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LULAC Stops Anti-Immigrant Amendments with Community Action Alert

Posted on 04/25/2015 @ 12:45 AM

By: Luis Torres, LULAC National, Director of Policy and Legislation

Late Monday evening, news broke that a “deal” had been reached in the Senate that would pave the way for a vote on the long-stalled human trafficking bill (The Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015) and the confirmation vote for Loretta Lynch as Attorney General. As a condition on moving forward with those two items, a group of extremist senators called for votes on several anti-immigrant amendments to be added to the anti-trafficking act.

Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Thom Tillis (R-FL) spearheaded the push to pass amendments that would:

-Require unnecessary and excessive spending on indefinite detention of immigrants.

-Strip critical protections for refugee children from Latin America, making it easier to deport these innocent children who left their native country to escape violence, poverty, and drugs.

-Deny countless U.S.-born Latino children of immigrant parents their citizenship rights afforded to them under the U.S. Constitution.


The extreme anti-immigrant sentiments represented in the amendments are not viable solutions to fix our country’s broken immigration system and were a completely unacceptable demand of any potential “deal” reached with regards to the legislation and confirmation. LULAC National quickly took action, sending a letter urging the Senate to reject any anti-immigrant amendments should they make their way to the floor. Read the letter here.

LULAC MOBILIZES

As part of LULAC’s advocacy efforts to defeat these amendments, tweets and emails were sent out to all 100 Senators from LULAC National. Calls were also placed to key staff members for moderate Democratic and Republican senators who might be on the fence regarding these amendments, in the hope that they would oppose them. Finally, LULAC National issued an action alert to its thousands of e-members – urging them to contact their Senators and tell them that these amendments would not be an acceptable component of any deal brokered for a vote on the human trafficking bill or the confirmation of Loretta Lynch. Hundreds of people responded to the LULAC action alert in a matter of hours, sending emails to Senators from across the country expressing their opposition to the amendments.

Ten hours after mobilizing LULAC’s membership to take action, top Senate staffers notified LULAC National that all anti-immigrant amendments slated to be proposed to the human trafficking bill had been eliminated from the amendment list. Furthermore, on Thursday April 23, in a historic victory for civil rights, Loretta Lynch was confirmed as Attorney General of the United States, becoming the first black woman to hold the position and head the US Department of Justice. Both cases show just how powerful we can be when we take action and let our elected officials know what issues are important to us.

The fight isn’t over and these amendments are expected to return in the future. If anything, this shows the power of our voice and that when we all take action, our leaders take notice. LULAC National urges advocates to sign-up to be a LULAC e-member to receive our action alerts and help LULAC continue advocating on behalf of the Latino community.

To sign up to be an e-member, Click here.

Action Alerts are frequently posted on LULAC’s social media networks. To like our facebook page, click here. To follow us on twitter, click here.

Luis Torres is the Director of Policy and Legislation for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Prior to LULAC, he served as Legislative Director for Congressman Silvestre Reyes, former-Chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and was one of a handful of Latino Legislative Directors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, Torres also served as a high school teacher in Washington, D.C. as part of Teach for America. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Sociology from Georgetown University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from American University.

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Rewrite of ESEA Bill Doesn’t Address Educational Needs of Minority Students

Posted on 04/21/2015 @ 12:45 AM

Photo credit: Advance the Struggle

By: Luis Torres, LULAC National, Director of Policy and Legislation

Last week, the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee passed a preliminary rewrite of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). By the end of the relatively calm session, the committee announced its bipartisan support of the new Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA), which was passed through the committee without a single dissenting voice from either side.

Some major differences between the ECAA and the expired No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Law:

• Eliminates adequately yearly progress (AYP) for schools
• Eliminates supplemental educational services
• Eliminates public school choice for low-performing schools

Major differences between ECAA and the existing Department of Education waiver policy:

• No requirement for bottom 5 percent of schools to be identified
• No priority schools
• No requirement for teacher evaluations
• No requirement for high schools with low graduation rates to be identified for improvement

MAJOR ISSUES WITH THE BILL REMAIN – UNANIMOUS VOTE BY SENATE PANEL DISAPPOINTS CIVIL RIGHTS COMMUNITY

While a rewrite of No Child Left Behind is desperately needed, the current version of ECAA fails to sufficiently address major issues, such as the lack of subgroup accountability in the Title I portion of the ECAA. LULAC strongly urged Senators to include language that would require interventions when Latino students and other underserved student populations fall through the cracks. Additionally, LULAC supported the inclusion of language that would identify triggers for required interventions and additional measures to target schools with high drop-out rates.

LULAC joined several civil rights groups in sending letters to the Senate HELP Committee urging their support for these critical issues:

• 4/13/15- LULAC joined other organizations in sending letter opposing private school vouchers in the Every Child Achieves Act to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate HELP committee. Click here to view the letter.

• 4/13/15- LULAC joined other organizations in sending letter in support of reforming the Every Child Achieves Act to Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray of the Senate HELP committee. Click here to view the letter.

• 4/13/15- LULAC joined other organizations in sending letter in support of the Student Non-Discrimination Act to the Senate HELP Committee. Click here to view the letter.

• 2/2/2015: LULAC joined MALDEF, SEARAC, and other civil rights groups in sending coalition letter to Senate HELP Committee detailing priorities and principles for the reauthorization of ESEA. Read the letter here.

• 1/29/2015: LULAC signed on to civil rights education coalition letter to Senate HELP Committee detailing priorities and principles for the reauthorization of ESEA. Read the letter here.

• 1/12/2015: As Co-Chair of the Hispanic Education Coalition, LULAC sent a letter to U.S. Senate HELP Committee outlining priorities for the upcoming ESEA Reauthorization. Read the letter here.

Despite this feedback, LULAC’s supported language was not included in the ECAA and because of this, LULAC National urged Senators to oppose approving the bill out of committee. Moving forward, LULAC will continue to monitor ECAA and work with Senators as the bill makes it way to the floor. We will continue to oppose the bill without any significant changes.

To watch video of the mark-up, click here.

For a comprehensive list of all amendments that passed, failed, or were withdrawn, consult the following EdWeek article here on the final bill.

Luis Torres is the Director of Policy and Legislation for the League of United Latin American Citizens. Prior to LULAC, he served as Legislative Director for Congressman Silvestre Reyes, former-Chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and was one of a handful of Latino Legislative Directors in the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, Torres also served as a high school teacher in Washington, D.C. as part of Teach for America. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Government and Sociology from Georgetown University, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from American University.

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