LULAC National President Domingo Garcia And President Biden Discuss Uvalde Tragedy In A Meeting At The White House
Nation’s Largest and Oldest Latino Civil Rights Organization Secures Commitment for Presidential Visit to Texas and Issues Letter to Congressional Leaders on Gun Reforms
Washington, DC - The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) met with President Biden in the East Room of the White House Wednesday for a historical encounter culminating the journey they started last February. Domingo Garcia, LULAC National President, and Ray Velarde, LULAC General Counsel, witnessed the signing of an executive order on policing and criminal justice reform they helped shape and which the Biden Administration acknowledged. The President’s action coincided with the second anniversary of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis at the hands of police officers. The executive order sets out equal treatment, respecting human dignity, and building trust as principal pillars of the new mandate. Also, a thorough examination and revision of police training and practices with community partnerships that foster public safety.
Domingo Garcia had a one-on-one conversation with President Biden, during which they talked about the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas. Garcia extended a personal invitation from LULAC to President Biden to travel to Uvalde, Texas, which the President accepted and said arrangements would be made for a trip in coming days.
“LULAC is also recommending two major reforms on gun legislation in a letter we sent to leaders of both House and Senate parties,” says Garcia. “First, the minimum legal age for buying firearms is raised to 21-years-old. Also, we propose mandated universal background checks for all gun purchases. We must know who is buying firearms and make sure there is not a valid reason to keep them from owning a weapon, including a prior history of violence or mental illness,” he said.
“This executive order is a policy statement designed to be adhered to by ALL federal agencies, including the FBI, DEA, Homeland Security, and more,” says Velarde, who authored the landmark policy letter to the President urging the adoption of pretrial intervention in the criminal justice process. “LULAC can rely on the power of the executive order to advocate and lobby all these federal agencies, primarily the Department of Justice. I am up for the challenge,” he added.
“This visit marked a wonderful and beautiful moment in LULAC’s history,” says Sindy Benavides, LULAC National Chief Executive Officer. “Our discussions at the White House with President Biden and other leaders signifies it is vital to include and listen to the Latino voice alongside transformative movements like Black Lives Matter. Also, our unity as Black and Latino communities can help create positive reforms in our nation’s policing policies and public safety for all people in America,” she added.
Last February, Velarde’s letter to the White House cited the success of the Adelante Program launched by Federal Judge Frank Montalvo in the Western District of El Paso, Texas. “The program supervises defendants using a hands-on approach designed to break down anti-social behavior patterns. Defendants receive treatment as a condition of diversion, address the reasons for their arrest, and are provided the opportunity to change their behavior and habits to reduce the likelihood of recidivism. Upon successful completion of the program, the pending charges are dismissed.” Velarde summarized the White House visit as “the culmination of advocating for the adoption of meaningful change that offers Latinos in the criminal justice system a reason for hope. This meeting with President Biden made all the arduous work well worth it.”
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 https://lulac.org/