Executive Director Wilkes: Texas Republican Senate Nominee Ted Cruz and the Latino Community

By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 08/21/2012 @ 01:08 PM

The Texas Observer states, "Republican Senate nominee Ted Cruz’s controversial positions on a range of issues from immigration to voter ID could also make outreach to the Latino community a significant challenge." On Friday, August 17, 2012, The Texas Observer interviewed Executive Director of LULAC, Brent Wilkes, who examines this statement.

Cruz Lines

Republican Senate nominee Ted Cruz thinks he’s right for the Latino community. Do Texas Latinos think he's right for them?

The national Hispanic unemployment rate is at 11 percent and according to the latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, the poverty rate for Hispanics is over 26 percent. A recent study conducted by the Texas Politics Project found that 25 percent of the Hispanic population in Texas is considered poor. But these depressing numbers don’t seem to faze the pull-yourself-up-by-your-Cuban-American-bootstraps Ted Cruz. Last week the former state solicitor general and Republican Senate nominee denounced the president’s welfare policies as keeping poor people “trapped in dependency” while attempting to gut the bipartisan welfare reform bill and welfare-to-work initiative passed under the Clinton administration.

“We are not doing anybody a favor by giving them welfare in perpetuity and making them dependent on government,” Cruz said. Apparently the clandestine radical socialist agenda being pushed by the Obama administration is slowly destroying the Latino community that Cruz purports to represent. Appearing on Fox News, Cruz stated with confidence that Hispanics share his conservative values and strong work ethic because he has never seen a Hispanic panhandler. This random non-fact serves to validate Cruz’s central argument that Hispanics may be unemployed, they may be struggling to put food on the table, they may have lost their homes but at least their cultural pride and sense of honor keep them from begging on street corners or, God forbid, accepting temporary government assistance. Throwing out unfounded quips about the ethnicity of panhandlers is just so much easier than addressing the real issues and challenges facing the Latino community. Especially when you’re a highly paid partner in a law firm with cushy benefits and health insurance.

The Texas Food Bank Network reported that 44 percent of its food applicants in 2010 were Hispanic. An estimated 38 percent of Hispanics in Texas lack health insurance. Naturally Cruz and his fellow Republicans have pledged to overhaul the Affordable Care Act and its Medicaid expansion even though 22 percent of Texas Hispanics are currently covered by the program. Does seeking assistance make Hispanics who were disproportionately hit hard by the economy any less honorable?

“[Cruz] is a pretty impressive gentleman with credibility and a great personal story,” said Brent Wilkes, the national executive director for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). “But we certainly have disagreements with him about the role of [government] programs and the role of government in our society. He seems very focused on eliminating programs that help people contribute to the economy and are very much worth the expense.”

Cruz’s controversial positions on a range of issues from immigration to voter ID could also make outreach to the Latino community a significant challenge. During his campaign he said he opposes so-called “amnesty” for undocumented immigrants and came out against the DREAM Act, a cause which our own governor championed. Cruz also intends to introduce a bill that would triple the size of the U.S. Border Patrol. (See? The federal government isn’t always bad.) As an adamant supporter of photo ID legislation Cruz points to voter fraud as the main threat to our democratic process. As opposed to, you know, encouraging more Latinos to participate in that democratic process.

Democrat-turned-Republican Aaron Peña, who did not seek reelection this year, views Cruz’s victory as a positive thing for the Latino community. “The election of Cruz and other Hispanic conservatives forces the Democratic party to come into the 21st century,” Peña said. “We win when they compete for our vote. Now we have a real competition and Cruz is part of that. This debate will transform both parties.” And in Peña’s opinion Cruz’s win is yet another example of Republicans breaking down institutional barriers.

But LULAC’s Wilkes believes that more Latinos would support Latino candidates like Cruz if they weren’t so divisive. “On the issue of immigration, there certainly can be some argument on what the right level should be but you get the distinct impression that [Republicans] don’t like Latinos,” he said. “The way they talk about some issues like English-only legislation, they’re really talking about the [Latino] culture being inferior. They come across as a party pushing Latinos away.”

Hate Crimes Surge in U.S. by more than 70%

By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 08/14/2012 @ 03:30 PM

In an interview with Radio Francia Internacional, LULAC National President Margaret Moran expresses grave concern for the dramatic surge of hate crimes in the U.S.

Raphael Morán of Radio Francia Internacional interviewed LULAC National President Margaret Moran on Friday, August 10 to discuss the surge of hate crimes in the United States.

The country has experienced significant demographic developments. In the U.S. Latinos have surged in numbers, making up a sizeable 16% of the population. Black Americans make up nearly 14% of the population; Asians are 4%. That’s not even all of the minorities that reside in the country, but the idea comes across—we are changing. We are truly a mixture of races with a variety of cultures and beliefs.

According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, hate groups have seen nearly a 70% rise since 2000, when they totaled no more than 600. Disturbingly, there are also 1,018 hate groups in the nation as of 2010. The growth coincided with the release of the U.S. Census projection that in thirty years, non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the majority. The realization that the white non-Hispanic population will be a minority in the future incites fear and panic among those who feel the effects of the worsening economy.

The First Amendment doesn’t protect us against racist rhetoric. Until an individual actually threatens or harms another, the law doesn’t render any protection to the victim.

Radio host Raphael Morán asked, “Has the welcoming spirit that has characterized the American Dream been abandoned?” National President Moran answered, “As Americans, we want more than just tolerance. All Americans have the same rights and privileges. Being tolerated or simply put up with, without acceptance, without being embraced in the community is unacceptable treatment for ANY American.”

LULAC, a civil rights organization that has propagated American values since its founding in 1929, understands all too well crimes driven by hatred. We work to improve the 16% of the U.S. population that is of Latino descent. We strive to get computer donations to close the digital divide. We work for grants and scholarships to pass onto all youth—regardless of race. We collaborate with and petition to state and federal governments to improve access to health care. We work hard to assure that civil rights are equally dispensed in accordance with the law. We are working to improve the social conditions for the Hispanic Americans in the United States.

Technological Justice: Continuing Digital Inclusion for Latinos with Redemtech

By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 08/09/2012 @ 03:30 PM

How often do we think about the evolution of communication? The digital era has brought forth an information revolution with technology making communications instantaneous and effortless. In today’s world, 500 million people have a Facebook account. People send more than 140 Tweets per day. You’re in front of a computer right now.

As technology has sped up, not everyone has kept up. One-third of Americans – 100 million people – haven’t adopted broadband at home. They have dried out in a barren desert of print-only sources, rigidly sticking to print newspapers, brochures, and books, or, most disturbingly, they have been unable to transition because of external barriers. Nearly 60% of low-income households do not have a desktop or laptop computer and 36% of Americans without broadband cite the cost of a computer as a major barrier to adoption. Among Latinos, about 50% have a broadband connection, compared with nearly 70% of the general population.

LULAC however is adaptable. Because we are made up of passionate volunteers, staff, and partners, working through a nationwide network of grassroots councils, we can adapt to the world around us because we are the world around us! United as an organization, we in conjunction with partners like Redemtech help Latinos help themselves.

In an attempt to close the gaping hole of technology need, the announcement of computing recycling company Redemtech was enthusiastically received.  200 refurbished computers will be donated for LULAC to use in their technology centers that work to provide counseling services, job skills, and literacy training to students, parents, and low-income students, all free of charge.

Annually, more than 17 million used-but-still-useful corporate PCs go to waste due to premature disposal or warehouse shelving. Redemtech commercially recycles computers and other technology that businesses no longer need and addresses the associated risks of donation like data security, environmental compliance, and software licensing. The same security precautions that they take with computers of banking institutions and of large insurance companies will be applied to your donated computer.

Why don’t you reach out to donate your unused technology today? Put it to good use by clicking here for more info.

Important Information for DREAM Act Youth

By Jossie Flor Sapunar on 07/26/2012 @ 01:08 PM

Tags: immigration

LULAC advises eligible individuals NOT to submit a deferred action request under the Deferred Action Process for Young People memorandum issued by Secretary Napolitano on June 15. If you submit now, your application will be rejected. The Secretary’s directive gives USCIS 60 days to create a process to accept these requests and USCIS is unable to accept requests at this time. Please continue to check their website for updates.

Over the past three years, this Administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform the immigration enforcement system into one that focuses on public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system. As DHS continues to focus its limited enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, including aliens convicted of crimes, with particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders, DHS will move to exercise prosecutorial discretion to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who were brought to this country through no fault of their own as children, have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanor offenses, and meet other key criteria.

Effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or entered into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.

Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.

While this guidance takes effect immediately, USCIS and ICE expect to begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days. Do not apply - this application process is not yet available. If you apply early, your application will be rejected. Beginning June18, 2012 and available now, individuals can call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours with questions or to request more information on the forthcoming process.

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