Washington, DC—President Obama’s first State of the Union address tonight comes at a critical moment for America, especially for the nation’s Latino community.
High unemployment, a sluggish economy, a health care system still in need of reform, a housing and foreclosure crisis, and the devastating consequences of a broken immigration system plague every American, but they disproportionately impact Hispanics. Janet Murguía, President and CEO of NCLR (National Council of La Raza), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States, has been invited to attend the State of the Union address as a guest of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Murguía and NCLR policy experts will be available to reporters for reaction after the speech (see details below).
The following is a pre-address statement by Janet Murguía:
Like all Americans, the number one concern among Latinos is jobs and the economy. Our community will be listening for specific commitments that target the hardest-hit communities and hoping for serious follow-through by Congress on job-creating, economy-sparking actions. This is not the time for partisanship or political posturing, but rather for detailed and decisive movement.
Across the country, nearly 300 of NCLR’s affiliated community-based organizations are working with families on the ground on community development, housing, education, and other direct community services to mitigate the effects of the jobs and economic problems that Latino and all American communities are suffering. While at the State of the Union, I’ll be thinking of Carlos, who is uninsured, was forced to use his life savings to pay for emergency surgery, and has since lost his job; of Visionary Home Builders, an organization that is working tirelessly to help families stay in their homes; of Felicia, whose stepfather died alone waiting for his immigration case to be processed so he could reunite with his family. And I will be listening for how Congress and the administration intend to be serious and committed partners in addressing these very real challenges.
While immigration reform has tremendous significance to Latinos, it is also an investment that will pay off for all Americans and should be a top priority. Immigration reform that stabilizes and legalizes the U.S. labor market, makes employers follow the rules, and enhances tax revenue and economic growth is a must-do for the president and Congress.
Latinos will be listening along with their fellow Americans for a commitment to action—on immigration, on jobs, on health care, on housing and homeownership, and on economic growth. Our communities are doing their part; we need Congress to do its part, and we will remember those who answer the call for leadership. We share a common future and a common desire to see real progress toward prosperity in American communities this year.