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LULAC Convention Focused on Unity in a Diverse America Henry Cisneros, Henry Cuellar and Victoria Neave Encouraged Advocacy

July 6, 2017

San Antonio, Texas – The Unity Luncheon at the 88th Annual National LULAC Convention reflected the strength in diversity of our country today. Addressing the crowded ballroom at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in downtown San Antonio were three Latino elected officials. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Member, U.S. House of Representatives; Henry G. Cisneros, Former Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development; and Victoria Neave, Member, Texas House of Representatives. All spoke about the benefits of unity amidst challenging current events.

Cisneros, considered by many to be a hometown hero, was the first Latino to serve as Mayor of San Antonio. He was first elected in 1981, and re-elected four times, for a total of eight years of service. Now, he focuses more on national issues, many of which require crossing party lines to have success. Cisneros is a board member of the Bipartisan Policy Center and co-chair of its Immigration Task Force along with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former governors Haley Barbour and Ed Rendell. He also acknowledged the need to unite with other immigrant and minority communities.

“In the 1920s, Latinos in the United States needed a voice. It was a period like one we live in today. Border instabilities. Economic disruptions. International concerns and discrimination and prejudice against American Latinos,” Cisneros said. “But in 1929, there came into existence the Latino advocacy group that was the loudest voice. The oldest, longest serving, most consistent voice of the Latino community: LULAC.”

“It is not smart for America to allow the targeting of Latinos,” he continued. “We have a president that doesn't understand…so many good things have come out of the immigrant tradition. And to talk about a wall…is completely unacceptable. LULAC, whose voice we have always counted on, will not be silenced. It cannot be. It is wrong for our country. It is hateful and damaging to our people. But it is wrong and damaging to the future of America.”

State representative Neave spoke about the unprecedented challenges for immigrants now. Her father was undocumented when he entered this country with a dream for a better life. When Neave was just 15, she joined her father as an active LULAC member in Dallas, Texas. She said the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization opened doors for her.

“I’m honored to stand before you as someone who grew up in this organization. Now, more than ever, we need you to unite and stand with our allies and fight for our community. Rise up and fight back and say enough is enough.”

“Almost all citizens of the United States are immigrants, or the descendants of immigrants, and each new generation of immigrants has reinvigorated our nation with the values and work ethic that has made America great,” said LULAC Chief Executive Officer Brent Wilkes. “Our common experience has demonstrated that immigration is good for America, whether your ancestors arrived before the Declaration of Independence or just a generation ago.”

Congressman Cuellar, several times, mentioned that success must be achieved by crossing party lines. Only bipartisan approaches will be successful, he stated.

“A wall is a 14th century solution to a 21st century. When we talk about the border, it has to be a secure border that works for both sides. We have to look at Mexico as a friend, not as an enemy.”

Since its founding 88 years ago, LULAC has been a nonpartisan group that does not hesitate to take a stand on issues facing Latinos, and Americans in general. LULAC supports the expansion of leadership development programs for immigrants, women and minorities and encourages more people of color to run for public office.

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The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 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.

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