The Consequences of Delayed Executive Action

Hanging in the balance-01

ImmDayofAction_immigrationsharegraphic_2_14President Obama’s decision to delay taking executive action on immigration this past September affected millions of hardworking people and their families. Like many of us who were disappointed in the House Republican leadership’s failure on immigration, we were expecting President Obama to act, particularly after he said in a Rose Garden ceremony on June 30 that he would fix as much of the immigration system as he could on his own. Millions of families were also waiting to hear what the president would do to provide relief. But for many of those immigrants, the president’s decision to delay taking action on immigration meant the difference between staying with their families in the United States and being deported to their countries of origin, often after having lived in the United States for several years.

One such individual is Javier Flores, whose story was featured in The Washington Post this past weekend. For Flores, a 31-year-old factory worker who most recently resided in Akron, Ohio, the president’s decision to delay action meant deportation.

From The Washington Post:

In June, he had watched on TV as President Obama promised he would stop deporting certain kinds of illegal immigrants by the end of summer. The president and his staff said they would bypass Congress by issuing an executive action to help people with clean criminal records and American-citizen children — people like Javier. “This means you!” an immigration advocate had written to him, and even though Javier had already been ordered deported he believed his miracle had come. He would be able to stay with his children, ages 10, 7, 4 and 9 months. He would be able to keep his job at the window factory, where he managed 30 people and paid $850 in U.S. taxes each month. “A perfect case,” the advocate wrote again, and all Javier had to do was wait for Obama to say the things he had promised to say.

But then July turned into August, and August turned into September, and Obama decided it was more politically prudent to delay his executive action until after November’s midterm elections. So instead of being offered his reprieve, Javier was sent back to the poorest state in Mexico, where the advocate had sent him one final note. “Sorry,” it read. “Terrible timing.”

The April All in For Citizenship Rally drew thousands of supporters from around the country.

Up until his deportation back to La Mixtequita, Mexico, a village with fewer than 1,000 residents, no mail service, no Internet service, and no work, Flores had lived 13 years in Ohio. His family, a wife and four children, are all still in Ohio. His youngest child is unable to comprehend why she has not seen her father for almost a month. Indeed, Flores’s deportation was hard for even his relatives in Mexico to understand. It is baffling how a routine traffic stop could turn into deportation for someone who has lived in and contributed to his community for so many years.

For now, Flores spends his days sometimes harvesting limes in a small orchard, but mostly contemplating his next steps, mulling over an attempt to return to Ohio, desperate for any solution that will reunite him with his family that needs him so sorely. It’s a heartbreaking and unfortunate situation that could have been averted had Congress or the president done the hard work necessary to finally bring some sanity back to our immigration system. There are millions of others who could avoid the same fate when President Obama makes a big and bold announcement after the midterm elections.

Economic Rights Are Essential to the Pursuit of Happiness

Richard_Cordray_newLast week, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray addressed students at Michigan State University on the anniversary of three pivotal moments in American History: the Supreme Court’s 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974. With these three historic events, the United States moved closer to fully realizing the inevitable truth that civil rights, political rights, and economic rights are inextricably linked. They are all necessary for a free and democratic society.

While Brown v. Board of Education and the 1964 Civil Rights Act are relatively known for their roles in reducing legal discrimination, Director Cordray used his speech to highlight a less-known antidiscrimination law: the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. For the first time, ECOA outlawed discrimination by creditors against borrowers based on race, ethnicity, sex, age, and national origin.

While fairness in the lending law has been on the books for four decades, lending discrimination against people of color persists today. People of color have always been targeted by subprime lenders, but the housing crisis fanned the flames of predatory practices as lenders offered risky mortgages that ultimately led to default and foreclosure, pushing millions out of their homes. Latino wealth was decimated, and the racial wealth gap between Latinos and Whites continues to widen more than ever.

Even when controlling for similar credit profiles, research shows people of color routinely pay significantly more for auto loans than Whites.

Last December, NCLR strongly supported a historic $98 million settlement between the CFPB and auto lending giant Ally Financial. In violation of the ECOA, more than 200,000 Hispanics, Asians, and Blacks were charged higher rates for auto loans.

Despite its efforts to root out unscrupulous lenders in the auto sector, the CFPB has its hands tied due to the exemption of the real culprits in auto loan discrimination against minority borrowers: the car dealership lenders who set initial loan prices for borrowers. Despite the fact that auto lenders play a pivotal role in working with customers and setting auto loan prices, the CFPB has no oversight authority of the dealers because they are not considered to be engaging in financial activities.

The auto market must not be exempt from the preservation of Latinos’ economic and civil rights. Like buying a home, the decision to buy a car often involves a large loan paid over a period of years, amounting to the second most expensive purchase most borrows will make in a lifetime.

As of today, laws like the Equal Credit Opportunity Act are in place to protect people of color from discrimination, but ongoing price discrimination against minority borrowers doesn’t reflect this resolution.

To create a fully fair and equitable market, the CFPB should be granted authority over the auto market to directly enforce the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and all relevant antidiscrimination legislation.

NCLR Board: Washington Football Organization Should Change its Name

NCLR has joined the growing chorus of voices urging the Washington football organization to drop its name and the images offensive to millions of Native Americans.

At their fall meeting this past weekend, the NCLR Board of Directors held that unanimous vote to call on Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, and the entire organization to make the change.

Photo: Keith Allison, Creative Commons

Photo: Keith Allison, Creative Commons

“Our brothers and sisters in the Native American community have been clear and consistent in their call to change both terms and images that they consider demeaning. As an organization committed to fairness and equality for all, NCLR fully supports these efforts,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía in a statement.

NCLR has already joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human rights in its efforts to change the organization’s name. The vote this past weekend solidifies the commitment to those efforts and further strengthens our relationship with the Native American community.

“The Latino community well understands that words matter and that they can denigrate, disparage and dehumanize,” said Murguía. “We should treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve. We will continue to work with our friends and partners in the Native American community and with the Leadership Conference until justice is served in this matter.”

Weekly Washington Outlook — October 27, 2014


What to Watch This Week:



The House is in recess, returning the week of November 10.


The Senate is in recess, returning the week of November 10.

White House:

On Monday, the president will meet with the Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Steering Committee at the White House.

On Tuesday, President Obama will travel to Milwaukee to attend a DNC roundtable and a campaign event for Mary Burke and other Wisconsin Democrats.

On Wednesday, the president will attend meetings at the White House.

On Thursday, President Obama will travel to Portland, Me. to attend a DNC roundtable and a campaign event for Mike Michaud and other Maine Democrats. Afterward, the president will travel to the Providence, R.I. area, where he will remain overnight.

On Friday, President Obama will deliver remarks at Rhode Island College on the economy and the importance of pursuing policies that help women succeed. Following his remarks, he will return to Washington. In the evening, President Obama and the First Lady will welcome local children and children of military families to trick-or-treat at the South Portico of the White House.

On Saturday, the president will travel to the Detroit area to attend a campaign event for Gary Peters and Mark Schauer.

On Sunday, President Obama will travel to Bridgeport, Conn. for an event with Dan Malloy and other Connecticut Democrats.  Afterward, he will travel to Philadelphia to attend a campaign event for Tom Wolf and other Pennsylvania Democrats.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending October 24


Week Ending October 24

This week in immigration: NCLR continues the ‘Hanging in the Balance’ blog series with the story of a mixed-status family; NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía visits Kansas City; NCLR facilitates two webinars on DACA and college readiness; NCLR and partners increase civic engagement efforts; NY City Council passes bill prohibiting law enforcement from honoring detainer requests issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

NCLR continues ‘Hanging in the Balance series with the story of a family with mixed-status and what the executive action means for them: In NCLR’s latest ‘Hanging in the Balance’ blog post we tell the story of Vicky Ramirez, a member of NCLR’s Líderes Youth Advisory Council, and her family. Vicky’s parents are legal permanent residents, but some of her siblings are not. One is a DACA recipient. One is the parent of a U.S. citizen. When asked about how executive action would affect her family, Vicky said “it would be transformative.” She also described the challenges families like hers face and how they could continue contributing to the country if they were granted administrative relief and obtained work permits. For millions of families like Vicky’s across the country, NCLR urges President Obama to provide relief that allows millions of families to continue to live and work in the United States.

NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía urges Latinos in Kansas to head to the polls come November: This week, NCLR’s President and CEO, Janet Murguía, travelled to her home state of Kansas to encourage Latinos to vote. “Murguía was joined at the event by Irene Caudillo, President and CEO of El Centro Inc., and Representative Louis Ruiz, both of whom echoed the call to get out the vote. Latinos currently account for 5.5 percent of the state’s electorate, or about 120,000 voters. As it stands, the margin of victory in certain races is currently less than the total percentage of Latino voters in the state.” In a news release Murguía is quoted as saying, “In order to translate our growing numbers into political clout, we must make sure that every eligible Hispanic registers to vote and that every registered Latino voter in Kansas casts a ballot on Election Day. In especially close races, Kansas’s Hispanic electorate is not an afterthought; it’s a kingmaker.”

NCLR faciliates webinars regarding DACA and college-readiness: This week, NCLR was busy sharing information with educators about DACA and college readiness for undocumented students. NCLR collaborated with College Board to present a webinar entitled “Assisting Undocumented Students in the College Application Process.” Over three hundred school counselors registered for the webinar and received information on policies that impact undocumented students. NCLR also hosted a webinar for Escalera program grantees and other partners in educational programs titled “College Dreams for Undocumented Students”. If you are interested in materials, please contact Laura Vazquez at

NCLR and partners host town hall meeting in North Carolina: NCLR, in partnership with Affiliate El Pueblo, hosted a town hall meeting on October 18 in Raleigh, North Carolina. It featured candidates for Sheriff, Clerk of Court, and District Attorney running in Wake County and allowed them to present their platforms and to address concerns from the Latino community. Find out more on what NCLR is doing on civic engagement by following @NCLREmpowers on Twitter or by visiting NCLR’s advocacy and empowerment webpage.

Imm_reformUpdate_10_24_2014_pic1 ImmReform_Update_10_24_2014_pic2

Additionally, in partnership with the Latin American Coalition, NCLR hosted a town hall meeting on October 22 in Charlotte, North Carolina at Caldwell Presbyterian Church. The event featured Vanessa Faura, former Republican candidate for city council, Nelda Leon with Mecklenburg Hispanic Democrats, and Rafael Prieto, Editor of Que Pasa Mi Gente.

New York City council passes bill prohibiting NYPD and New York City Department of Corrections from honoring detainer requests: Law enforcement and correctional facilities in New York City will no longer honor detainer requests from ICE, unless they are backed by a warrant from a federal judge. The recently passed bill also removes ICE officials from the Rikers Island correctional facility, a goal long championed by immigration advocates, including NCLR Affiliate, Make the Road New York. The law separates ICE and local law enforcement in hopes to ensure just treatment of immigrants and to foster trust between communities and local police. Read more in the New York Observer.

ALMA Awards Celebrities Say “Invest in Schools, Not Prisons!”

We’re sending a huge thank you to CharoTerry Crews, NCLR Vice President, California Region, Delia De La Vara, Edy GanemSelenis Leyva, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, Andrea NavedoAna OrtizDascha PolancoFátima PtacekJudy ReyesEddie “Piolín” SoteloGuillermo del ToroJorge VegaLisa Vidal, and Wilmer Valderrama for lending their Latino voices at the recent ALMA Awards and spreading the word on why it’s important to Do The Math and invest in Schools Not Prisons!

H/t to The California Endowment for the video.

Report on LGBT Foster Youth Highlights Disparities in Foster Care System


Photo: moodboard, Creative Commons

For too long, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth have been largely invisible in the foster care system. We have long suspected that they’re overrepresented and underserved, but until now there were almost no data to work with. But thanks to a recent groundbreaking study about the sexual orientation and gender identity of foster youth in Los Angeles County—home to the nation’s largest population of foster youth—we now know a lot more.

Not only are LGBTQ youth overrepresented in that county’s foster care system (the proportion of LGBTQ youth in foster care is double that of LGBTQ youth not in foster care), but the majority of them are Latino, with many being immigrants or the children of immigrants. The study also identified barriers that LGBTQ foster youth face, shedding light on the need to better understand this demographic in order to improve their mental health and socioeconomic outcomes.

The study, Sexual and Gender Minority Youth in Los Angeles County Foster Care: Assessing Disproportionality and Disparities, co-authored by scholars at the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School and Holarchy Consulting, with partial funding from a federal Permanency Innovations Initiative grant awarded to the Los Angeles LGBT Center, found that 19 percent of Los Angeles County foster youth identify as LGBTQ. Further, their racial and ethnic composition reflects that of Los Angeles County, with 54.6 percent being Latino. Ten percent are born outside the U.S., and about one-third has at least one parent born outside the U.S.

This study was groundbreaking in that it is the first population-based survey aimed at measuring the sexual orientation and gender identity of youth in any foster care system, as well as identifying the barriers they face. Nearly one in five reported facing discrimination for their sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. LGBTQ foster youth have triple the rate of hospitalization for emotional reasons and are more likely to have been homeless than non-LGBTQ youth. Univision covered the release of this study, with a poignant story of a foster youth who faced such barriers.

This isn’t just an LGBTQ issue. As the numbers illustrate, Latinos are a large part of the LGBTQ foster youth population in Los Angeles, and presumably in other parts of the nation as well. To better serve them, we need to ensure that our service providers design their programs in a way that accounts for their unique needs. This means:

  • Providing cultural competency training for caregivers and the child welfare system’s workforce
  • Integrating questions about sexual orientation, gender identity, gender conformity, and related discrimination into existing data collection, intake, service planning, and case review processes, and training staff to collect this information respectfully and confidentially
  • Ensuring that care actually addresses the needs of LGBTQ youth

These reforms are just a start, but they can go a long way toward improving the effectiveness of foster care systems, reducing costs, and, most importantly, bettering the lives of these particularly vulnerable youth. Let’s set them on a path toward more fulfilling, healthy, and successful lives.

College Dreams for Undocumented Students

It’s the time of year when high school juniors and seniors start thinking about their college plans. The number of Latino students enrolling and graduating from college has been steadily increasing, but we can’t forget about the special considerations needed for those undocumented students who also have dreams of higher education. For these students, navigating the admissions process, financial aid, and scholarships can be daunting. We’re here to help.

Today, we’re hosting a webinar designed for high school leaders, college counselors, teachers, community-based organizations and mentors. We’ll cover the current challenges and opportunities for undocumented students in a variety of circumstances so that all students who want it can achieve their dreams of going to college.

Click here or on the flyer below to register!


Hanging in the Balance: The Ramirez Family

Hanging in the balance-01 Vicky Ramirez is a recent college graduate and a member of NCLR’s Líderes Youth Advisory Council. She is currently putting her skills and expertise to use at an international development agency in Washington, D.C. She recently spoke about what it would mean to her family if President Obama used executive authority to provide administrative relief on immigration.

Vicky’s part of a mixed-status family: different family members have different immigration statuses. Her parents were able to become legal permanent residents when their application was approved 10 years after her father applied. She has a younger sister who was born in the U.S. and is a citizen. Because of bureaucratic backlogs and delays, her older sisters were not able to become permanent residents and now have different statuses. Two of her sisters are twins; one has applied and received Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, while the other has not. Her eldest sister is among the 4.5 million undocumented parents of U.S.-citizen children.

MENENDEZ-QUOTEWhen asked what it would mean if President Obama were to do everything within his authority to fix the nation’s immigration policies, Vicky said “it would be transformative.” She described the many challenges that families like hers face and the ways that they could continue contributing to the country if they were able to apply for administrative relief. Her siblings could make even bigger contributions if they were able to apply for work permits.

The more expansive the president is in his actions, the greater the economic benefit to families and to the country. According to an analysis by the Center for American Progress, establishing a deferred action policy allowing aspiring Americans to receive a work permit would result in a significant increase in revenue for the country. In the first year alone, aspiring Americans who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, as Vicky’s sisters have, would increase payroll tax revenue by $6.08 billion and would increase revenue by $44.96 billion over five years.

For Vicky’s family and for millions of families like hers across the country, we urge President Obama to provide relief that allows millions of families to continue to live and work in the United States.