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Archive for April, 2009

(Washington DC) – The Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) today blasted a video posted on the official House website of Minority Leader John Boehner’s website. Interwoven in between images of the Pentagon on fire after the attacks of 9/11 and terrorists burning American flags and firing missiles is a picture of the CHC meeting with President Barack Obama. The insinuation that the CHC or the Hispanic community should be feared is troubling to the Members of the Caucus and another example of just how out of touch the GOP is.

“Latinos contribute to the progress of this nation, and have a long standing history of serving of our country,” said Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, Chairwoman of the CHC. “The video posted on Congressman John Boehner’s official website is a completely inappropriate message for the leader of the minority party to send to the American people. It’s disrespectful to the hard-working Latinos across the nation, serving in every sector of our economy and on our military’s front lines. The CHC demands an apology from the Minority Leader for this insensitivity and that the video be removed immediately.”

The CHC has sent a letter to the Minority Leader requesting an apology and that the video be removed immediately.

http://velazquez.house.gov/chc

to view video: http://gopleader.gov or

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chc

On Wednesday afternoon the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) convened a hearing entitled “The State of Latino Education”. The hearing was chaired by Rep. Raul Grijalva, chairman of the Education and Job Training Task Force; he was joined by freshman Rep. Ben Lujan (D-NM), Rep Ruben Hinojosa (D-TX), and Rep. Joe Baca (D-CA).

This event served as a forum for Latino leaders to make education policy recommendations to CHC members, some of whom will be involved in the crafting of education legislation, such as Rep. Hinojosa who chairs the Committee on Education and Labor’s Subcommittee on Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, and Competitiveness.

Organizations that testified at the event included MALDEF, Cuban-American National Council, NALEO, and LULAC.

CHC members heard testimony from various national Latino advocacy organizations on important issues in education affecting Latinos at all stages from early education through higher education and on to workforce readiness.  Many alarming statistics about Hispanics in education were discussed, including the fact that only 57.8 percent of Hispanics graduate from high schools annually.

The common theme among panelists was that Latino students were not performing as well as their white counterparts academically. The panelists, when prompted by Grijalva, were in full agreement that the Latino community is lacking in resources. The Arizona Congressman, eager to hear testimonials from the community, said, “We’ve long been afterthought, now this is our opportunity to be included.”

Latino leaders urged CHC members to include full funding for Head Start programs in federal education legislation. Special emphasis was made on the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program since it serves such a needy and underserved segment of the Latino student population.

Alicia Diaz, Federal Relations Director of the Cuban-American Council, discussed the importance of early childhood education for Hispanics, “Hispanic children under the age of five are less likely to be enrolled in pre-k care.”

Citing specific cases in Dade County, Florida –Diaz stressed that quality Head Start programs would make the difference in helping Hispanics perform better academically once they entered elementary school.

While discussing the significance of K-12 education reform for Hispanics, Brent Wilkes, Executive Director of LULAC stressed the fact that attention should be made to the 18% of Hispanics who are English Language Learners (ELLs).

Ronald Blackburn Moreno of ASPIRA, a national organization dedicated to developing the educational and leadership capacity of Hispanic youth, said that Latinos would benefit from schools being held accountable for teacher quality and effectiveness.

Blackburn Moreno also stressed the need for more high level Latino appointments in the Department of Education, because those from the community will have more of an understanding of what needs to be done to help Latin youth.

Ruth Lopez, a policy analyst for MALDEF, addressed the dropout crisis of Latinos and the fact that there are 2, 000 high schools that have been identified as “dropout factories”, schools that produce over 50% of our nation’s dropouts. Lopez emphasized that MALDEF is one of the founding members of the Campaign for High School Equity (CHSE), a national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving high school education to prepare every student for graduation, college, work, and life.

Rep. Joe Baca stated that there is much work to be done for Latinos students. He added that he had introduced two bills that would benefit Latino youth. Last year he introduced The People Resolved to Obtain an Understanding of Democracy (PROUD) Act, which authorizes $150,000 for the Secretary of Education to fund a demonstration program to help schools develop and offer elective classes with curriculum based on the citizenship exam and create a path towards citizenship for responsible immigrant high school students. It was introduced in the last Congress and has not yet been reintroduced.

Baca also introduced the Teacher Education Assistance Creating Hope (TEACH) for our Future Act. The bill provides $25,000 in loan forgiveness under both the Federal Direct Loan (FDL) program and the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program for teachers who have taught full-time for 5 consecutive years at any public school in the nation.

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President Obama has nominated another Latino to his administration. Juan M. Garcia has been nominated for Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Manpower and Reserve Affairs), Department of the Navy, Department of Defense.

Garcia was a member of the Texas House of Representatives, where he represented the 32nd District from 2006 – 2009.  He is currently an attorney with Hartline, Dacus, Barger, Dreyer & Kern, L.L.P in Corpus Christi, TX.  Previously, Mr. Garcia was a White House Fellow, serving as a special assistant to Richard Riley, the Secretary of Education.  Since 1992 Mr. Garcia has been a Naval Aviator, and is currently the Commanding Officer of Naval Reserve Training Squadron 28.  Mr. Garcia earned a B.A. from the University of California in Los Angeles, a J.D. from Harvard Law School, and an M.P.P. from Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

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obama

The first 100 days of a presidency has been an important bench mark since FDR accomplished so much with the beginnings of his New Deal. At the 100 day mark of President Obama’s time in office many organizations, press outlets and citizens alike are measuring the progress of this new administration. Below is a compilation some of the major Hispanic organizations and Spanish-language media outlets’ views of President Obama’s work to date.

National Council of La Raza: President Obama’s First 100 Days Shows Promise, but There is More Work Ahead

National Hispanic Leadership Agenda: Report on the First 100 Days of the Obama Administration

MSN Latino (EFE): White House reaches out to Hispanics in Obama’s first hundred days,” 4/27/09

Univision (AP):  In his first 100 days, Obama seeks results with Hispanics,” 4/25/09

La Opinión: One Hundred Days: Attentive to Latin America,” 4/27/09

La Opinión: Hundred Days: Obama Defines New Style; President manages to forge image of decisiveness and efficiency,” 4/28/09

CNN en Español:100 Days of Obama: Diplomacy,” 4/27/09

The above news articles originated in Spanish, if you would like to read excerpts of the articles in English the White House Press Office compiled English versions you can find here: Spanish-Language Media Outlets Document Obama Administration Outreach to Hispanics

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U.S. officials have confirmed early this morning that the first U.S. death has occurred from swine flu. The victim a native of Mexico was a 23- month old toddler who had been in Houston seeking medical treatment.

To date, the strain of the flu is suspected to have killed more than 150 people in Mexico and has been confirmed in at least seven countries around the globe, from Spain to Canada to New Zealand.

Kathy Barton, a spokeswoman for the Houston Health and Human Services Department, said that the child had traveled with family from Mexico to Brownsville in south Texas, and later transferred to a hospital in Houston.

President Barack Obama asked Congress for $1.5 billion in emergency funds to help build more drug stockpiles, monitor future cases, and help international efforts to avoid a full-fledged pandemic. The U.S. is shipping to states not only enough anti-flu medication for 11 million people, but also masks, hospital supplies and flu test kits.

World Health Organization’s flu chief, Dr Keiji Fukuda  said in a news conference, “It’s a very serious possibility, but it is still too early to say that this is inevitable.”

The WHO has called a third emergency meeting in response to a spike in cases and said the expert panel will discuss whether to raise the worldwide flu alert level.

Cuba and Argentina have banned flights to Mexico where swine flu is suspected of killing more than 150 people and infecting 2,000.

Dr. Jesse Goodman, who oversees the Food and Drug Administration’s swine flu work told the Associated Press, “We’re working together at 100 miles an hour to get material that will be useful.”

Associated Press

Houston Chronicle

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NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, today highlighted some of President Obama’s key policy decisions that impacted Latinos in President Obama’s First 100 Days: An NCLR Progress Report. NCLR has worked closely with the president and his administration to advance key priorities for Latinos such as economic recovery, critical health care objectives, and immigration.

“NCLR gives President Obama high praise for his solid leadership in the first 100 days with the passage of legislation that provides resources to extend health care coverage to four million more children in the U.S., including legal immigrant children,” said Janet Murguía, NCLR President and CEO. “Our hope is that the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is a down payment on broader health care reform to be enacted this year, so that we may achieve affordable, quality health coverage for everyone in the U.S.”

During his first 100 days, the president also addressed our struggling economy by enacting a stimulus plan that expanded tax credits for families with children and providing better access to unemployment insurance.

“We commend the stimulus package that was passed, which includes many provisions for working Latino families, but what still needs to be addressed are initiatives that connect stimulus dollars to workers in need of good jobs with good wages,” Murguía added. “Latino workers need access to integrated education training programs, and as Congress looks to pass a budget bill, it is our hope that some of these issues will be addressed.”

“Furthermore, President Obama’s ‘Making Home Affordable’ plan has been a crucial step in helping Latino families hold on to their homes. NCLR continues to work with the administration to ensure that the plan helps American families keep their piece of the American Dream through homeownership.”

One of President Obama’s campaign promises to Americans and Latinos was to address the immigration system during his first year in office. Immigration reform is crucial as we move toward economic recovery, and the president has shown a willingness to live up to his campaign pledge to tackle this issue in the coming year.

Education is also an issue of primary importance to the Latino community, and NCLR will continue to work with the administration to improve our nation’s education system for all children. “We are pleased that President Obama appointed Arne Duncan, a proven reformer, as Secretary of Education. Latino children represent the fastest-growing segment of children in America’s schools, and if the U.S. is to continue to have a well-educated, productive workforce, then it is critical that the president and Congress make investments in education programs and support policies that improve Latino educational attainment,” concluded Murguía.

NCLR will continue to work closely with the president, his administration, and Congress on vital issues including health care reform, the economy, education reform, and immigration to realize America’s promise of a stronger, healthier, and more prosperous nation.

NCLR

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The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) issued the following statement commending the appointment of Mr. William A. Ramos to serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce:

“The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO), the nation’s preeminent Latino leadership organization, congratulates Mr. William A. Ramos on his appointment to serve as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Commerce. Mr. Ramos is currently the NALEO Educational Fund’s Washington, DC Office Director.

“As the Department of Commerce’s Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, Mr. Ramos will be well-positioned to strengthen the relationship between the Department and state and local officials throughout the United States, including the more than 6,000 Latino elected and appointed officials nationwide. This responsibility is particularly critical for the success of Census 2010 outreach efforts, which must involve effective partnerships between the Census Bureau and state and local governments.

“Mr. Ramos’ passion for community service, social and racial justice, and the empowerment of the Latino community and communities of color spans a professional career of more than two decades. As the NALEO Educational Fund’s Washington Office Director, Mr. Ramos has led the organization’s efforts to promote public policies that enhance Latino opportunities to participate in the American political process, particularly in the areas of naturalization, comprehensive immigration reform, the 2010 Census, and Presidential appointments. NALEO commends President Barack Obama and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on the appointment of Mr. Ramos – an appointment which will help the Department forge vital partnerships which are critical for its future work.”

NALEO

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