The Country Can’t Afford a Rollback of Dodd-Frank

By Nancy Wilberg Ricks, Senior Policy and Communications Strategist, NCLR

Last week, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby introduced a 218-page bill, the “Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015,” which would substantially roll back gains made in the Dodd-Frank Act. This is deeply concerning and should give all Americans pause.

In 2010, the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act was signed into law to right the economy and prevent another financial crisis. It involved some of the most expansive bipartisan legislation since the New Deal in the 1930s.

The nation has already benefited from Dodd-Frank’s improvements to the market. Families are no longer completely exposed to the risk of unnecessarily losing their homes. Credit card terms are better and clearer. Many fringe financial products have been brought to light and restrained. Consumers are more empowered and aware of their rights. This was the intended result and consumers are grateful.

Today the Senate Banking Committee held a markup on rollbacks that would swing the pendulum backward—to the state of deregulation that led to the financial crisis. This is unacceptable.

The financial industry is experiencing growing pains from Dodd-Frank. Some in Congress see this as a bad thing. Consumers and honest lenders think otherwise. The methods banks and nonbanks alike used to make a profit were hazardous to the market and acutely harmful for families, so many of whom saw a generation of wealth vaporize.

In today’s markup, we saw committee members vote along party lines, some in support of vastly loosened standards for banks and nonbanks. Other senators voted for families to maintain a foothold in the financial industry and keep consumer protections.

Let’s Not Repeat This Part of History

While most Americans have grown tired of hearing about the crisis and recovery, we are at risk of repeating history. Latino families are just now beginning to recover. Hispanics lost 66 percent of their household wealth between 2005 and 2009. These trends were exacerbated by geographic location, as a disproportionate share of Latinos live in California, Florida, Nevada, and Arizona, the states that experienced the steepest declines in housing values during the crisis.

In the aftermath, there was a palpable sense that the financial system was fundamentally unsound and action was needed to prevent a future crisis of the same magnitude. That is where Dodd-Frank came in to make repairs.

Responsible regulations and oversight are essential to protecting Latino consumers and ensuring that honest lenders strengthen today’s economy. Hispanics are the nation’s largest minority group, representing 16.4 percent of the U.S. population. Of the 17 million new homes that will be created between 2010 and 2025, seven million will be purchased by Hispanics.

The strong protections that were enacted by the Dodd-Frank Act are critical to ensuring that families can afford their loans and are not targeted by predatory players. Beyond maintaining commonsense regulations, Congress should have viewed this legislative season as a time to finally build the legacy of financial empowerment for families throughout the nation. Instead, they strive to return the markets to risky, unstable times.

Why Don’t Consumer Protections Apply when Buying a Car?

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Photo: Daniel Oines, Creative Commons

When the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) was created in 2010 as part of landmark financial reform to protect American consumers, auto dealers were notably excluded from the CFPB’s authority. Although a car is most Americans’ second-largest purchase, the only federal agency dedicated to consumer protection has been unable to directly regulate auto lenders to prevent discriminatory practices.

With outstanding car loans totaling $935 billion, fairness and transparency in auto lending is essential for a fair economy that works for all communities. Though Congress has yet to introduce a bill to bring auto lending under CFPB scrutiny, the time is right for a real legislative fix that would end carve-outs originally included for the auto lending industry.

Many other industry and consumer experts have recognized the need for a change and have come out in support of reform. Last week, the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) published a blog post urging Congress to level the auto lending playing field. The call to give the CFPB authority to weed out discrimination in the auto industry is consistent with a September 2013 report from BPC’s Financial Regulatory Reform Initiative.

Currently, auto dealers are given wide leeway in how they charge interest rates to consumers, often varying and raising rates for different consumers without reason. While this often unfair practice affects all car buyers negatively, research shows Blacks and Latinos are more likely to see an interest rate markup than White consumers. Controlling for creditworthiness, Latinos and Blacks still typically receive higher markups than White borrowers.

CFPB_LogoWhile the CFPB already has taken action to root out auto lending discrimination, it must currently do so through indirect means, by focusing on banks that auto dealers work with rather than the unscrupulous auto dealers themselves.

Through a strong legislative fix, Congress could remove the needless exclusion of auto lending from the CFPB’s authority and bring fairness to a market impacting a highly significant portion of consumers’ financial lives.

For most Americans today, having a car is a necessity, not a luxury. From transportation to and from jobs to trips to the grocery store, cars remain a major part of life for the vast majority of Americans. Communities of color deserve to shop for cars free from interest rate discrimination.

Study: Financial Stability Eludes Many College-educated Latinos

Photo: http://401kcalculator.org, Creative Commons

Photo: http://401kcalculator.org, Creative Commons

New findings from a TIAA-CREF Institute study show the continued fragile financial state of Latinos. This study focuses on the economic status of college-educated Hispanics, drawing on data from the 2012 National Financial Capability Study and examining the personal finances of respondents.

Over half (59 percent) of college-educated Latinos reported that they had difficulty meeting monthly financial obligations, and over half were also unable to put away savings. Increased levels of educational attainment generally correspond with greater economic opportunities and, potentially, greater financial stability, making these findings concerning.

The TIAA-CREF study echoes what was found in Banking in Color, a report released by NCLR, the National Urban League, and the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development in 2014. This report was based on a survey of the financial access of low- and moderate-income communities of color in various U.S. cities. When asked where they would turn for funds in the event of a financial emergency, nearly half (42 percent) of all respondents said they did not know where they would acquire the money. Moreover, nearly one in three (31 percent) individuals employed full time said that they had experienced a financial emergency within the previous year.

While the economy is recovering from the Great Recession, clearly for many Americans, especially those in communities of color, that recovery is slow in coming.

One difference in findings between Banking in Color and the TIAA-CREF data was in savings behavior. As noted above, the majority of college educated Latinos in the TIAA-CREF survey did not have savings, and in contrast, almost half of Banking in Color respondents reported that they saved on a monthly basis. This was a positive trend, though most reported that they relied on saving via a traditional savings account, which is a relatively low-interest savings vehicle. Moreover, because so many reported having experienced a financial emergency within the past year, it is unclear whether they could sustain a financial hardship with their household savings.

Shifting demographics in the U.S. make the ability of Latinos to reach financial security a critical issue for public policy to address. Population projections show that the U.S. will become “majority minority” in 2043, less than 30 years from now. The ability of Latinos and other low-income communities to secure their economic footing will greatly impact the strength of our national economy.

We Will Not Stop Fighting for DAPA Until Relief for Families is Restored

May 19 marked the day that the federal government would have started accepting DAPA applications. Unfortunately, a politically-motivated lawsuit to block implementation of DAPA and the extended DACA has succeeded, while families grapple with the threat of separation. This week, immigrant families, faith and union leaders, as well elected officials rallied in more than 30 cities in 22 states to demand that these lawsuits be dropped. Below are some highlights from the various events around the country.

Our Affiliate in North Carolina, Latin American Coalition, also held rallies.

DACA Made a Future Nurse’s Dreams Become Reality

Living the Dream-01 (2)

By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR

When Jose Aguiluz was 15, he was involved in a severe car accident in his native Honduras. Desperate for help, his aunt contacted doctors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. The staff were able to perform the required surgery, and it wasn’t long before Jose and his aunt traveled from Honduras to the United States. His immediate family joined soon after so they could be by his side before and after the procedure.

The surgery came at a great cost, however. Jose’s parents had to sell everything they owned to pay for it and to be with him.

That was almost 10 years ago. Yet it was a fateful event for many reasons. During his stay at the prestigious medical facility, Jose discovered his passion for medicine. It also marked the beginning of a new life.

Jose remained in the U.S.—a decision that was beyond his control—and in time his visa expired. Despite the hardships brought on by his undocumented status, Jose proved to be a spectacular student. Although his status barred him from receiving financial aid, Jose managed to find jobs to pay his tuition and fees at Montgomery College. His workday started at 5:00 a.m., followed by classes at night.

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When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program was established, Jose knew he had an opportunity to finally achieve his potential. He chose to pursue a nursing degree and was dedicated to making this dream come true, no matter what obstacles were in his way.

“Education is the path we have to become someone in our lives,” said Jose.

Jose continued to balance work and school once he started his nursing education. Despite a hectic schedule, he became active in his community too. He worked to pass the Maryland DREAM Act by canvassing neighborhoods and encouraging people to get out the vote. This civic experience made the DACA announcement that much more special for Jose.

On the day President Obama introduced DACA, Jose went to NCLR Affiliate CASA de Maryland to talk with fellow youth organizers and share in the victory they had worked so hard to achieve. He filled out his DACA application, anxious to receive his work permit and finally advance toward his dreams. The best part was being able to take his board examinations. Since January 2014, Jose has been employed at Washington Adventist Hospital as a registered nurse.

Jose has already achieved much, but the 23-year-old is just getting started. He continues to contribute to his community as a member of Casa’s board of directors. He is also continuing his studies and plans to pursue an advanced degree in public health at the school where it all started: Johns Hopkins University.

Without DACA, Jose knows that getting to this point would have been nearly impossible, and he pleads with Congress and the 26 states that have blocked DACA expansion and the new Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program. “Only by removing these roadblocks can we show everyone what we’re capable of,” he says.

Gaby Gomez, NCLR Communications Department intern, contributed to this blog post.

Weekly Washington Outlook — May 18, 2015

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

Photo: Harris Walker, Creative Commons

What to Watch This Week:

Congress:

House:

On Monday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 474 – Homeless Veterans’ Reintegration Programs Reauthorization Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Rep. Brad Wenstrup / Veterans’ Affairs Committee) 
  • R. 1038 – Ensuring VA Employee Accountability Act (Sponsored by Rep. Ryan Costello / Veterans’ Affairs Committee) 
  • R. 1313 – Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Relief Act (Sponsored by Rep. Jerry McNerney / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)
  • R. 1382 – Boosting Rates of American Veteran Employment Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Rice / Veterans’ Affairs Committee) 
  • R. 91 – Veteran’s I.D. Card Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Vern Buchanan / Veterans’ Affairs Committee) 
  • R. 1816 – Vulnerable Veterans Housing Reform Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Joe Heck / Financial Services Committee)
  • R. 1987 – Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Duncan Hunter / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • 178 – Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (Sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn / Judiciary Committee) 

On Tuesday, the House will consider legislation under suspension of the rules:

  • R. 874 – American Super Computing Leadership Act (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1162 – Science Prize Competitions Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Don Beyer / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1119 – Research and Development Efficiency Act (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1156 – International Science and Technology Cooperation Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dan Lipinski / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1561 – Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)
  • R. 1158 – Department of Energy Laboratory Modernization and Technology Transfer Act of 2015, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Randy Hultgren / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

The House on Tuesday will also vote on the following:

  • R. 2253 – Highway and Transportation Funding Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Shuster / Transportation and Infrastructure Committee)
  • R. 2250 – Legislative Branch Appropriations Act, 2016 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Graves / Appropriations Committee)

On Wednesday, the House will vote on the following:

  • R. 880 – American Research and Competitiveness Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin Brady / Ways and Means Committee)
  • R. 1806 – America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

Finally, on Thursday, the House will consider H.R. 2262 – SPACE Act of 2015 (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kevin McCarthy / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

Senate:

The Senate will resume consideration this week of trade-related legislation.  Later in the week, the Senate may schedule votes on a two-month extension of funding for the Highway Trust Fund and another two-month extension of some National Security Agency counterterrorism provisions in the USA Patriot Act.

White House:

On Monday, the president will travel to Camden, N.J. to visit with local law enforcement and meet with young people in the Camden community. President Obama will hear directly about the efforts of the Camden County Police Department to build trust between their Department and the community they serve. Camden was recently designated as a “Promise Zone,” which leverages federal grants to increase economic opportunity, reduce crime and improve public health, among other priorities identified by the community. The president will discuss how these kinds of partnerships and community investments are a crucial part of creating ladders of opportunity for all Americans.

On Tuesday, President Obama will attend meetings at the White House.

On Wednesday, the president will travel to New London, Conn. to deliver the commencement address at the United States Coast Guard Academy. While in Connecticut, President Obama will also attend a DNC event. On Thursday, the president will hold a bilateral meeting with President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia at the White House. The visit will underscore the United States’ longstanding friendship with Tunisia and our support for the Tunisian people following their historic 2014 democratic elections. The two leaders will discuss a range of issues pertaining to the continued consolidation of Tunisia’s democracy, U.S.-Tunisian security cooperation, and Tunisia’s efforts to advance important economic reforms. In the afternoon, President Obama will hold a Cabinet meeting.

On Friday, the president will travel to Congregation Adas Israel, one of the largest congregations in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, to deliver remarks in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month, which recognizes the contributions of Jewish Americans to American society and culture.  The president’s visit also coincides with Solidarity Shabbat, when government officials in Europe and North America take part in synagogue visits and other events to highlight their commitment to combating anti-Semitism. In the afternoon, President Obama and the first lady will host the Diplomatic Corps Reception for the foreign diplomatic corps at the White House.

Also This Week:

Appropriations – The House Appropriations Committee will mark-up the Commerce-Science-Justice spending bill on Wednesday. The draft measure provides $51.4 billion, an increase of $1.3 billion from last year but $661 million less than the President’s request.  The bill reportedly does not fund programs established by the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, and reduces funding for the Community Oriented Policing program. It would create a new policy-community relations program in response to events in Baltimore. Immigration-related riders are also possible.  Elsewhere, the Senate may meet on May 21st to provide so-called 302(b) allocations, the amount of money for each particular spending bill. The Senate has also scheduled subcommittee mark-ups for its Military Construction-VA and Energy and Water bills.

Education – After much speculation that the Student Success Act (H.R. 5) could be brought back to the floor this week, it is not currently on this week’s schedule despite its inclusion in Majority Leader McCarthy’s memo for this work period. Instead, all eyes remain on the Senate as members prepare to take up a bipartisan ESEA reauthorization in early June. There has been some discussion on the Hill that the timing for bringing this bill to the floor could slip to July or even the fall. However, the business and civil rights community is continuing to work to get support on both sides of the aisle for an amendment that would strengthen the accountability system in the bill.

Financial Services – The Senate Banking Committee had originally planned a mark-up last week of an extensive bill to provide “regulatory relief” to financial services entities including small and regional banks, community banks, non-banks, and credit unions.  As a result of objections from Committee Democrats over a rushed process, the mark-up has instead been scheduled for Thursday. The delay is unlikely to garner significant Democratic support for what is widely seen as an extreme bill designed to undermine the Dodd-Frank Act rather than provide targeted relief to community banks and credit unions.

Policing – The president will give remarks in Camden, N.J. on Monday highlighting recommendations for the Task Force on 21st Century Policing and new resources, including a toolkit on body cameras, cities can use to build trust between law enforcement and communities. On Capitol Hill, two committees are holding hearings on the same topic.  The Senate Judiciary Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee will meet on Tuesday on body cameras and the House Judiciary Committee will also convene Tuesday for a broad hearing on policing.

Health – The House Education and Workforce Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Tuesday on child nutrition programs. Similarly, the House Agriculture Nutrition Subcommittee will hold a hearing on Wednesday on SNAP.

Tax – Both the House and Senate are expected to clear a two-month extension of highway funding. The House is also scheduled to vote on H.R. 880, a permanent extension of the Research and Development Tax Credit.  This legislation is not offset.

This Week in Immigration Reform — Week Ending May 15

Immigration_reform_Updates_blue

Week Ending May 15

This week in immigration reform: provision in support of allowing undocumented immigrants to serve in the military voted down; NCLR continues blog series on deferred action recipients; and recently released policy agenda highlights Latino priorities and the importance of the Latino vote.

Amendment to defense policy bill strips language in support of allowing DREAMers to serve in the military: This week the House of Representatives voted on amendments to and final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a bill to fund the military. In committee, a bipartisan group approved an amendment by Congressman Gallego (D-Ariz.) to encourage the Pentagon to consider allowing DREAMers to serve in the military. However, when the NDAA came to the floor late this week, Alabama Republican Congressman Brooks offered an amendment to strip out Gallego’s language. A NPR piece quotes Republican Congressman Coffman (R-Colo.): “I’m disappointed in my colleagues for fighting this. I’m not sure why they’re so opposed to this. I’ve been in the Congress side by side with people who are opposed to this, but yet they themselves didn’t want to serve. These young people ought to have the opportunity to serve.” The Brooks amendment passed 221-202. All Democrats who voted opposed the Brooks amendment, along with 20 Republicans. The NDAA passed the House this morning 269-151. Other House Republicans have voiced support for legislation to allow DREAMers to serve in the military, including Congressman Denham (R-Calif.), who re-introduced the ENLIST Act in April.

NCLR Blog features DACA recipient Jesus Chavez: This week’s installment of our ‘Living the American DREAM’ blog series tells the story of Jesus Chavez, a gay undocumented activist from California’s Central Valley. In spite of his undocumented status, Jesus found a way to attend and afford college, where he was active in student-led immigrant advocate groups. When President Obama announced DACA in 2012, he worked with the on-campus group Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE) to assist other students through the application process. DACA has enabled Jesus to pursue his passion: advocacy for the “undocuqueer.” He currently works at PFLAG, a LGBT civil rights organization. Recently, Jesus received the “Next Generation Award” from Metro Weekly, a D.C.-based LGBT magazine. With DACA, Jesus can continue advocating for his community. Jesus notes, “There are so many undocumented LGBT people who struggle, not only because they’re undocumented, but because they’re out and deal with lots of criticism. We need to keep fighting for what we think is right.”

NCLR releases policy agenda emphasizing Latino priorities: This week NCLR held a press conference to mark the release of a new report, “Investing in our Future: A Latino Policy Agenda for the 114th Congress.” The event featured speakers from the Center for American Progress, Latino Decisions and NCLR. The agenda outlines overarching Latino policy priorities in light of the upcoming 2016 elections. Our blog covering the release notes, “The guide provides policymakers with concrete steps they can take to improve educational and economic outcomes for Latino families, support enrollment in health insurance and move forward on passing comprehensive immigration reform. Latinos are a growing segment of the U.S. population and a critical part of our nation’s future workforce; their success is intrinsically tied to the success of our nation and our future economic prosperity.”  Find out more in our news release, read a summary, and read the report.

Home Care Is Real Work That Deserves a Fair Wage

By Stephanie Román, Economic Policy Analyst, NCLR

HomeCareWorkersblog_pic1
Supporters of the Home Care Rule in front of the Federal Courthouse in Washington, DC at the Home Care Rule press conference.

D’Rosa is a home care worker who struggles to make ends meet. She is from Georgia, where she works with elderly adults. At a recent press event in Washington, DC, D’Rosa and other home care workers addressed a crowd of reporters and advocates to make the case that home care work is real work.

D’Rosa spoke about the aspects of her work that she loves—forming strong bonds with her clients—but also its difficulties: “I do not get any overtime. It’s $9 an hour no matter how many hours we work. I love my job, but my family is just scraping by.” Home care workers like D’Rosa are fighting not only for access to minimum wage regulations and overtime protections, but also for recognition and dignity as workers.

D’Rosa’s story is just one of many from home care workers who would benefit from a pending U.S. Department of Labor rule on home care. The much-needed rule would expand minimum wage and overtime rights established by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to the two million home care workers who currently lack these basic protections.

Home care workers are predominately immigrant women and women of color. They provide individual care to elderly adults and assist people with disabilities with daily living tasks. NCLR has produced fact sheets and blog posts on these critical yet vulnerable workers.

In January, the Department of Labor took a critical step to address poverty-level wages and a lack of overtime compensation for home care workers by issuing the Home Care Rule to expand FLSA protections. The rule corrects a decades-long injustice of excluding home care workers from basic employment protections. Home care workers were left out of the 1974 update to the FLSA that expanded labor protections to domestic workers.

The proposed rule reflects an increasing recognition of the value of home care work, yet the rule is being challenged in court by home care business associations. The legal challenge could mean that the two million U.S. home care workers who desperately need these protections will continue to struggle financially.

HomeCareWorkersblog_pic2

D’Rosa, a home care worker from Georgia, speaking at the Home Care Rule press conference..

Home care work is physically and emotionally demanding, there is high turnover, and compensation is low. Moreover, employers that pay their employees a living wage can benefit from less turnover, greater productivity, and lower training costs. Home care is a multibillion-dollar industry that is projected to keep growing as the U.S. population ages. By 2020, the home care industry is predicted to grow by 1.3 million jobs, a rate of 70 percent—much faster than the growth rate of 14 percent for all occupations.

Poverty-level wages undermine the economic security of workers and their families and do not equate with the value that home care workers provide. Home care workers make an average of $9.70 per hour. Another estimate, which factors in unpredictable schedules and part-time hours, approximates median annual earnings of just $13,000 for home care workers, leaving one-quarter of home care worker households below the federal poverty line.

It’s difficult to not be moved by the stories of everyday struggle that D’Rosa and others face as home care workers. As a working mother, she’s doing her best to provide for their children with wages that make it nearly impossible. The Department of Labor’s Home Care Rule would help tremendously in making sure that these valued workers can keep caring for our loved ones.

Without DACA, We Will Lose Fierce Advocates for Justice

Living the Dream-01 (2)

By David Castillo, New Media Manager, NCLR

Jesus Chavez at a 2013 immigration rally on the National Mall. Photo: Chavez Facebook page

Jesus Chavez at a 2013 immigration rally on the National Mall. Photo: Chavez Facebook page

As a gay undocumented youth, Jesus Chavez understands well the challenges of living with secrets. He grew up in California’s Central Valley always aware of his immigration status but forbidden from speaking about it.

At 14, Chavez vividly recalls watching coverage of the 2006 immigration reform rallies in cities and towns across the country. It was then that he realized why his parents had gone to great lengths to ensure that he and his siblings kept their undocumented status quiet. The rallies were in response to an anti-immigrant measure passed in the House of Representatives that would have ramped up enforcement measures and deportations.

“It made me realize how dangerous it was to reveal this secret,” said Chavez. “The idea of family separation…I couldn’t live in the United States without my mom.”

This early introduction to activism impacted Chavez’s college and career decisions. He had always been a bright student in school. He excelled in academics and also exhibited athleticism, which he still credits with helping him stay disciplined.

When it came time to apply for college, he knew his status would pose financial difficulties, so he hustled to find the money he would need to attend. When he graduated from high school, Chavez had managed to win $14,000 in private scholarships to help fund his academic career at University of California, Berkeley. It was a remarkable feat that showcased his tenacious spirit.

In college Chavez got involved with the undocumented youth movement, serving as the co-chair of Rising Immigrant Scholars through Education (RISE). When President Obama made his historic announcement on the creation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Chavez and RISE provided support to students who wanted to come out of the shadows. They worked with the law school’s immigration lawyer to help students through the application process.

Ironically, when it came time to apply for himself, Chavez realized he found greater joy in seeing others celebrate their deferred action. “At the time, I was working three jobs and wasn’t sure I would need DACA. I was happier for others because they realized they could now work legally, they could do study abroad programs,” he said. “Now that I am working for myself, having DACA has been amazing. I’ve been able to not just get jobs that I like, but also grow professionally. Having DACA is something I’m really thankful for.”

Jesus’s professional growth and activism has indeed gained him recognition in his young career. In 2013, he moved to Washington, DC, to intern with the National LGBTQ Task Force. Today, he works as the operations manager for PFLAG, another LGBT civil rights organization. He also held posts with the Latino GLBT History Project and attended the Union=Fuerza LGBT Latino conference.

Most recently, Chavez received the “Next Generation Award” by Washington’s LGBT magazine, Metro Weekly, for his commitment to improving the lives of all people. He admits to nearly rejecting the award because he didn’t think his experience warranted the honor. He ultimately changed his mind, but when speaking about the award, Chavez’s humility comes through.

“The Next Generation Award speaks to the undocuqueer movement and how they are using two identities to make themselves heard so we can reach equality,” said Chavez. “There are so many undocumented LGBT people who struggle, not only because they’re undocumented, but because they’re out and deal with lots of criticism. We need to keep fighting for what we think is right.”

Jesus’s story is certainly exceptional, and his accomplishments from college to now underscore the value of his contributions. The world is sorely in need of fighters like Chavez who are fiercely committed to advocating for what is right. Take DACA away and we lose a great talent.  Chavez is an excellent example of why we must keep fighting for the president’s executive action on extended DACA and DAPA.