that rein in the long-term costs of Medicare and Medicaid, and strengthen Social Security, so long as those programs remain a guarantee of security for seniors.”
    • “I will not go back to the days when health insurance companies had unchecked power to cancel your policy, deny you coverage, or charge women differently from men."

    Education

    • “At a time when Americans owe more in tuition debt than credit card debt, this Congress needs to stop the interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. Extend the tuition tax credit we started that saves middle-class families thousands of dollars. And give more young people the chance to earn their way through college by doubling the number of work-study jobs in the next five years.”
    • “Higher education can’t be a luxury—it’s an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford.”

    Immigration

    • “I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. [...].We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”

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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO, responds to State of the Union

    Washington—Applauding President Obama’s themes of economic fairness and shared responsibility during his State of the Union address, Janet Murguía, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) President and CEO, challenges Congress and the administration to enact commonsense policies that not only strengthen the middle class, but also ensure that economic mobility is achievable for hardworking Latinos.

    “The president correctly stated that the values of fairness, equality, and shared responsibility built this country and helped guide this nation through its most difficult times. It is clear that Latinos, through their hard work and strong values, have in common with the president an optimistic outlook for the future and a commitment to shared responsibility. To make those values real for Latinos and for all Americans, though, we need policies that promote fairness and equity by focusing on creating jobs, improving education, ensuring financial security, and reforming our immigration system,” stated Murguía.

    The Hispanic community believes there is a role for our federal government in expanding opportunity, and that it must act aggressively and wisely in times of economic strife for middle-class and low-income Americans. For Hispanics, this means that President Obama and Congress should support policies that:

    • Provide all children with a quality education from early childhood education through college
    • Protect the benefits of the health care reform law which will open new pathways to coverage for many Latinos, and prevent cuts to programs such as Medicaid and Medicare which serve as a vital lifeline to the Hispanic community
    • Encourage job creation, particularly in sectors that have a large Latino workforce such as transportation, and more worker training and education
    • Promote a tax system that is fair for all families, including working-class Latinos
    • Reduce the federal deficit while preserving Social Security, which provides a critical source of income for Latino seniors
    • Increase oversight and accountability among financial institutions in order to protect consumers from fraud
    • Reform our immigration laws at the federal level, which would protect immigrant families from dangerous state legislation

    “Americans, including Latinos, who work hard and play by the rules deserve a fair shot at the American Dream. The president’s address outlined some promising policies that should also be given a ‘fair shot’ by Congress. Hispanic Americans will be watching closely to see whether Congress and the administration can work together to respond to the needs of all Americans, including our community.”

    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 along on Facebook and Twitter.

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