Latino Groups Issue House of Representatives "Incomplete" Grade on Immigration and a Pledge Card for ActionDecember 10, 2013
Contact: Paloma Zuleta at PZuleta (at) LULAC.org or 202-812-4477
Report cards to be issued to Latino communities before 2014 election
WASHINGTON, D.C. – National Latino organizations engaged in voter education and registration efforts today reported how the 113th Congress—including every member of the House of Representatives and the Senate—has dealt with the issue of immigration so far. The mid-term report card gives a “green checkmark” to the U.S. Senate for passing comprehensive immigration reform legislation earlier this year. However, the House of Representatives receives only an “I” for incomplete because it has not acted on reform except for a spending vote to undo the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which would result in the deportation of all DREAMers. Therefore, the only vote allowed on the House floor to date was one to kill an overwhelmingly popular initiative among Latino and many other voters.
The mid-term report puts Congress on notice that these organizations will be “scoring” all upcoming votes related to immigration in 2014 and providing this information to the Hispanic community. In the meantime, the groups are delivering a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner, signed by over 200 Latino organizations, urging action on immigration reform. They will also distribute pledge cards to individual members of the House asking them to commit to advancing reform.
The organizations include the Hispanic Federation, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, NALEO Educational Fund, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) and Voto Latino. Each of these organizations is active in civic engagement campaigns that include citizenship drives, voter registration and mobilization and immigration advocacy. There were 1.5 million more Latino voters in 2012 than in 2008, compared with a decrease of two million voters among non-Hispanic Whites during this time. The Latino electorate will continue growing at a fast pace, with an average of 880,000 Latino citizens turning 18 every year for the next 15 years.
“Today’s progress report essentially means we are calling in the House leadership for a parentteacher conference. The ‘caution mark’ means the House still has time to redeem itself on immigration, but needs to turn around their performance and show immediate progress in order for individual House members to make the grade with Latino voters and with the nation,” said Bertha Alisia Guerrero, Director of National Advocacy, Hispanic Federation. “In the short run, individual members can improve their standing by co-sponsoring H.R. 15 or signing a pledge stating their support for reform and publicly committing to move it forward, but the final grade will be based on whether reform is achieved.”
“How Congress handles immigration during the next dozen months will go a long way toward determining national politics for the next dozen years,” said Clarissa Martinez-De-Castro, Director of Civic Engagement and Immigration, NCLR. “Every serious political and media observer saw that the Hispanic vote and immigration were decisive, game-changing factors in the 2012 national election outcome. So far, only one chamber has reacted to the new electoral reality and taken action to fix our immigration system in a bipartisan and politically popular manner. Today’s progress report reminds Congress that we are monitoring their actions, or lack thereof, and will issue a formal evaluation of how they address one of the greatest concerns in our community.”
“The Latino community’s commitment to immigration reform has only grown stronger since the 2012 election. Last week, Cristian Avila, a Mi Familia Vota team member from Arizona and a DREAMer, ended 22 days of fasting—as others stepped in—to put a human face on the immorality of the current immigration system and Congress’s inaction. During 2013, our groups have continued building the Latino electorate through citizenship workshops, voter registration, education and mobilization campaigns. We have rallied, marched and pressed members of Congress for reform. We will grow even stronger next year, and if members do not want F’s on their report cards that we deliver to the community, they need to deliver quickly and responsibly on comprehensive immigration reform," said Ben Monterroso, Executive Director of Mi Familia Vota Education Fund.
“Latino voters accounted for 8.4 percent of all voters in the 2012 election, making a decisive impact in the race for the White House and other state and municipal contests,” said Max Sevillia, Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs, NALEO Educational Fund. “In the lead-up to Election Day, the Latino community’s political influence will continue to grow, with the eligible Latino electorate set to reach 25.2 million. Immigration is a deeply personal issue for Latino voters, and our growing electorate will be closely monitoring legislative movement on this issue in Congress in the coming months.”
“For Latinos, immigration is personal,” said Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of Voto Latino. “We work with Latino millennials, who are fueling the accelerated growth of our community’s electorate with an average of 880,000 young Latinos turning 18 every year and know that the choices Congress makes today have a powerful effect on shaping these new and future voters’ political map. These young voters are engaged and are seeing their family and friends suffer the consequences of inaction, even though the votes exist to end our nation’s immigration crisis. How Congress handles the immigration issue now will have a huge impact on political elections for years to come.”
“Immigration reform is clearly a morally and politically defining issue for Latinos, but the benefits go way beyond politics,” said Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of LULAC. “The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated immigration reform would reduce the deficit by $200 billion and increase GDP by $700 billion in the first decade, while inaction is depriving the nation of these economic benefits. As Congress continues budget negotiations the politicians must understand how immediate action on immigration reform can help build our economy and create jobs.”
“It is time to act,” said Hector Sanchez, Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement. “We know the votes exist in the House to get this done, and the time for obstruction is over. There is no way to avoid this issue because labor, faith and community groups are united, and we and our allies across the political spectrum are bringing the voice and action of our communities and constituents to the doorstep of Congress. Nobody is off the hook and even with a bill passed in the Senate, nobody is unfurling a ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner for any party or politician. The damage caused by our broken immigration system is too high—every single day—to keep wasting time on the road to reform.”
“I support immigration reform that includes a clear road map to earned citizenship for hardworking, tax-paying immigrants; keeps families together; promotes the full integration of newcomers into American society; and creates an internal and border law enforcement regimen that focuses on preventing criminals, drug cartels and other bad actors from entering the U.S. or engaging in criminal activities. I also call on House leadership to schedule a vote on immigration reform.”
The Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) is the leading national organization for Latino(a) workers and their families. LCLAA represents the interest of more than 2 million Latino workers in the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), The Change to Win Federation, Independent Unions and all its membership. Visit LCLAA on the web at www.lclaa.org, on Facebook and Twitter.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteerbased 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.
Mi Familia Vota is a national non-profit organization that unites Latino, immigrant, and allied communities to promote social and economic justice through increased civic participation by promoting citizenship, voter registration, and voter participation. Mi Familia Vota is one of the premiere Latino civic engagement organizations in the country with operations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Nevada, and Texas. Visit online: www.mifamiliavota.org
NALEO Educational Fund is the nation's leading non-partisan, non-profit organization that facilitates the full participation of Latinos in the American political process, from citizenship to public service. Visit us online: www.naleo.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.
Voto Latino is a national civic engagement organization that celebrates 10 years in 2014 of galvanizing Latino Millennials and their family members and friends into the political process to effect positive change. United by the belief that Latino issues are American issues and American issues are Latino issues, Voto Latino has influenced millions of Latino Millennials through its digital and traditional media campaigns, through the tireless work of its artist coalition, and the organization’s leadership initiatives. To learn more about Voto Latino, visit www.VotoLatino.org. Also engage Voto Latino on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VotoLatino, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/VotoLatino and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/VotoLatino.