National Hispanic Leadership Agenda Calls For Action On Top Latino Public Policy Priorities Under Next President And New Congress

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Following is the main text of this month's newsletter.

SEPTEMBER 19, 2008 – As Chair of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), MALDEF President and General Counsel John Trasviña has been leading efforts to ensure that our nation’s public policies meet the needs of the Latino community. Mr. Trasviña has presented the 2008 NHLA Hispanic Public Policy Agenda to both Democrats and Republicans and has led events to highlight Latino policy priorities at the political conventions in Denver and St. Paul.

The Democratic policy platform has numerous elements in common with the NHLA Hispanic Public Policy Agenda. The NHLA wrote to Senator McCain seeking changes in the Republican platform, which repudiates his prior positions in support of comprehensive immigration reform, bilingual education and other Latino policy priorities.

Below please find Mr. Trasviña’s letter of introduction to the 2008 NHLA Hispanic Public Policy Agenda.

August 2008

On behalf of the 26 national Hispanic organizations comprising the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), I am pleased to present our platform. This platform, a product of meetings and input from Latino leaders and advocates from around the nation, focuses on civil rights, economic empowerment, education, government accountability, health and immigration not only from the perspective of what is good for the Latino community but what is essential for the nation’s future.

Today, as Latinos account for one-sixth of the population on the mainland United States, Puerto Rico and the territories, every issue facing the Latino community has a national impact. Every family, every business and every community is touched by Latinos, whether we have resided here for generations or whether we are the newest of the newcomers. The NHLA agenda highlights policies and solutions in priority areas where federal government policy can make a difference in the lives of members of our communities. These policies do not simply “serve” the community, they enable the Latino community to better serve the nation and to fulfill their own dreams and aspirations for a better life.

This year will be a watershed year for Latinos in the election. We have candidates and parties that are seeking the Latino vote and the Latino vote is likely to be decisive in a number of the swing states in the presidential election. Whichever candidate is elected has a responsibility, with Congress, to uplift and advance the Hispanic community and the nation. The NHLA Policy Agenda presents a pathway forward. Whatever the outcome of the election, NHLA organizations will work with the new Administration making the case for policies and programs that better the lives of Latinos, and we will identify Latinos for key appointed positions in the next administration. In addition, we will identify key posts where the decisions made have a special impact on our ability to succeed as a community and as a nation.

Whoever is appointed to those positions must have an understanding, appreciation and sensitivity to the contributions and needs of Latinos. Here is our agenda for our nation and our future. We call upon elected officials, candidates, political parties, the media and the general public to consider and adopt this Agenda and ensure that the interests of the Latino community for the betterment of the nation are carried out. Join us in that effort.

Sincerely, John Trasviña Chair NHLA

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund