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  • 02/28/12--15:25: ALMA and the Oscars
  • By Samantha Ferm, Integrated Marketing and Events, NCLR

    (This was first posted to the Alma Awards blog.)

    Thanks to everyone who has followed our brand-new ALMA Awards Twitter handle, @ALMAawards, and who joined our Sunday chat with the hashtag #ALMAandOscar. Now that we’re finally coming back down to earth after that Oscars adrenaline rush, let’s review the highlights, starting with Nina Garcia who held down red carpet coverage with her partner in crime from Project Runway, Tim Gunn. The Colombian queen of fashion didn’t miss a single sartorial detail in the parade of tuxedos and gowns that came her way!

    Several of our favorite Latinas rocked the red carpet as well as the stage, including Penelope Cruz, Berenice Bejo, Jennifer Lopez, and Cameron Diaz. Lopez and Diaz hammed it up on stage as they struck a sassy pose while announcing winners—a refreshing break from the show’s usual formality—while Sheila E. played drums as part of the house band. We love Latinas who rock like these ladies do, on or off the stage!

    Another highlight was the montage of celebrity mothers which played at the top of the show. It demonstrated the importance of family and was a touching glimpse of the journeys of well-known film stars as they strove to succeed in the entertainment industry. ALMA Awards nominee and Oscar nominee for best lead actor Demián Bichir brought his mother to the show and walked her through the red carpet ceremony, a sweet reminder of the importance of his familia in his own personal success (though we’re still drying our tears at Bichir’s loss of the Oscar to French star Jean Dujardin, who won for his role in the lovely film, The Artist).

    One of the most genuine moments of the program came from Esperanza Spalding as she sang a glorious rendition of “What a Wonderful World” for the “In Memoriam” tribute. The touching program honored individuals, including Whitney Houston, throughout the entertainment industry for their lifelong contributions.

    All in all, the 2012 Academy Awards® were compelling, memorable, and at times extremely witty with thoughtful tributes to family, history, and a lighthearted appreciation of the talent in the theater. What did you think of the show? Let us know on our Facebook or Tweet to us with the hashtag #ALMAandOscar!  


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  • 02/29/12--07:53: Tweet the White House!
  • Are you curious about the rise of voter suppression laws? Do you want to know how the White House plans to secure comprehensive immigration reform? Were you wondering how the historic mortgage settlement will benefit the millions of Latino families that have lost their homes? Most importantly, do you want an opportunity to influence the president’s policy agenda?

    Here’s your chance to ask the White House your questions and tell the Obama administration what’s important to you! Join NCLR’s Twitter chat with Jon Carson, the White House Director of the Office of Public Engagement, this Thursday, March 1, 3:00–4:00 p.m. EST. You can follow the conversation using #NCLRatWH. Jon Carson will use his Twitter handle, @JonCarson44, to answer your questions. We know you have lots of questions so start sending them in now. Use #NCLRatWH to send them. You can also email them to dcastillo@nclr.org or leave them on our Facebook wall.

    Transparency and accountability are fundamental characteristics of a democratic government. Preserving these values is the goal of the Office of Public Engagement, and it does so by encouraging dialogues between American people and the White House. This participation helps inform the president’s work and ultimately influences the policy agenda he sets. This chat is your opportunity to do just that.

    Click here to read Jon Carson’s bio and the bios of other Office of Public Engagement staffers, and remember to join us on Thursday


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    By Delia Pompa, Senior Vice President, Programs, NCLR

    (This was first posted to the National Education Experts Blog.)

    The Common Core standards are not a “silver bullet” for education reform, but we do know this: they represent a new opportunity for Latino students who are disproportionately affected by low standards. The evidence is clear that the Common Core represents a set of learning guidelines that are significantly more rigorous than those currently adopted by states. That alone is movement in the right direction.

    Of course, strong, thoughtful, and proper implementation of these standards is also necessary for them to be successful. Standards alone can only go so far. If they are implemented correctly, Common Core standards will ensure that historically underserved students, especially English language learners (ELLs), are taught to high standards that will prepare them for college and careers. The Common Core will help level the playing field by providing a foundation for solid instruction, assessments, and professional development. It will be the framework for developing a strong infrastructure in schools that fully supports the academic achievement of all students.

    Latino and ELL academic success is critical to the strength of the U.S. economy, as these students represent a large and growing share of the student population and future workforce. The Common Core holds much promise for Latinos, but it is vital that we support educators at all levels—teachers, principals, superintendents—as they work to implement their states’ new academic standards. Doing so will guarantee the delivery of a high-quality education to our Latino students, regardless of where they live.
     


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    By Raul Gonzalez, Legislative Affairs Director, Office of Research, Advocacy and Legislation, NCLR

    If Congress were actually capable of passing significant legislation, the futures of millions of school children would have been severely harmed by what happened in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, when the House Committee on Education and the Workforce debated legislation to renew No Child Left Behind (NCLB). The “Student Success Act,” which was approved in a party-line vote on Tuesday, will likely never become law. But what it intends to do should send a chill up the spine of anyone who cares about civil rights or the education of children of color, students with disabilities, and English language learners.

    For all its faults, NCLB stays true to the original purpose of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965, which was enacted during the civil rights era along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965—all designed to break down legal and social barriers to equal opportunity. NCLB requires schools to address the educational needs of every child. This policy was necessary because states and school districts were content with setting low standards for students, which meant that children whose education had been ignored for decades after the Brown v. Board of Education court decision would never catch up to students in more affluent communities or White students in their own school districts or schools. NCLB was designed to change this by requiring states and school districts to improve the public schools in every community for every child.

    Has NCLB worked? Clearly it hasn’t accomplished all of its goals. How we respond matters, however. The “Student Success Act” is the wrong approach.

    The “Student Success Act” doesn’t update NCLB; it obliterates it. And what was at the heart of the ESEA—educational opportunity for all—is the collateral damage. The “Student Success Act” allows states to set their own accountability systems in which they do not have to help students meet high standards, they do not have to help students make real progress, and they don’t have to graduate young people. Worst of all, schools that no longer serve these students will face no consequences. This is unacceptable. We can do better.

    It is time that the ESEA were treated once again as a civil rights law focused on bringing excellent schools into every community. For the past several years, the education policy debate has been about how NCLB has made the lives of adults in the school system difficult and how it has breached states’ rights. But ESEA wasn’t enacted in 1965 to address the needs of ineffective school leaders or to accommodate intransigent states opposed to the mandates of the Brown decision. Just as in the civil rights era, ESEA remains the main vehicle for expanding opportunities for children of color, students with disabilities, English language learners, and children from low-income households. Reauthorization of ESEA must be designed to meet this goal. The “Student Success Act” simply doesn’t cut it.  


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    The Florida voter suppression law was the subject of a new segment on The Colbert Report last night. “People Who Are Destroying America” is a hilarious takedown of this discriminatory law and puts a teacher registering her students to vote right at the center. Watch and enjoy!


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    Contact:
    Julian Teixeira
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    (202) 776-1812

    Washington—On the occasion of the silver anniversary of the NCLR (National Council of La Raza) Capital Awards, NCLR held its annual gala this evening at the National Building Museum in the District of Columbia, where the organization recognized Representative George Miller (D–CA), Paul W. Bridges, Republican Mayor of Uvalda, Georgia, and Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) for their unflagging commitment to the Latino community, especially Hispanic families, students and children. 

    “From a small ceremony in 1988, the NCLR Capital Awards has grown to become the oldest and largest Hispanic event of its kind. We are very proud to continue the tradition of honoring public officials and organizations from both sides of the aisle who are working hard on behalf of our community. Tonight’s honorees are some of the most steadfast and courageous allies Hispanics have in this great nation,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO.

    More than 750 government officials, Hispanic leaders, and community activists were in attendance for the gala, which was hosted by Natalie Morales, news anchor for NBC’s TODAY.
    NCLR’s Capital Awards recognizes politicians from both sides of the aisle, and this year NCLR chose to honor a politician outside of Congress. Mayor Bridges earned this distinction after stepping in to protect the farming community of Uvalda and its Hispanic residents by suing the state of Georgia over its dangerous anti-immigrant bill, HB 87.

    “I stand with NCLR to correctly show the value of the contributions made by Latino immigrants and the strength of new enthusiasm that comes via their influence,” said Mayor Bridges. “I am honored to receive the Capital Award—more than I can say. While this one is awesome to receive, my true reward will be when ‘the people’ are united families, free from fear of losing their loved ones from unjust deportations, free from the oppression of state-created ‘anti-immigration laws,’ and ensured of work environments that are safe and fair. My desire is that each person touched by this note to make a personal commitment to call the White House to decry the apathy at the pain and suffering shoveled onto Latinos, their extended families, and on those of us who see its incivility.”

    Meanwhile, the night’s other honoree, Rep. Miller, was recognized for his leadership as senior Democrat of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where he has consistently championed educational equity and opportunity for all children, including Hispanic and English language learner students, as well as children with disabilities. Rep. Miller has helped shape education policy from Head Start through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act.

    “I’m honored to be recognized by NCLR,” said Rep. Miller. “This organization really ‘gets it.’ NCLR’s members are fighting for our country’s future by fighting for our children—supporting investments in quality K–12 public schools and in early childhood education. Advocacy is one of the hardest jobs out there. And the advocacy that NCLR and its members carry out makes a huge difference not only for the Latino community but for our entire country.”

    NCLR also presented the 2012 Public Service Award to KIND for its efforts to help children who have come to the United States without a parent or legal guardian and who are unable to find or afford an attorney to represent them in immigration proceedings.

    “KIND is humbled by this great honor from NCLR, a leader in protecting the civil rights of Hispanic Americans,” said Brad Smith, KIND Board Co-Chair and Executive Vice President and General Counsel of Microsoft. “We accept this award on behalf of the thousands of unaccompanied children we serve with the help of our outstanding pro bono attorneys. These uniquely vulnerable children deserve a fair chance to make their claim for U.S. protection and to find safety and security, which many have not experienced in a long time, if ever. We thank NCLR for recognizing the work of KIND and our volunteers, and most importantly for acknowledging the vital due process needs of unaccompanied children in the United States.”

    The NCLR Capital Awards is the premier Hispanic event to recognize members of Congress and other leading legislators from both sides of the aisle for their outstanding support of public policies that are vital to Hispanic Americans. In addition, the Public Service Award honors others outside of Washington who courageously and tirelessly advocate on behalf of the Latino 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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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

    Contacto:
    Julián Teixeira
    (202) 776-1812

    Washington— Como parte de la conmemoración del vigésimo quinto aniversario de los premios Capital Awards, el Concilio Nacional de La Raza (NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés) ha llevado a cabo esta noche su Gala Anual en el National Building Museum en la ciudad de Washington DC. Durante esta importante actividad se ha rendido homenaje al representante George Miller, demócrata por el estado de California, al señor Paul W. Bridges, Alcalde republicano de la ciudad de Uvalda, Georgia y a la organización Kids In Need of Defense (KIND) por su compromiso con la comunidad latina y en específico por su apoyo incondicional a las familias hispanas, a los estudiantes y a los niños. 

    “Los premios Capital Awards del NCLR comenzaron como una sencilla ceremonia en 1988 y han crecido para convertirse hoy día en el evento hispano más grande y más antiguo de este tipo. Estamos sumamente orgullosos de continuar con esta tradición que rinde homenaje a los oficiales del servicio público y a las organizaciones, tanto de un lado como del otro, que trabajan para ayudar a nuestra comunidad. Los homenajeados durante esta noche se encuentran entre los más leales y valientes aliados con los que cuenta la comunidad hispana de esta gran nación”. Opinó la señora Janet Murguía, Presidenta y CEO del NCLR.


    Más de 750 oficiales gubernamentales, líderes hispanos y activistas comunitarios asistieron a la Gala. La maestra de ceremonias durante la actividad fue Natalie Morales, ancla de las noticias del programa TODAY de la cadenea NBC.

    Los premios Capital Awards del NCLR reconocen a políticos tanto republicanos como demócratas, y este año el NCLR ha escogido galardonar además, a un político que no es miembro del Congreso de los Estados Unidos. El señor Alcalde Bridges ha obtenido esta distinción por haber protegido a la comunidad agrícola de Uvalda así como a su comunidad hispana al presentar una demanda contra el estado de Georgia por la creación del proyecto de ley anti-inmigrante, HB 87.

    “Yo apoyo al NCLR por demostrar el verdadero valor de la contribución que hacen los inmigrantes latinos y por reconocer tanto la importancia y el entusiasmo que aportan cómo la influencia general que tienen en esta sociedad,” dijo el alcalde Bridges. “Es para mí un gran honor recibir el premio Capital Award—significa más de lo que pudiera decir. Aunque estoy encantado de recibir este premio, mi verdadera recompensa será ver cómo esta gente se reunifica con sus familias, cómo se liberan del temor de perder a sus seres queridos por causa de las deportaciones injustas, como se liberan de la opresión creada por proyectos anti- inmigrantes creados por el estado y cómo se les asegura un ambiente de trabajo justo y seguro. Yo exhorto a cada individuo que se conmueva con este tema a hacer un compromiso personal y llamar a la Casa Blanca para hacerles saber la apatía que sufren los latinos y sus familias extendidas y cómo esto nos afecta a todos los que nos damos cuenta de esta falta de civismo”.

    Otro de los galardonados durante la Gala fue el representante republicano Miller. El señor Miller ha sido reconocido por su liderato como parte del Comité de Educación y Trabajadores de la Cámara de Representantes, donde ha ofrecido un apoyo continuo a la equidad e igualdad en la educación y las oportunidades para todos los niños. Estas medidas han beneficiado directamente no sólo a los niños hispanos, sino también a otros niños que se encuentran en el proceso de aprender el idioma inglés, así como a muchos niños discapacitados. El representante Miller ha ayudado a desarrollar la política de educación para los programas de Head Start a través del Elementary and Secondary Education Act y del Higher Education Act.

    “Es para mí un honor ser reconocido por el NCLR” dijo el representante Miller. “Esta organización verdaderamente nos entiende. Los miembros del NCLR luchan por el futuro de nuestro país al luchar por nuestros niños; al apoyar inversiones en programas de alta calidad desde kindergarten hasta la escuela superior en las escuelas públicas y al promover programas de educación de temprana edad. El apoyo político a una causa es una de las labores más difíciles que existen. El apoyo de este tipo que lleva a cabo NCLR y sus miembros hace una gran diferencia, no sólo para la comunidad hispana sino también para todo nuestro país”.

    NCLR también otorgó el premio al servicio público o Public Service Award 2012 a la organización KIND por sus esfuerzos para ayudar y representar en los procesos legales de inmigración a aquellos menores que llegan a los Estados Unidos sin padres o tutores legales y que no tienen los medios para encontrar un abogado que los represente en estos procesos.

    “KIND recibe humildemente este gran honor por parte del NCLR a quienes consideramos un líder en la protección de los derechos civiles de la comunidad hispana de los Estados Unidos”, dijo el señor Brad Smith, miembro de la junta de KIND y vicepresidente ejecutivo de Microsoft. “Aceptamos este premio en representación de los miles de niños que llegan a los Estados Unidos sin padres ni tutores y a quienes servimos con la ayuda de nuestros destacados abogados voluntarios. Este grupo es uno particularmente vulnerable y merece una oportunidad justa de presentar sus reclamos de protección ante las cortes de los EEUU para de esta manera encontrar la seguridad que muchos no han tenido en mucho tiempo y que muchos otros no han tenido nunca antes. Le agradecemos al NCLR por reconocer el trabajo que realizan KIND y nuestros voluntarios. Pero sobre todo agradecemos el que reconozcan el debido proceso de ley al que tienen derecho estos niños que llegan a los Estados Unidos completamente solos”.

    Los premios NCLR Capital Awards se consideran como uno de los eventos de premiación hispanos más importante en los Estados Unidos. Es el evento más importante que lleva a cabo una organización hispana, de reconocimiento a los miembros del Congreso de los Estados Unidos y a otros legisladores, de ambos partidos políticos, por su destacado apoyo a los asuntos de política pública que son de vital importancia para los hispanoamericanos. Además, el Public Service Award rinde homenaje a otras organizaciones o políticos fuera de Washington DC quienes rinden apoyo incondicional a la comunidad latina de este país.

    El Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés) 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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    Clarissa Martinez de Castro, Director, Civic Engagement, NCLR

    In 2008 many new voters went to the polls for the first time—including about two million Latinos. But in the aftermath of the economic crisis, and with a Congress continually locked down in partisan battles, more and more people today are disenchanted or downright antagonistic toward government as a whole.

    There is no doubt we need our elected officials to be fully committed to governing in a way that allows Americans from every walk of life to achieve the American Dream. But who is going to make them stay true to that task?

    Antigovernment fervor is being used to undermine longstanding efforts to level the playing field for all Americans. Those efforts include making improvements in quality education, opening access to health care, and allowing Americans to house their families—all things that are now under assault. And if we cannot restore faith in democracy and government, all the gains we have made and seek to make in the future may be eroded and blocked.

    The Latino community is an untapped ally in this fight. Polling shows that:

    • Latinos believe, whether they identify as conservative or liberal, that government is an important partner and has a role to play in looking out for the well-being of the people.
    • Latinos believe in the importance of—and are willing to pay more taxes to have—good schools and quality education. The same is true where it comes to access to health care.

    Even so, as an overall younger and growing population, many Latinos are still not registered voters. We are adding about two million new voters to the electorate every four years, but our potential is significantly larger. In 2008 alone, 9.6 million Latino citizens of voting age were not registered to vote, and that number surpassed 10 million in 2010. And a significant number of Latinos who are registered report no meaningful outreach from parties or candidates—the most significant machines driving electoral activity.

    The good news is that strong institutions are stepping up to the plate. The lesson from 2008 is that an election alone is not enough of an impetus to continually drive Latinos to register and actually vote. We have to continue adding young people and new voters to the electorate, and we need to ensure that these voters have a way—and a reason—to stay active. NCLR has engaged in an intense, in-depth effort to contribute to that equation. We are combining our proven policy and advocacy track record with the most successful Latino voter engagement field model to create an approach that will build more voters and more advocates. We have the number one Latino-focused voter registration project in the country and have registered more than 220,000 Latinos since 2008. We also provide services that are culturally competent and grounded in local communities, thanks to the work we do with our nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations throughout the country that directly serve Latino families.

    We have had a chance to see this in action—working with organizations to increase their own capacity to do policy advocacy and encourage their constituents to register to vote.
    And we have seen the difference it can make in nurturing the leadership and activism of the community members who run our field canvassing campaigns, who have gone on to become captains and organizers, and are translating electoral organizing into issue advocacy.

    In addition, we are joining hands with sister organizations to ensure that our efforts maximize Hispanic voting participation in the upcoming election and beyond. The National Latino Civic Engagement Table (which includes the Center for Community Change, Mi Familia Vota, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and Voto Latino) aims to leverage our combined strengths and expertise, from field to digital to network organizing. And renewed collaboration with media partners through the ya es hora ¡Ve Y Vota! campaign will help us reach more Hispanic households and carry forth the message of the critical importance of civic participation.

    But we cannot achieve these results without the support of more allies. There is very real concern that voter registration as a whole, and particularly Latino registration, may be starved this year, replaced by the allure of superPACs and other direct campaign giving that, sadly, seldom produces new voters. Registering and mobilizing Latinos in communities across the country is intensive work, and it will take many hands—we need the support of individuals, organizations, foundations, and donors. That collaboration can turn disenchantment into the energy, enthusiasm, and activism that will restore our country to greatness.  


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    For Immediate Release:
    Contact: Paloma Zuleta

    (202) 833-6130 ext. 103 (O)
    (202) 812-4477 (C)

    LCLAA, LULAC, NCLR, and the Hispanic Federation help mark the 47th anniversary reenactment of the historic march

    Washington--Today, in front of the AFL-CIO headquarters, a delegation of Latino leaders, policymakers, and stakeholders boarded a bus routed to Selma, Alabama in order to participate in the reenactment of the historic civil rights marches of 1965. The Latino delegation will march alongside civil rights leaders in Selma and demand for the repeal of Alabama’s anti-Latino legislation, HB 56.

    The event known as “Bloody Sunday” was a historic event when 600 protesters were forced back by state troopers and local police with tear gas and clubs as they attempted to cross the Edmund Pettus Bridge over the Alabama River into Montgomery. Due to the police force brutality, over 50 people were hospitalized on March 7, 1965. Since that fateful day, thousands convene to retrace the steps of history by marching across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to remember the day that a group of unarmed men and women bravely stood their ground against blatant discrimination. Unfortunately, 47 years after “Bloody Sunday” we are still experiencing civil rights violations.

    “In 1965, the Selma to Montgomery March made history and changed America; it marked the peak of the civil rights movement. Today many states have launched an all-out coordinated assault on democracy by attacking workers’ rights, voting rights, public education and by promoting anti-immigrant legislation. Almost 50 years after the civil rights movement secured major gains immigrants are still fighting for basic rights and dignity. We will not permit any more policies that marginalize Latinos and their children and drive them out of jobs and communities,” stated Hector Sanchez, LCLAA’s Executive Director.

    “Today, 47 years after the passing of monumental legislation, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, immigrant men, women and children are degraded in our laws, and in our minds,” said LULAC National President Margaret Moran. “We can blame ourselves for the dehumanization of the undocumented community because we have allowed terms like “illegal alien” to identify their class. We march with our sister organizations and the African American community to make clear that although the Hispanic community is diverse and disagreements over comprehensive immigration reform and the Dream Act exist, we will not turn our backs and ignore the plight of the undocumented.”

    “In an extraordinary show of support from the African-American community, immigration is one of the key focal points of this year’s commemoration of the historic Selma to Montgomery march. The African-American community knows as we do that anti-immigrant laws and voter ID laws are really an all-out assault on civil rights. We are deeply proud to be marching with our African-American brothers and sisters and NCLR is very appreciative of the strong commitment from our sister Latino organizations to this important event,” stated Janet Murguia, NCLR President and CEO.

    “Today, as we set off to recreate this historic event and march for civil rights, we remember the thousands of individuals who have sacrificed everything to gain the right to vote. It is our solemn responsibility to protect this hard-fought right and ensure that every American citizen - regardless of race, ethnicity and income - is able to vote unimpeded and fully participate in our democracy,” stated Jose Calderon, Interim President of the Hispanic Federation.

    The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is the leading national organization for Latino(a) workers , that educates, empowers and increases opportunities for this diverse, dynamic and growing community. LCLAA was born in 1972 out of the need to inform Latinos about workers’ rights, raise national awareness regarding the issues that affect their well-being and increase their influence in the political process. LCLAA advocates and mobilizes our 52 chapters across the U.S. and Puerto Rico to strive for justice, economic equality, social dignity and a higher quality of life for Latinos and all working families.

    The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is a volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 900 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.lulac.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 Facebook and Twitter.

    The mission of the Hispanic Federation is to empower and advance the Hispanic community. The Hispanic Federation provides grants and services to a broad network of Latino non-profit agencies serving the most vulnerable members of the Hispanic community and advocates nationally with respect to the vital issues of education, health, immigration, economic empowerment, civic engagement and the environment.    


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    By Jennifer Ng’andu, Deputy Director, Health Policy Project, NCLR and
    Sergio Eduardo Muñoz, Senior Policy Analyst, Health Policy Project, NCLR

    It was one of the president’s most repeated selling points for health care reform: “If you like your health plan, you can keep it.” A selling point that acknowledged more than anything the 150 million American employees, 58% of the entire workforce, who have access to employer-sponsored health insurance (ESI) for themselves and their families and aren’t sure they want to mess with it. This type of private coverage has become so much the foundation of the health care system, many reform drafters thought it too ingrained to significantly change. The law instead sought to protect and bolster ESI with tax credits for small businesses, a requirement for large businesses to provide coverage, and the widely reported “individual mandate” penalty for workers who dismiss such coverage when offered. The continuity of ESI through health care reform is precisely why a recent Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulation is raising so many eyebrows. The proposed rule could make the widely popular benefit of family ESI unaffordable for millions of Americans, especially working Latino families. This is why NCLR joined this week’s “Fix the Family Glitch Advocates Letter” to the president and Congressional leadership seeking a solution, along with over one hundred other advocacy organizations. As recent congressional briefings, studies, and news stories agree, ESI family coverage needs to come down, not continue to spiral out of reach.

    The president’s slogan always was a strong nod of assurance for a nervous electorate accustomed to the predominant form of American health insurance. It wasn’t just spin; it was a reflection of the basic essence of the ACA. Health care reform was an attempt to patch and improve an existing system of public and private coverage, all delicately balanced and interlocked with ESI. These interdependent parts ensure that all who gain from reform also have a stake in the ACA—a shared responsibility under law. For large employers, this means contributing to the cost of subsidizing their employees’ purchase of health insurance in the Exchanges if those employees don’t have an offer of affordable ESI. For small employers, incentives in the form of tax credits are given if they provide ESI through an optional Exchange newly designed just for them. Employees have the individual responsibility to accept these affordable offers, and sign up.

    Unfortunately, on the way to making sure employees have quality health insurance, either through their employer or through the Exchanges, a pitfall developed around what precisely qualifies as an “affordable” offer of ESI. As anyone who has looked at their workplace coverage options knows, family coverage is usually a lot pricier than just enrolling in the self-only plan. But the ACA didn’t clearly state which type of ESI plan must prove affordable. Considering the ACA bars an employee from the Exchange if offered an affordable ESI plan, this lack of clarity represents a significant potential Catch-22. Proposed regulations last year took exactly this feared approach and pegged the test of affordability to individual ESI, potentially saddling employees with family plans beyond their means.

    So how does this play out for Latino workers and families? First and foremost, make no mistake: an unaffordable definition of affordability may be particularly difficult for Latinos due to their demographics and prospective gains from ESI. Hispanics are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group to pursue marriage and to have children in financially struggling families. Furthermore, the vast majority (84%) of uninsured Latinos live in families, a rate higher than their uninsured non-Hispanic White peers (69 %). Making ESI unaffordable for those Latinos who receive an offer of ESI—which they are required to accept—would be a peculiar and unintended side effect of a law that was supposed to make coverage affordable.

    Through advocacy with the Obama administration, detailed explanations have already been relayed as to why a careful read of the ACA shows that the affordability test should be applied to family, not self-only coverage. However, a simple appeal to the overall intent of health care reform to bring everyone fully in to the system should be sufficient. Members of families unable to afford ESI dependent plans, but unable to access the Exchange for affordable options, might very well forego family health insurance altogether, despite subsequent tax penalties. Drafters of a law meant to lower the uninsurance rate while simultaneously protecting the current form of ESI could not have intended such a result.

    Along with many allies seeking to maximize reform, NCLR has already submitted formal comments on this unaffordable affordability test and will continue to advocate for a fairer interpretation of the law that ensures access to affordable quality health insurance for all. The ACA went to great lengths to preserve the ESI system, even at the expense of competition between ESI and the Exchanges. But the deal for keeping the historical oddity that is ESI was that it would remain affordable. Otherwise, the effect may be to force people to keep health plans they don’t like. And that selling point definitely doesn’t have the same ring.


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  • 03/12/12--07:01: The @NCLR Weekly Top 10
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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    Washington—As civil rights leaders and advocates marched into Montgomery, Ala., last Friday, participants were overjoyed to learn that a federal appeals court had blocked two extreme provisions in Alabama’s anti-immigrant law, HB 56, which prevented individuals from entering into contracts with undocumented immigrants and banned state and local agencies from doing business with undocumented immigrants. NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is pleased that the courts took action against these egregious and downright dangerous provisions, heeding the calls of the thousands of people who marched from Selma to Montgomery last week and demanded an end to these discriminatory policies.

    “As news of the court decision trickled down the line of marchers, you could almost feel a jolt of energy reinvigorate the crowd as we entered Montgomery,” said Isabel Rubio, Executive Director of the Hispanic Interest Coalition of Alabama (¡HICA!), an NCLR Affiliate that is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against the law. “These are among the harshest provisions in HB 56, designed to make it impossible for immigrants to go about their day-to-day lives, whether that means accessing essential utilities like power and water or accessing justice through the enforcement of contracts in court. Blocking these provisions is a huge win and sends a message to the rest of the country that the rights that we are marching for should not and cannot be denied to our communities.”

    Rubio, along with NCLR Board Chair Daniel Ortega, participated in a rally at the Montgomery Capitol last Friday to close out the week-long reenactment of the 1965 march. Channeling the original marchers whose struggles ultimately led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, the participating civil rights groups are pushing back against the unjust voter ID laws and immigration laws, such as Alabama’s HB 56, that attempt to disenfranchise and discriminate against communities of color across the nation.

    “Voter suppression laws and profiling laws like HB 56 are not solutions, they are attempts to turn back the clock on civil rights,” said Ortega. “We can’t let that happen. Thanks to a lot of hard work and goodwill, we have been able to fight back against bigotry in Arizona. We intend to do the same in Alabama.”


    NCLR offers tremendous praise and gratitude to the thousands of civil rights organizations, leaders, and advocates who walked side by side throughout the week to demand an end to Alabama’s discriminatory laws.

    “In an extraordinary show of support from the African American community, immigration is one of the key focal points of this year’s commemoration of the historic Selma to Montgomery march,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO, who helped open the march last Sunday.

    Murguía marched with Congressman John Lewis (D–Ga.), Ethel Kennedy and her daughter Kerry, Rev. Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, Rev. Jesse Jackson, and a host of other civil rights leaders on Sunday—commemorating the 47th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery march and Bloody Sunday.

    “The Black community knows as we do that anti-immigrant laws and voter ID laws are really an all-out assault on civil rights,” Murguía added. “We are deeply proud to be marching with our African American brothers and sisters, and NCLR is very appreciative of the strong commitment from our sister Latino organizations to this important event.”

    Those who were unable to participate in the march can stand behind efforts to repeal Alabama’s HB 56 by signing this petition.

    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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    NCLR’s Institute for Hispanic Health (IHH) and the Health Policy Project (HPP) are happy to announce the first-ever NCLR Health Summit, “Health Communities for a Better Tomorrow.” This inaugural two-day event will happen in advance of the 2012 NCLR Annual Conference, and is brought to you with generous support from Eli Lilly.

    This Summit is designed to educate, empower, and encourage NCLR Affiliates and general Conference attendees to advocate for health issues important to the Latino community. It will also help generate a united voice for Latino-serving community based organizations. The Summit is ideal for administrators of community-based organizations, health educators, and health providers, but it is definitely not an exclusive event. Registration is open to all NCLR Conference attendees!

    The Summit has recently launched a Facebook group designed to help attendees meet each other in advance of the Summit. News and messages will also be communicated via that group, so be sure to join it. You can find the group here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/nclrhealthsummit/

    The Summit will focus on both policy and programming. On the first day, you’ll be briefed on the current state of health care reform as well as legislation centered on the effectiveness of community clinics. Some of the issues include:

    • Protecting Medicaid
    • Meeting the need of those that are under- or uninsured
    • Leading prevention and public health efforts that will result from health care reform

    On day two, you’ll have the opportunity to share your own success stories, network with other NCLR Affiliates facing similar challenges, and learn about some of IHH’s most effective programming efforts.

    Additional perks from the Summit include a FREE Social Media Training for those who sign up by June 1. Additionally, attendees have the chance to win a scholarship of up to $500. These scholarships are for qualified attendees who apply by May 17, 2012.

    Register now and find out more here.  


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    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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

    Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is pleased to announce that NBC has renewed its ALMA Awards partnership for a second year and will broadcast the 2012 NCLR ALMA Awards on Friday, September 21 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT. Celebrating national Hispanic Heritage Month, the one-hour prime-time special honors the nation’s premier Latino performers who promote accurate and positive images of Hispanics in entertainment. 

    “We are thrilled that Comcast and NBC have once again provided us a platform to pay tribute to those leaders in the Latino community who not only make contributions in the entertainment industry, but also push for greater representation and inclusion of Hispanics in the media as a whole,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. “Last year’s ceremony showcased the amazing talent that our community brings to music, television, and movies, and we are looking forward to an even more memorable and exciting show this year.”

    Since 1995, the NCLR ALMA Awards has honored outstanding Latino artistic achievements in television, film, and music. The show is an essential part of NCLR’s mission to create greater opportunities for Latino families in the U.S. As a national prime-time television entertainment special with a cause, the NCLR ALMA Awards demonstrates how diversity strengthens our country and inclusion strengthens the entertainment industry.

    “NBC is incredibly proud to once again serve as the home for this awards show,” said Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment. “We are fully committed to the [ALMA] goal of promoting diversity and inclusion among the entertainment industry and are excited to partner with NCLR to highlight the contributions that Hispanic artists have made over the past year.”

    NBCUniversal will partner once again with the NCLR ALMA Awards Executive Producers Eva Longoria, actress and activist, and Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO, to deliver another successful and dynamic show in 2012.

    For additional information, including announcements about the nominees and performers at this year’s event, as well as contests and sweepstakes, please visit www.almaawards.com or follow the show on Twitter at @ALMAawards. For embeddable clips and full episodes from NBC shows, please visit NBC’s official show site at www.nbc.com.

    NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Latinos. 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
    (202) 776-1812
    jteixeira@nclr.org

    Washington—NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is pleased to announce that NBC has renewed its ALMA Awards partnership for a second year and will broadcast the 2012 NCLR ALMA Awards on Friday, September 21 from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. EDT. Celebrating national Hispanic Heritage Month, the one-hour prime-time special honors the nation’s premier Latino performers who promote accurate and positive images of Hispanics in entertainment. 

    “We are thrilled that Comcast and NBC have once again provided us a platform to pay tribute to those leaders in the Latino community who not only make contributions in the entertainment industry, but also push for greater representation and inclusion of Hispanics in the media as a whole,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. “Last year’s ceremony showcased the amazing talent that our community brings to music, television, and movies, and we are looking forward to an even more memorable and exciting show this year.”

    Since 1995, the NCLR ALMA Awards has honored outstanding Latino artistic achievements in television, film, and music. The show is an essential part of NCLR’s mission to create greater opportunities for Latino families in the U.S. As a national prime-time television entertainment special with a cause, the NCLR ALMA Awards demonstrates how diversity strengthens our country and inclusion strengthens the entertainment industry.

    “NBC is incredibly proud to once again serve as the home for this awards show,” said Paul Telegdy, President, Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment. “We are fully committed to the [ALMA] goal of promoting diversity and inclusion among the entertainment industry and are excited to partner with NCLR to highlight the contributions that Hispanic artists have made over the past year.”

    NBCUniversal will partner once again with the NCLR ALMA Awards Executive Producers Eva Longoria, actress and activist, and Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO, to deliver another successful and dynamic show in 2012.

    For additional information, including announcements about the nominees and performers at this year’s event, as well as contests and sweepstakes, please visit www.almaawards.com or follow the show on Twitter at @ALMAawards. For embeddable clips and full episodes from NBC shows, please visit NBC’s official show site at www.nbc.com.

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

    # # #
         


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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

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

    EN HORARIOS DE MÁXIMA AUDIENCIA EL VIERNES 21 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 2012

    Washington—El NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza) se complace en anunciar que la cadena televisiva NBC ha renovado su convenio para la transmisión de los Premios ALMA 2012 del NCLR, el viernes 21 de septiembre de 20:00 a 21:00, hora estándar del este (EDT). Este programa especial de una hora, el cual se transmitirá en una hora de máxima audiencia, conmemorará el Mes de la Herencia Hispana y rendirá homenaje a los artistas latinos que proyectan imágenes veraces y positivas de la cultura hispana en el mundo del entretenimiento.

    “Nos entusiasma sobremanera que Comcast y la NBC nos brinden nuevamente una plataforma para reconocer a los líderes de la comunidad latina, no sólo por su aporte a la industria del entretenimiento sino además por su búsqueda de una mayor representación e inclusión de los hispanos en todos los medios de comunicación. En la ceremonia del año pasado se puso de manifiesto el enorme talento que nuestra comunidad aporta a la música, la televisión y el cine. Esperamos que este año el espectáculo sea aún más exitoso y memorable”, dijo Janet Murguía, Presidente y CEO del NCLR.

    Desde 1995, en el show de los Premios ALMA del NCLR se ha honrado los grandes éxitos de de destacados artistas latinos de la television, el cine y la música. Este espectáculo es parte esencial de la misión del NCLR de crear mayores oportunidades para las familias latinas en los Estados Unidos de América. Como un programa televisivo especial, emitido a nivel nacional en un horario de máxima audiencia, y con un propósito particular, los Premios ALMA del NCLR demuestran que la diversidad cultural fortalece nuestra nación y la inclusión enriquece la industria del entretenimiento.

    “La NBC es siente sumamente orgullosa de auspiciar nuevamente el show de los premios” dijo Paul Telegdy, Presidente de Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment. “Compartimos totalmente los objetivos de los Premios ALMA para promover la diversidad y la inclusión en el ámbito de la industria del entretenimiento y nos complace sobremanera unirnos al NCLR para destacar los éxitos que han alcanzado los artistas hispanos durante el año pasado”, agregó.

    NBCUniversal se asociará nuevamente con Eva Longoria, artista, activista y Productora Ejecutiva de los Premios ALMA del NCLR; y con Janet Murguía, Presidente y CEO de NCLR, para presentar en 2012 otro espectáculo dinámico y de alta calidad.

    Para obtener información adicional sobre los nominados y los presentadores que acudirán al evento de este año, así como los datos sobre los concursos y las rifas, por favor visite el sitio web www.almaawards.com o siga el programa en Twitter a través del usuario @ALMAawards. Para ver clips especiales y episodios completos de los programas de la NBC, visite la página oficial en www.nbc.com.

    El Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés) —la organización nacional más grade de apoyo y defensa de los derechos civiles de los hispanos en los Estados Unidos—trabaja parar mejorar oportunidades de los hispanos. Para mayor información sobre el NCLR, por favor visite www.nclr.org o síganos en Facebook y Twitter.

    # # #


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    PARA DIFUSIÓN INMEDIATA

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

    EN HORARIOS DE MÁXIMA AUDIENCIA EL VIERNES 21 DE SEPTIEMBRE DE 2012

    Washington—El NCLR (Consejo Nacional de La Raza) se complace en anunciar que la cadena televisiva NBC ha renovado su convenio para la transmisión de los Premios ALMA 2012 del NCLR, el viernes 21 de septiembre de 20:00 a 21:00, hora estándar del este (EDT). Este programa especial de una hora, el cual se transmitirá en una hora de máxima audiencia, conmemorará el Mes de la Herencia Hispana y rendirá homenaje a los artistas latinos que proyectan imágenes veraces y positivas de la cultura hispana en el mundo del entretenimiento.

    “Nos entusiasma sobremanera que Comcast y la NBC nos brinden nuevamente una plataforma para reconocer a los líderes de la comunidad latina, no sólo por su aporte a la industria del entretenimiento sino además por su búsqueda de una mayor representación e inclusión de los hispanos en todos los medios de comunicación. En la ceremonia del año pasado se puso de manifiesto el enorme talento que nuestra comunidad aporta a la música, la televisión y el cine. Esperamos que este año el espectáculo sea aún más exitoso y memorable”, dijo Janet Murguía, Presidente y CEO del NCLR.

    Desde 1995, en el show de los Premios ALMA del NCLR se ha honrado los grandes éxitos de de destacados artistas latinos de la television, el cine y la música. Este espectáculo es parte esencial de la misión del NCLR de crear mayores oportunidades para las familias latinas en los Estados Unidos de América. Como un programa televisivo especial, emitido a nivel nacional en un horario de máxima audiencia, y con un propósito particular, los Premios ALMA del NCLR demuestran que la diversidad cultural fortalece nuestra nación y la inclusión enriquece la industria del entretenimiento.

    “La NBC es siente sumamente orgullosa de auspiciar nuevamente el show de los premios” dijo Paul Telegdy, Presidente de Alternative and Late Night Programming, NBC Entertainment. “Compartimos totalmente los objetivos de los Premios ALMA para promover la diversidad y la inclusión en el ámbito de la industria del entretenimiento y nos complace sobremanera unirnos al NCLR para destacar los éxitos que han alcanzado los artistas hispanos durante el año pasado”, agregó.

    NBCUniversal se asociará nuevamente con Eva Longoria, artista, activista y Productora Ejecutiva de los Premios ALMA del NCLR; y con Janet Murguía, Presidente y CEO de NCLR, para presentar en 2012 otro espectáculo dinámico y de alta calidad.

    Para obtener información adicional sobre los nominados y los presentadores que acudirán al evento de este año, así como los datos sobre los concursos y las rifas, por favor visite el sitio web www.almaawards.com o siga el programa en Twitter a través del usuario @ALMAawards. Para ver clips especiales y episodios completos de los programas de la NBC, visite la página oficial en www.nbc.com.

    El Consejo Nacional de La Raza (NCLR, por sus siglas en inglés) —la organización nacional más grade de apoyo y defensa de los derechos civiles de los hispanos en los Estados Unidos—trabaja parar mejorar oportunidades de los hispanos. Para mayor información sobre el NCLR, por favor visite www.nclr.org o síganos en Facebook y Twitter.

    # # #


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