Together We Can End Child Hunger

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With Thanksgiving on the horizon, food is top of mind for millions of Americans. Across the country, families are planning who will bring what and who gets to make their famous dishes. Thanksgiving is a joyous time for family and friends to reflect on all we have been given.

Unfortunately, for a significant number of many American families, food will be a central focus for different reasons. For the millions of children suffering from hunger, especially Latino children in the U.S., their thoughts around food and the holiday will be the same this week as they are every other week—namely, how to get enough of it.

At NCLR, we understand the plight that many Latinos, especially children, face when it comes to hunger. Through our Institute for Hispanic Health and our Health Policy Project, we work on creating programs and fighting for policy changes that will lift Latinos out of poverty and into homes with food security. ConAgra Foods, a longtime partner, also recognizes the challenges that families face in putting wholesome, healthy food on the table, and we have teamed up with them to help end child hunger in America. ConAgra Foods has been a generous supporter of programs like “Reflejos de mi comunidad,” which gave cameras to young people and asked them to photograph what they saw as challenges to healthy eating in their local neighborhoods. Programs like this help us all better understand the obstacles Latino families face and what we need to do to make a difference.

Of course, NCLR and ConAgra Foods alone can’t put an end to childhood hunger in the U.S. It takes collaboration from all sectors of society, including everyday Americans. To spread awareness of the cause and the significant impact among Latino children, NCLR joined ConAgra Foods’ “Child Hunger Ends Here” program for a Twitter chat around the issue. . We were joined by 2014 NCLR ALMA Award recipient and Hollywood star María Canals-Barrera, who took questions from NCLR and Twitter users about what they can do to get involved. Below are highlights from that chat.

The chat included some great comments from the Twitterverse:

We moved on to our last couple of questions for Canals-Barrera:

Our contributors had some other helpful tips:

And with that, our chat came to a close.

The chat may have ended, but that doesn’t mean the conversation around child hunger should. We strongly urge you all to keep talking about this. Together, we will end child hunger.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Nov. 28

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Week Ending November 28

This week in immigration reform: NCLR provides additional resources to Affiliates and partners; numerous NCLR Affiliates celebrate the announcement of administrative relief; and President Obama continues to make the case for executive action on immigration. NCLR kept the community informed in a number of news pieces this week, with staff quoted in Politico, the Associated Press, and appearing on Enfoque.

NCLR updates resources following the announcement of executive action: NCLR has been disseminating information on administrative relief to Affiliates and allies. NCLR will continue to update these resources on our administrative relief resource webpage. The resources include a summary of administrative relief, flyers for community members in English and Spanish, slides for a community education presentation in English and Spanish, a recording of a webinar on what we know so far about administrative relief, and links on preventing fraud.

NCLR Affiliates celebrate the announcement of administrative relief: Numerous organizations across the country welcomed President Obama’s announcement of deferred action for millions of undocumented immigrants. Among the events held by NCLR Affiliates are the following:

The Center for Latino Progress held a rally with Senator Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to celebrate.

The Latin American Coalition held a watch party to listen to the president’s announcement. In an article on the event, Armando Bellmas with the Latin American Coalition said, “One of the things that struck me about the speech is that this is a human issue, it’s not so much about politics. It’s not about money, it’s about people, and we are talking about millions of people here.”

Casa de Maryland organized community members for watch parties in Maryland and in front of the White House.

El Pueblo, Inc. Youth Council volunteer Karla Salgado, who was featured in a previous installment of NCLR’s ‘Hanging in the Balance’ blog series, was interviewed by a local news station. She is now eligible for relief under the expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

El Concilio in California also hosted a viewing event on the eve of the president’s announcement. El Concilo President and CEO Jose Rodriguez said, “The use of executive action is what generally starts the dialogue,” he said. “Once the president takes action, then Congress tinkers with whatever action he’s taken to try to form some type of legislation, so maybe this will lead to that. Hopefully this will lead to legislation that will enact some real reform.”

ImmReformUpdate_11_26_2014_pic1 El Concilo President and CEO Jose R. Rodriguez watches President Barack Obama’s speech on immigration via a live feed at El Concilo’s office in downtown Stockton. CLIFFORD OTO/THE RECORD

Centro Hispano Daniel Torres produced a special broadcast in Spanish to share information about the president’s announcement.

The Resurrection Project handed out flyers with information about administrative relief during masses in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood to ensure that community members are informed and have accurate information.

If you have activities and events you are coordinating related to administrative relief, please share the information with Laura Vazquez at lvazquez@nclr.org

President Obama continued to make the case for executive action and calling on Congress to pass a comprehensive reform bill: President Obama spoke at a community center in Chicago on Tuesday to explain why he was taking action on immigration. In his remarks, he highlighted the economic contributions of immigrants and referred to a new report by the White House Council of Economic Advisors.  According to the report, the president’s actions will boost the gross domestic product between $90 billion and $210 billion over the next decade and reduce the deficit by about $25 billion during that time. The report also estimates that the president’s actions will lead to a .3 percent average wage increase for native-born workers by 2024.

Show Your Thanks to Farmworkers for Your Thanksgiving Day Meal!

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Take a moment to show your support and to say thanks to farmworkers everywhere for bringing food to our tables on Thanksgiving Day and every other day of the year! Click here to send your thanks!

Our Response to the Ferguson Decision

Ferguson_FBPostPicLast night, the world watched and waited for the St. Louis County grand jury decision on whether to indict indict Ferguson, Mo. police officer Darren Wilson for the shooting death of teenager Michael Brown. Shortly after 9 p.m. ET, St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch gave a press conference in which he announced that the grand jury returned a decision not to indict Officer Wilson, which sparked a wave of protest across the country. In respone, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía issued, the following statement.

“We share the sadness and stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson, Mo., as well as those throughout our country and especially in communities of color, who were hoping for fairness and accountability in yesterday’s decision. Most of all, we stand with the Brown family, who must continue to wait for justice for their son,” said Murguía. “This case is a stern reminder of how encounters between law enforcement and youth of color can result in excessive force and needless loss of life. As a nation, the implications of continuing on that path are grim and demand action.”

“If this is not to be another setback on our nation’s quest to ensure equal justice for all, then this decision must not be the end, but a beginning,” Murguía continued. “For that to happen, we as a nation need to engage in real and honest dialogue across communities. We need to confront and address both the perception and the reality that communities of color, especially our young men, receive disparate treatment from law enforcement and our criminal justice system. We need to recognize that restoring trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve—as so many cities and areas of our country have done—is essential for the safety and well-being of us all. Then, and only then, can we move forward from this tragic moment.”

Join our Twitter Chat to End Child Hunger Today!

We can end child hunger, but only if we work together. Join us today at 2:30 ET for a chat with special guest, Maria Canals-Barrera! She’ll be answering your questions and offering advice for fighting hunger in America. We’ll see you there!

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Weekly Washington Outlook — November 24, 2014

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

The House is in recess, returning Monday, December 1.

Senate:

The Senate is in recess, returning Monday, December 1.

White House:

On Monday, the president will present nineteen recipients the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the Nation’s highest civilian honor, awarded to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. The First Lady will also attend.

On Tuesday, President Obama will travel to the Chicago area to meet with community leaders and discuss the executive actions he is taking to fix our broken immigration system.

On Wednesday, the president will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the White House.

On Thursday, President Obama will celebrate Thanksgiving at the White House. There are no public events scheduled.

On Friday, the president has no public events scheduled.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending Nov. 21

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Week Ending November 21

This week in immigration reform: President Obama announces executive action on immigration; NCLR participates in a unity press conference supporting the president’s executive action; NCLR and partners deliver over 260,000 petitions to the White House; NCLR provides administrative relief resources; and NCLR and Democratic allies continues making the case for executive action.

NCLR kept the community informed in a number of news pieces this week, with staff quoted in The Hill, The Dallas Morning News, San Jose Mercury News, Modern Healthcare, and CNN, and featured on MSNBC, Telemundo, and, again, on MSNBC.

President Obama takes executive action to provide relief to five million undocumented immigrants: The president made a long-awaited announcement on Thursday outlining his plan for administrative relief for undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States at least five years. In his address, he pledged to offer deportation relief for a period of three years for those immigrants who met certain criteria. His plan includes expanding DACA, allowing parents of U.S. citizens and legal residents to petition for deferred action, permitting provisional waivers of unlawful presence for some relatives of U.S. citizens and legal residents, improving immigrant and nonimmigrant programs to grow the economy, and promoting naturalization. Additionally, he will provide more resources at the southern border and will replace Secure Communities with the “Priority Enforcement Program.”

NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía reacted to the announcement saying, “This action is a victory for the president, a victory for millions of American families and workers, a victory for our country, and a victory for common sense. The president has exercised the leadership we needed him to, acting in the country’s best interest and opening a path for Republicans in Congress to legislate on the issue. Executive action will improve our security by getting people living in the shadows to come forward and go through criminal background checks. It will bolster our economy so those who are working will do so legally in a way that increases tax contributions for the nation and prevents bad employers from pitting them against U.S.-citizen workers. And it will bring greater stability to millions of families—which include U.S. citizens and legal residents—as well as the communities in which they live.”

ImmReformUpdate_11_21_2014_pic1NCLR Affiliate TODEC Watch Party for President Obama’s Announcement

NCLR and other civil rights groups voice support for executive action: This week NCLR joined with 15 other civil rights groups to support President Obama’s action on immigration, including Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the Human Rights Campaign, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the League of United Latin American Citizens, Mi Familia Vota, the NAACP, the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation (NCBCP), the National Urban League and Voto Latino.

Janet Murguía speaks alongside civil rights leaders and immigration reform activists during a press conference discussing immigration reform at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, November 20, 2014. 

NCLR and immigrant advocate deliver petitions to the White House: Additionally, this week NCLR delivered more than 260,000 petitions to the White House in partnership with numerous immigrant advocacy groups. The petitions urge President Obama to take executive action and to do what he can to fix our broken immigration system in the presence of House Republican obstructionism. A blog by America’s Voice covered the event, citing Laura Vazquez, Senior Immigration Legislative Analyst at NCLR, as saying “President Obama must seize this moment to fulfill his promise to bring some sanity to our immigration system. He has the power, precedent, and priority for action. Republican inaction on immigration reform reaffirms the need for the president to step in and address the ongoing crisis that our community faces.”

 

NCLR updates resources following the announcement of executive action: NCLR will continue posting resources on our website as information becomes available. Additionally, www.adminrelief.org is a resource center available to those attempting to navigate administrative relief and petitioning for deferred action.

NCLR CONTINUES TO MAKE THE CASE FOR EXECUTIVE ACTION: Even though the president has made his announcement, it is still vital that advocacy groups continue making the argument for executive action. In pursuit of this goal, NCLR published a fact sheet this week outlining the economic cost of inaction by House Republicans on comprehensive immigration reform. It also provides a timeline from the passage of the bipartisan Senate bill through Congress’ recess in August, highlighting the squandering of a true opportunity to pass immigration reform by House Republicans.

Democratic Members of Congress echoed the findings of NCLR’s publication, with multiple Members making statements this week in support of executive action and emphasizing it is needed as a direct result of House Republican inaction. The below statements were made on the House Floor earlier this week:

Representative Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) offered “Republicans have done nothing. They have refused to act. If the Republicans are unwilling to use their power to act, then the president must act. In fact, recently 117 of my colleagues and I sent a letter to President Obama urging him to act now. Since 1952, every single president, regardless of political party, has used their broad executive authority to shape our nation’s immigration policy. So the president’s decision to use executive action is not unprecedented. Neither is it ideal, but unfortunately it is necessary. We can no longer stand by while we separate mothers from their children, throw young people out of this country. The only strategy that republicans in this house have had has been deport, deport, deport.”

Representative Joe Garcia (D-Fla.) said “This Republican Congress has done nothing to address immigration reform and has only been an obstacle to this process. Now is the time for the president to act. His legal standing is solid. It is time for us to act. Now is the time to do what is right, what is fair, what is just, not only for the immigrant community but for this great country.”

Representative Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) noted “The United States Senate passed in a bipartisan way a comprehensive immigration bill dealing with a very important problem in this country. It is supported by labor unions and it is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Again, a bipartisan vote in the United States Senate. Are we doing that here today? No. We can’t even bring that to the floor to have a debate because this leadership in this House runs such a closed process.”

We Must Invest in Early Childhood Education

By Leticia Bustillos, PhD, Associate Director, Education Policy Project, NCLR

ACAdiabetesblog_pic1_resizedMy daughter’s first day in child care was perhaps one of the most difficult days I ever faced as a mom. From the day I started exploring child care options to the night before Isabella’s first day at school, I was fully confident in my decision to take her to the child care center that other parents had recommended. Despite the fact that my mother, who had been her primary caregiver once I returned to work, was adamantly against me taking Isabella out of her care, I was firm in my belief that my daughter would benefit from center-based care, as they would further her social, emotional, and learning development.

But then it was time to say goodbye.

All of a sudden, the decision that was backed up by reams of research and parents’ rave reviews could not stand up against Isabella’s tears and my sudden fear that perfect strangers could not possibly care, nurture, and protect my daughter as much as my mother or I could. In that moment of saying goodbye, I was the worst mother in the world for leaving her in distress in an unfamiliar environment with people she never met but whom I was entrusting with her safety, her happiness, and her early development.

Every day across the country, mothers and fathers rely on a child care system that they hope is safe, inspires joy, and promotes the positive development of their children. While I had the benefit of a background in education to help me identify and seek out the best child care options, not all parents have the same opportunities and must instead rely on recommendations from friends and neighbor—and a great deal of faith—that the choices they make are the best ones for their children. For that reason, the reauthorization of the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is a significant first step in crafting a new vision for the care and education of children for low-income and working families.

In a show of bipartisan and bicameral support, the bill calls for a significant overhaul of the law, last reauthorized in 1996, such that the level of care children receive is of high quality and meets a new standard of health and safety. The reauthorization of the CCDBG requires:

  • Background checks for all child care providers
  • Providers to receive ongoing training in essential health and safety practices to keep children safe while in care
  • Yearly inspections of licensed and licensed-exempt child care settings with the publication of results on a user-friendly website
  • A percentage of funds to be dedicated to help providers meet and sustain higher levels of quality, adopting program guidelines describing what children should know and be able to do, including developmental benchmarks for children from birth to kindergarten
  • The receipt of professional development to best meet the needs of students of multiple age groups, English language learners, and children with disabilities

Additional changes are especially important for low-income and working families, notably the continuity of care provision, which stipulates that all children will receive a minimum of 12 months of service regardless of changes to a parent’s work or income and before a state re-determines eligibility. Moreover, states are required to prioritize the needs of children who reside in communities with high concentrations of poverty and unemployment, such that their investments make available increased access to high-quality early care providers. For Latino families whose primary language may not be English, this renewed commitment to early care and education ensures the needs of their children are met by the stipulation that professional development and training provided to caregivers adequately support the social, emotional, and cognitive development of English language learners.

As a first step, these changes are significant, but more must be done. Though research shows that attending preschool has academic and social benefits, estimates show that more than 60 percent of Latino children ages 3–4 are not in preschool. Additionally, data show that current funding levels only reach one in five children eligible for care, meaning that too many families are left without support and must make difficult choices about the quality of care they can and cannot afford. Proactive investment in early childhood care and education, including increased parental outreach, prioritizing the needs of low-income and working families, and increased funding tied to the improvement of programs will assure parents that their children are safe and receiving the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Though there were a fair share of bumps and many more tears, Isabella and I survived her first week of care. Despite the diagnosis of an early learning disability, a change in center-based care, and a seemingly endless parade of paperwork and red tape, Isabella ultimately thrived in her prekindergarten experience. Our goodbyes were no longer characterized by tears and despair, but rather by excitement and joy for the friends she would see, the hugs she would receive from her caregivers, and the stories she would tell at the end of each school day. I knew she was happy and safe; now at the age of eight, Isabella is ready to take on the world (or so she likes to say). My hope is that all parents have this level of assurance and comfort when they choose providers for their children; with the bill reauthorizing the Child Care Development Block Grant now signed by the president, we are one step closer.

See our fact sheet below for more.

Childcare Development Block Grant Fact Sheet

Janet Murguía on President Obama’s Immigration Action

Last night after the president’s historic immigration announcement, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguia joined Rachel Maddow and Chris Hayes to share her thoughts on his remarks. Watch the short segment below.