Our Fellow Americans in Puerto Rico Deserve Action

PRDayOfAction_1

Puerto Rican flags are waved as Members of Congress call on their colleagues to take action on Puerto Rico’s looming debt crisis.

Three and a half million Puerto Ricans are witnessing their economy slide toward default. This past summer, Puerto Rican Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla declared that the commonwealth’s debt was “not payable.” While Obama administration officials have taken steps toward mitigating the situation, Congress, which is primarily responsible for resolving the issue, has left calls to address the looming debt crisis unanswered.

Yesterday, NCLR joined several legislators and other civil rights groups for a National Day of Action for Puerto Rico. Together with Latino leaders and allies, NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía called on Congress to take real action to assist Puerto Rico in resolving its debt.

“It is long past time for the Republican leadership in Congress to step up and make the essential changes to policy that will help resolve this crisis,” Murguía said. “They need to show our fellow Americans, many of whom have served or have had family members serve this country proudly in the U.S. armed forces, that they are not forgotten.”

PRDayOfAction3

NCLR President Janet Murguía at the Puerto Rico Day of Action on Capitol Hill.

Most aspects of life for the 3.5 million people on the island have been affected. Jobless rates are soaring, the quality of education has dipped, and health care infrastructure is crumbling. Yet despite the enormity of the impact of Puerto Rico’s debt crisis on our fellow Americans who live there, the crisis has not received the level of attention merited. The Obama administration has outlined a proposal to soften the economic ordeal, but congressional partisanship has kept legislators from taking any actionable steps.

“We cannot stand by and let so many continue to suffer the consequences of this fiscal crisis—it goes against our nation’s values to sit idly while so many of our own see their lives turned upside down by circumstances totally out of their control,” Murguía said.

NCLR will continue to work with its nearly 300 Affiliate groups across the country, many of whom work with the Puerto Rican community on the mainland, to help mitigate the effects of the crisis on those here and to press for the changes where they are needed: in Congress. To allow the situation to worsen is to turn our backs on American citizens in dire need of assistance.

Accountability Must be Included in Education Bill to Fulfill its Promise to Students

GSI_photo3

After more than a decade, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act appears to be headed for reauthorization. The last time the civil rights law was rewritten was 2002, when it was rebranded as “No Child Left Behind.” The current rewrite is in the final stages as House members have been named to serve on the bill’s conference committee, which will reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions before putting it up for a vote in each body.

This week, NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, hosted a conference call for Affiliates and NCLR supporters with the Department of Education’s Delegated Deputy Secretary, Dr. John B. King, Jr.

You can listen to the entire call below.

 
The following are prepared remarks Janet Murguía made during the live call:

No Child Left Behind or NCLB is of immense importance to the Latino community since our children make up not only the largest ethnic majority in the American classroom but also one of every four students in this country. NCLB was enacted more than a decade ago during the Bush Administration and it marked the first time ever that the federal government was required to hold schools accountable for the way they were educating English learners, many of whom are Hispanic. This is the reason why NCLR supported this far from perfect legislation. It is long past time for Congress to update and help correct some of the flaws and the unintended consequences of NCLB.

This is a message Congress has received since the reauthorization of the bill is one of the few pieces of major legislation to be passed this year by both the House and Senate. This week we expect the House and the Senate to appoint conferees, the last step before the legislation is sent to the President.

NCLR has been working closely and on a bipartisan basis with Senator Patty Murray (D–Wash.) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R–Tenn.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D–Va.) and Rep. John Kline (R–Minn.) on the house side, to strengthen the provisions related to English learners in the bill and we are now working to make sure these provisions—which include requiring that English learners be included in a state’s accountability system and support for English learners so that they can achieve academic success—stay in the final version of the bill. It is our understanding that just this weekend an agreement on the framework for this has been reached. While we do not have the details, we hope to get more information in the coming days.

As the process moves forward, provisions must ensure that states are able to intervene if a school is found to be failing its Latino and English learner students. Without this provision in the final bill, it is unclear whether the ESEA can fulfill its promise to our students. In short, a strong ESEA that protects our nation’s most vulnerable students is vital to ensuring that states and school districts are living up to their obligation to provide a quality education to all on an equal basis, regardless of who they are or where they live. Giving all children the best education possible so that they can achieve and contribute as much as possible is something all Americans will benefit from and should get behind on.

We are monitoring the process closely and are working to ensure that a final bill reflects the priorities of the Latino community. Follow @NCLR for the latest updates.

For more information on NCLR’s education work, visit nclr.org/issues/education

How Education Reform Will Affect Latino Students

You’re invited!

bfk_john-king_picture_large

John B. King, Jr.

Join the Honorable John King, Delegated Deputy Secretary of Education, and our President and CEO, Janet Murguía, for a conference call on reforming the nation’s education system.

Congress is currently working to rewrite one of our signature civil rights laws, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. You might know it better by the name it was given the last time it was rewritten: “No Child Left Behind.” On the call you’ll hear what this rewrite means for English learners and Latino students.

Don’t miss it!

NOTE: This call is closed to the press. 

Date: November 16, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m. EST
RSVP: oraledu@nclr.org

Call-in Number: (877) 888-4314
Conference ID: NCLB
Program Title: Reviewing No Child Left Behind

Millions of American Families Still in Need of Immigration Relief

Southwest-Key_005Late last night, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans upheld an earlier ruling in Texas v. United States, temporarily blocking implementation of President Obama’s executive actions to provide deportation relief through an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and the creation of the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) program.

We are deeply disappointed by the decision, which ignores decades of legal precedent and leaves millions of American families in limbo.

“The record is clear—since the end of World War II, presidents of both parties have used discretionary powers on multiple occasions and for an extensively wide range of reasons to protect various groups from deportation,” said  NCLR President and CEO, Janet Murguía, in a statement. “This decision disregards both this precedent and the necessity and practicality of setting priorities when it comes to immigration enforcement,”

The Department of Justice expressed its disagreement with the appeals court and has indicated that it will ask the Supreme Court to review the Fifth Circuit’s decision.

US Supreme Court“Ultimately, we believe that a higher court will and should overturn this decision and history will show that President Obama’s actions prevented the separation of families, began to fix a badly broken immigration system, and enriched the economy” said Murguía.

In the statement, Murguía also noted the lengthy review period the Fifth Circuit took to hand down its decision.

“As many have noted, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the decision is not just incorrect but was delayed unnecessarily,” said Murguía. “We cannot permit those opposed to this measure to simply ‘run out the clock’ because we are confident that, when brought before the Supreme Court, the justices will agree that the president was well within his legal authority to provide relief for millions of families.”

Although implementation of these specific programs remains halted, eligible applicants may still participate in DACA. For more information on how to apply for DACA, please visit uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals.