From: Arnoldo Torres arnoldots@yahoo.

com
Subject: Fw: NiLP Guest Commentary: Immigration Key But Far From Only Latino Issue
Date: July 29, 2014 at 9:33 AM
To: Arnoldo Torres arnoldotorres1@me.com

Arnoldo S. Torres
Policy Consultant
6505 Blue Rock Ct.
Elk Grove, California 95758
916-838-4134 Cell Phone
916-667-8315 Home Office
916-667-8437 Fax
----- Forwarded Message -----
From: Angelo Falcon <afalcon@latinopolicy.org>
To: 'Arnoldo Torres' <arnoldots@yahoo.com>
Sent: Monday, July 7, 2014 7:29 AM
Subject: FW: NiLP Guest Commentary: Immigration Key But Far From Only Latino Issue
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By Ainoluo S. Toiies (}uly 7, 2u14)

The Apiil 22 column by Angelo Falcon of the National Institute foi Latino
Policy, "Immigiation Refoim anu the Latino Civil Rights Novement: Aie
They Now in Conflict." suggests immigiation may be ciowuing out the
multituue of civil iights issues that have long impacteu Latino
communities in this countiy. I have shaieu this opinion foi many yeais,
especially ovei the last six yeais, anu iespect the aiguments maue by
those who contenu immigiation is now the "new civil iights issue".

But this peispective iaises the many questions that Falcon iightfully asks:
Bow uoes this focus on immigiation as the single most impoitant issue
facing the Latino community help oi uistoit the Latino agenua. Bo Latino
activists anu leaueis neeu to assess immigiation's place on theii
community's agenua vis-à-vis othei issues. Is it even appiopiiate to iaise
such questions at such a sensitive time foi compiehensive immigiation
iefoim in the Congiess.

Befoie I answei these veiy impoitant anu legitimate questions I woulu like to shaie some backgiounu
that will give context to my iesponses.

I seiveu as the Congiessional Liaison anu National Executive Biiectoi foi the League of 0niteu Latin
Ameiican Citizens (L0LAC) in Washington, B.C., fiom 1979 to 198S. I also testifieu moie than Su times
befoie the 0.S. Senate anu Bouse of Repiesentatives on this countiy's most compiehensive immigiation
iefoim legislation, the Immigiation Refoim anu Contiol Act of 1986 (IRCA).

I auvocateu aiuently foi the Latino community with many colleagues, anu was able to successfully
negotiate many iecommenuations that impioveu the humanity anu auministiation of this histoiical
iefoim bill. 0ui effoits iesulteu in the legalization of appioximately 2.9 million unuocumenteu
inuiviuuals, anu the inclusion of civil iights piotections foi immigiants anu non-immigiants who weie
incieasingly expeiiencing uisciimination baseu on immigiation status.

While immigiation unuoubteuly ieceiveu moie Congiessional attention than othei issues uuiing my
tenuie with L0LAC, we uiu auuiess key issues that extenueu beyonu immigiation. Foi example, we
woikeu uiligently with otheis to extenu the voting Rights Act, to ie-authoiize the feueial Bilingual
Euucation Act, the 0.S. Commission on Civil Rights, anu the feueial Faii Bousing Act; anu to maintain oi
impiove vital feueial laws piotecting the piecaiious iole of Bispanics in 0.S. society.
impiove vital feueial laws piotecting the piecaiious iole of Bispanics in 0.S. society.

We also battleu the "voouoo economic" policies of the Reagan auministiation that began the uemise of
Ameiica's miuule-class anu causeu unpieceuenteu havoc foi woiking pooi anu entiy-level miuule class
Latinos. We also expanueu oui auvocacy to covei 0.S. foieign policy in Latin Ameiica anu beyonu.

Ny expeiiences uuiing the last two uecaues of the last millennium unueiscoie the challenges that
Latinos faceu (as well as othei ethnic gioups) anu the inappiopiiateness of auvocates to act as "single-
issue" activists. The cuiient conuitions of the Latino community, especially the last 1u yeais,
uemonstiate that viitually the same challenges iemain anu a civil iights agenua is neeueu to go beyonu
immigiation.

Since the gieat iecession of 2uu6, Latinos thioughout the nation have lost theii only possession of ieal
wealth-theii homes. The euucational system fiom kinueigaiten to college has not maue any ieal
auvancements that impiove the futuie of Latinos. uieatei access to health caie has been cieateu but
substantial obstacles to bettei health foi Latinos, not just the unuocumenteu, iemain. Racial piofiling
continues iegaiuless of oui legal status, anu oppoitunities foi iealizing the "Ameiican Bieam" aie
tiickleu uown by "the man."

In othei woius, yesteiuay's "civil iights" stiuggles aie still with us touay. They may be moie subtle, moie
complex anu, at times, not manifesteu in the same ciuue mannei. But we also see theii staying powei
anu ieluctance to go away as we witnesseu in the 2u12 Piesiuential campaign with Republicans anu
have seen this past week along the boiuei. Peihaps the gieatest testament to theii existence is the
giowing gap between the pooi anu wealthy, with the auueu suipiise that many non-Latinos anu non-
Blacks have joineu oui ianks.

Now that I have given some context, let me answei some of the questions Ni. Falcon has iaiseu.

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Fiist of all, I uo not believe that theie has evei been a Latino agenua, ceitainly not one that has been
ciafteu collectively. While Latino gioups anu inuiviuuals have auvocateu ovei the many yeais, anu
uecaues, on "tiauitional Latino civil iights" we have piimaiily uone this baseu on oui iegional anu
community expeiiences. We have not always agieeu with the solutions auvanceu but we have shaieu the
same pooi expeiiences.

I uo believe the focus on immigiation has significantly uistoiteu auvocacy on othei issues anu poitiays
the collective Latino community as being only conceineu about one issue. Cleaily, this has inflicteu
majoi uamage.

It has alloweu both political paities, all the meuia, the libeial left anu conseivative iight, national
Spanish language meuia Tv iauio, anu local Spanish language iauio to uiscuss immigiation anu to ignoie
all othei issues. As long as these institutions aie auuiessing immigiation along the lines of the ihetoiic
being expiesseu fiom oui community, they uo not have to auuiess any othei issues.

Bow else uo you explain the pooi iesponse of Bemociats anu Republicans uuiing the economic
iecession anu millions of Latino families who lost theii homes. Neithei paity helpeu Latinos concietely
keep theii homes oi get theii homes back. 0bama piogiams weie not utilizeu anu they came on-line
veiy late. Republicans coulu only uefenu the status quo anu blame pooi people.

A goou example involves a state legislatoi in Califoinia voteu against bill to place a waining label on all
sugaiy uiinks that was being sought because of the phenomenal human anu goveinmental costs
associateu with uiabetes anu obesity in the Latino community. Califoinia State Assemblywoman Loiena
uonzalez not only voteu against SB 1uuu but woikeu to convince othei Latino anu Black membeis to
vote against the bill. She took this position uespite the haiu uata that uiabetes in the Latino community
thioughout the 0.S. anu Califoinia, anu in hei county anu Assembly uistiict, is oveiwhelmingly causing
gieat haim to chiluien anu families.

Paiauoxically, an aiticle appeaieu in the LA Times one week aftei the vote that spoke to how Latino
legislatois aie "...moving to ieveise uecaues of anti-immigiant legislation (the anti-immigiant
Pioposition 187 state initiative). The aiticle iepoiteu that uonzalez acknowleugeu that ievisiting some
of these battles gets hei geneiation of lawmakeis "in tiouble sometimes" but to not take up those issues
now that they'ie in the Capitol. 0h no, she saiu. "We've been fighting foi this foi way too long."

To me this was "!" $%"&%'! This electeu official gets quoteu in the most piestigious newspapei in
Califoinia as if she is a uefenuei of the Latino community while she voteu to allow the gieatest silent
killei in the Latino community go unattenueu. But because she has piesenteu heiself as a fightei against
the anti-immigiant foices of yesteiuay anu touay she is given a fiee pass.

0n the issue of euucation it's even woise. Latino electeu officials at all levels of goveinment anu school
auministiation have laigely not been at the foiefiont of iefoiming public euucation in many states with
high concentiations of Latinos in public schools. While they have one set of comments uuiing campaigns
high concentiations of Latinos in public schools. While they have one set of comments uuiing campaigns
anu when they neeu to be "uown with Latinos" they cite the pooi peifoimance of many K-12 schools in
oui neighboihoous. They talk about the impoitance of euucation foi oui chiluien anu futuie. Bowevei,
they aie not pioposing majoi iefoim legislation, holuing the cuiient system accountable, changing anu
cieating moie options foi paients anu chiluien, noi empoweiing paients to unueistanu anu access the
euucational system foi impioving theii chiluien's chances foi a ieasonable futuie.

I see this in viitually eveiy state in the nation. While most state legislatois take little oi no initiative oi
leaueiship on what Pew Reseaich Bispanic Tienus Pioject continues to finu in polls of Latinos --- that
euucation anu health aie the fiist two issues of majoi impoitance to Latino voteis; they aie hitting the
Republicans anu Ni. 0bama haiu on uepoitations anu lack of action on immigiation iefoim legislation.
Those that suppoit 0bama because of theii stiong ties to the Bemociatic Paity have a goou wiping boy
in Republicans, who always finu a way to be even moie offensive anu take no action than Bemociats. In
Texas, Latino Bemociats in the state house spenu moie time talking about how bau Republicans aie on
immigiation anu theii anti-immigiant iants while the majoiity uo not engage in finuing solutions to a
public euucation system that has faileu Latinos foi thiee geneiations.

0n these two issues, as well as othei issues, Latino electeu officials anu Latino immigiant gioups aie
seluom on the fiont lines fighting foi change---unless it can be tiaceu uiiectly to unuocumenteu
communities. Yes, theie aie exceptions to this scenaiio but I have not founu many in most Southwest,
Niuwest, Noitheast anu Southeast states.

Also contiibuting to this uynamic is how the meuia coveis issues impacting Latinos. It too often appeais
that a whole new gioup of jouinalists have cioppeu up anu have become auvocates on Latino
immigiation issues. We have jouinalist now playing the iole of auvocates when they nevei have to suffei
the consequences of theii own auvocacy. They know little about policy anu most of what they have come
to unueistanu is not fiisthanu knowleuge. Yet, theii coveiage of policy issues in the Latino community
ievolves laigely aiounu immigiation anu appeais to be taken with the intent of changing complex
immigiation laws anu policies.

Anothei key contiibutoi to the focus on immigiation has been left leaning philanthiopic founuations.
They will geneially funu immigiant iight community oiganizations, which is veiy impoitant. Bowevei,
they uo not funu euucational empoweiment effoits in Latino communities. In compaiison to the
millions of uollais that these founuations have investeu in immigiation ovei the last ten yeais, similai
effoits have nevei been maue on euucation, health oi economic policy ovei the last Su yeais.

All of these uynamics have contiibuteu to the ill-placeu focus on immigiation.

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ABS0L0TELY! It shoulu not take what has been going on foi Latino activists anu leaueis to ieassess
what is uone on the political anu policy fiont foi the community. With the constant uemogiaphic giowth
of Latinos, the political obstacles we face anu the inciease in Latino electeu officials, we shoulu be
stepping back anu taking time to ieflect on at least thiee questions---wheie have we been. Wheie uo we
want to go. Bow uo we want to get theie.

Reflection anu constiuctive ciitiques of oui "so-calleu Latino agenua" iequiies constant ieview anu
questioning. We have not effectively iesolveu the issues that weie with us in the 196us but we continue
to be confionteu since the 197us by the iealities of immigiant flows fiom countiies piimaiily south of
the 0.S. We must iecognize that 0.S. foieign political anu economic policies have seiveu as majoi "push
factois" fiom these countiies yet we have faileu to insist that this be incoipoiateu in immigiation iefoim
policy. This makes it an impeiative that we ieflect anu ie-examine what we uo as a community. The new
leaueis in the immigiant communities know little of the past battles fought on civil iights anu those who
have fought those battles neeu to know moie of the cuiient complexities of immigiant flows.

Aie we satisfieu with oui electeu officials. Is theii ieal agieement on what the key issues aie given the
uiveisity of Latinos iesiuing in the 0.S.. Shoulu we change tactics. Shoulu we begin a uialogue amongst
the vaiious geneiations of Latinos who aie voteis anu non-voteis. Shoulu we uevelop a stiongei
commitment to holuing electeu officials, Latino anu non-Latino, accountable.

These aie but a few of the issues we shoulu ieassess on a continuing basis. We must shaipen oui
thinking to be moie inuepenuent thinkeis anu not Bemociats oi Republicans fiist. We must iecognize
that we must uevelop the solutions anu not uepenu on political paities anu othei institutions to come up
with the answeis. If we have been suffeiing fiom these pioblems foi so long, shoulun't this pioviue us
with the ability to uevelop viable solutions.

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ABS0L0TELY! As a community we have faileu to iaise such questions about ieassessing oui effoits up to
now. As a consequence this has maue what's on the table even moie uifficult anu complex to ueal with.


While timing is always a sensitive mattei in the political aiena, immigiation iefoim cannot be attempteu
by the Latino community until we ieach geneial consensus on key iefoim piinciples anu aie oiganizeu.
Bistoiy has uemonstiateu that effective paiticipation by impoveiisheu gioups in the woilu's most
influential political system cannot be achieveu otheiwise.

The longei we wait to assess oui situation anu uefine oui solution, the moie suie that otheis outsiue of
oui community will uo it foi us, while pioviuing theii own analysis baseu on ignoiance, steieotypes, oi
theii knowleuge of what's in oui best inteiests.

I thank Angelo Falcon foi opening the uooi foi all of us to uiscuss oui past, piesent anu futuie of Latinos
in the 0.S. We woulu uo well to iecognize that we have many issues that tiouble us anu iequiie oui
collective attention anu iesolution. We have the talent, eneigy, iueas, anu stiength to impiove on many
of the issues that plague us but we must unueistanu that the solution begins with us; in auuition, we
must not be afiaiu to aumit that we too have become pait of the pioblem.

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