By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR
This week, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC) held a press conference to announce a set of principles to guide the upcoming push for comprehensive immigration reform. The principles are thoughtful, fair, humane and pragmatic. They also reflect the unity of the Latino community—regardless of subgroup, geography, or party affiliation—on the issues surrounding immigration.
Our community wants to see permanent relief for DREAMers, a path to legality and citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented workers, and the preservation of family unity at the core of our immigration policy. We realize that these measures, together with smart and humane enforcement, are integral to restoring law and order to our country’s immigration system. Without such steps, our country cannot successfully attract and integrate hardworking immigrants from all over the world to maintain an innovative and competitive economy.
While it is true that immigration is not the top issue that our community faces, it is also true that the positions candidates have on immigration were the key motivating factor in getting a record numbers of Hispanics to vote on Election Day. Thus, we believe it would be a very wise move for everyone who is interested in moving forward on this issue with the Latino community to give as much attention as possible to what the CHC is saying. We must swiftly work together to deliver the solutions our country has been waiting for.
Congressional Hispanic Caucus, “ONE NATION: Principles on Immigration Reform and Our Commitment to the American Dream”
By Janis Bowdler, Director, Wealth-Building Policy Project, NCLR
One of the first moves by the newly minted Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was to issue a rule implementing new protections for money sent to loved ones abroad, known as remittances. Americans wire billions of dollars annually. Much of this business is done by immigrants, who are prey for hidden fees that drain hard-earned cash from those who can afford it least. Consequently, one goal of the new rule is to spur new technology and infrastructure that will make remittances safer and cheaper to send. Change is never easy, so I was not surprised when the new rule was met with deep opposition by some industry players. Still, no one wants to see promising and responsible providers leave the market.
As we approach the deadline for implementation (currently set for February 2013), it has become clear that modest refinements could make it easier for responsible companies to comply with the rule and compete in the market without sacrificing critical protections for the consumer. CFPB announced yesterday that it will issue draft adjustments for public comment next month. Richard Cordray, Director of the CFPB, deserves credit for standing firm on safeguarding remittances while also ensuring a workable and responsible marketplace.
Before this provision became law in the Dodd-Frank Act, it was nearly impossible to compare costs between remittance providers. The new law requires providers to disclose the exchange rate, fees, and the amount of funds that recipients can expect in their home currencies. It’s this last figure that is the critical innovation. Let me give you an example: If you attempt to send $100 to Mexico, one provider may state that your family will receive $1,200 pesos while another may state that your family will receive $1,100 pesos. For once, your choice has become obvious. It may be difficult to evaluate the tradeoffs between fees and exchange rates, but knowing the final amount that your loved ones will receive allows for classic comparison shopping.
Other anticipated adjustments include:
- Financial institutions, or senders, will not be held liable if a consumer provides a wrong account number. Senders can only match numbers, not names, and therefore have no way to verify the identity of receivers. They will still have to demonstrate that it is consumer error and will retain responsibility for investigating and recovering funds.
- Senders will be responsible for published fees, and when such fees are unknowable, they will have to overestimate so that the consumer has the advantage.
- Senders will have to account for the country federal tax, but not city or county taxes. There are very few local taxes, and those that exist are extremely modest.
NCLR firmly stands behind the CFPB’s original proposed regulations as well as recent amendments that will encourage greater openness and accountability in the remittance market. These rules will ensure that banks and other senders can continue to offer this very important product to Latinos.
Recently, Fox News Latino put NCLR’s Director of Civic Engagement and Immigration, Clarissa Martínez-De-Castro, on its list of “Top 10 Young Latinos in Politics to Watch in 2013.”
We’re surely no stranger to Martínez-De-Castro‘s abilities, and we couldn’t agree more. She effectively led a civic engagement effort this past election that resulted in 95,000 new Latino voters. The voter turnout this year for the Latino community was historic—more than 12 million Latinos went to the polls.
Here’s what Fox News Latino had to say about Martínez-De-Castro:
“Clarissa Martinez (NCLR): On Election Night, I asked a relevant friend in cable news production why Latinos are so seldom booked to speak on air about the Latino vote. Her answer: it is difficult to find Latinos with the adequate level of live media training and experience that primetime television warrants. Not so with Clarissa Martinez of the National Council of La Raza. She has been developing as a Latino affairs pundit on television since the last major drive for immigration reform in 2010. As the battle for immigration reform again heats up in 2013, look for Martinez to continue to grow as a recognizable voice of Latino advocacy.”
View some of those live media appearances below.
Martínez-de-Castro was an outspoken advocate during Justice Sotomayor’s nomination process.
Martínez-de-Castro talks in depth with veteran reporter, Maria Hinojosa
Congratulations, Clarissa, on the well-deserved recognition!
By Jose Ibarra, Field Organizer and Capacity-Building Strategist, NCLR
In late October, I had the opportunity to attend Southwest Key Program’s “Rock the Ballot Box” early voting block party in East Austin, Texas. As an NCLR Affiliate, Southwest Key Programs has shined in our Latino Empowerment and Advocacy Project (LEAP), registering nearly 650 new voters—250 more than their initial goal—and executing several “get out the vote” tactics, including phone banking, canvassing, direct mailings, and displaying posters and billboards throughout their neighborhood.
But Southwest Key Programs didn’t stop there. Additionally, they signed up to serve as a mobile early-voting site for three hours on the afternoon of October 26, as well as threw a block party to celebrate civic engagement within the community. Children sang the praises of our nation’s democracy, there were myriad posters encouraging the right to vote, and an amazing poetry slam on the history of voting by students and numerous professional poets was held. We were touched by the community’s pride in coming together to perform their civic duty. It was an event we will never forget.
This blog post from Southwest Key Programs describes in greater detail their civic engagement efforts:
The East Austin community gathered at the Southwest Key El Centro De Familia for food, family fun, and early voting. Despite stiff winds and a 20 degree temperature drop, people came out to the Southwest Key El Centro De Familia to Rock the Ballot Box! Continue reading
By Janet Murguía, President and CEO, National Council of La Raza
Since election night, one topic of immense interest to me has dominated the news cycle: the impact of the Latino vote on the 2012 election. After years of being treated as one of the best-kept secrets in politics, the need to reach out to Latino voters has suddenly become the hot topic of conversation for people on both sides of the aisle—even Sean Hannity. It has all the makings of not only a political phenomenon but a cultural phenomenon as well. In fact, if this were a sitcom, it would be called “The New Normal.” And this “New Normal” is not just about 2012; for several key reasons, our community’s clout is only going to grow in every election from here on out.
First, Latino voters have cemented themselves as a permanent part of the electorate. One reason why pundits who predicted a Romney landslide got it so wrong is that they assumed communities of color, and especially Latinos, would not vote at the same levels as they did in 2008. In fact, not only did Latino voters match their 2008 turnout, they surpassed it. We knew from our own surveys and analyses that Hispanic voters are deeply engaged in the political process and were very enthusiastic about participating in this year’s contest. But now Latinos also know that they have a voice. That voice made a difference, and they intend to keep using it.
Second, the size of that voice is going in only one direction: up. The Hispanic electorate grew by 26% between 2008 and 2012 to just a hair under 12 million voters. But Latinos are still significantly underrepresented in the American electorate. Yes, it’s true that only 50% of Hispanics over the age of 18 are registered to vote, but that is because a number of people are not yet citizens. Even so, there are 7.6 million Hispanic U.S. citizens eligible to vote who have not registered. No other significant group of voters, with the exception of voters ages 18 to 29, has such a gap. With real attention and real investment, these potential voters could be the low-hanging fruit for nonpartisan voter registration efforts. Continue reading