On Thursday morning, Latino Rebels received the following statement from Brent A. Wilkes, Chief Executive Officer of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), in a response to a letter from LULAC President Roger C. Rocha Jr. to Donald Trump in support of the White House’s immigration framework, a letter that Rocha eventually retracted. Here is LULAC’s response, which was voted on by its National Executive Committee:
For Immediate Release
January 31, 2018
LULAC Opposes Trump Immigration Framework Calls upon Congress to Pass a Clean Dream Act
Washington, D.C. –The League of United Latin American Citizens has long supported the passage of a clean DREAM Act that would provide a pathway to citizenship for 1.8 million immigrants who were brought to this country as children by their parents and have graduated from high school.
The issue has taken on even more urgency with LULAC since the election of Donald Trump and his decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program by March 5, 2018.
Our position on the DREAM Act has been clear: we believe that passing the DREAM Act is the right thing to do for the DREAMers and in the best interest of the United States who will benefit from their talent and work ethic. This position has been adopted by the National Assembly of LULAC on multiple occasions and remains in force today.
We do not believe that the DREAM Act should be coupled with any additional border enforcement measures or the elimination of family visa categories, since the bill by itself represents the best of American values, and gives blameless young people the chance to succeed and contribute to our country. Not surprisingly, eighty-six percent of the American public agrees with us and supports the passage of the DREAM Act.
In addition, the LULAC National Assembly has adopted resolutions opposing Trump’s offensive wall along the US/Mexican border, opposing cuts to family-based immigration, opposing efforts to force state and local governments to enforce federal immigration laws, and opposing the increased detention of undocumented immigrants.
For this reason, LULAC is adamantly opposed to President Trump’s recently released immigration framework which calls for $25 billion in US taxpayers’ money for an ineffectual wall between the US and Mexico, increased detention of immigrants, elimination of 5 out of the 7 categories of family-based immigration visas, and elimination of the diversity lottery visa program for underrepresented countries, among other draconian anti-immigrant policies.
Further, we share the view of our members, coalition partners, and allies that President Trump’s hurtful, inaccurate, and inflammatory language toward immigrants and communities of color neither advances the interests of the country nor represents this nation’s values.
The President’s efforts to hold DREAMers hostage to these outrageous policies are reprehensible because he has manufactured the crisis himself by ending the DACA program when he could have kept it in place, and especially because he has already told these young Americans not to worry because he will “deal with them with great heart.”
LULAC has engaged in non-stop advocacy in support of a clean DREAM Act over the past year. LULAC has held more than 60 town halls on immigration nationwide. We have also conducted four advocacy weeks in Washington, most recently with 150 DREAMers the week of January 16-19, 2018, who delivered petitions and letters to all 535 Members of Congress. LULAC’s members and allies have kept in constant contact with our elected representatives both online and in person.
LULAC will continue to press for legislation to restore protections for DREAMers and provide a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants who work hard to contribute to our communities. We encourage Latino communities and the country at large to make their voices heard by engaging in our democracy through their exercise of free speech and their franchise to vote.
This statement was voted on and approved today by the LULAC National Executive Committee and represents the organization’s official position on the DREAM Act.
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the nation’s largest and oldest civil rights volunteer-based organization that empowers Hispanic Americans and builds strong Latino communities. Headquartered in Washington, DC, with 1,000 councils around the United States and Puerto Rico, LULAC’s programs, services and advocacy address the most important issues for Latinos, meeting critical needs of today and the future. For more information, visit www.LULAC.org.
In addition, Wilkes shared this personal statement about the Rocha letter:
It has been my great honor to be able to serve as an employee, Executive Director and now Chief Executive Officer for the League of United Latin American Citizens over the last 30 years. Over those years, I have worked with a dedicated group of board members, staff and members to grow and strengthen the organization’s advocacy on behalf of Latino civil rights, voting rights, immigration, education, health care, the environment and more.
It is for this reason that I am deeply saddened and shocked by the letter sent by our organization’s President, Roger Rocha, to President Trump on January 28. In that letter, Mr. Rocha, on LULAC letterhead and without consulting our staff nor board, endorsed the four pillars of President Trump’s immigration reform framework, in a clear contradiction to the policies voted on by our members at our 2017 National Convention.
My name is the second name that appears on that letterhead, underneath that of Mr. Rocha’s. For that reason, I want to state unequivocally that I reject Mr. Rocha’s endorsement of the President’s stance on immigration and can state with authority that his letter does not represent my personal views, nor those of many of the dozens of people with whom I have spoken.
As someone who has spent much of my career working to advance LULAC’s mission, vision and values serving the Latino community, it is deeply disturbing to me that without my consent, my name, along with those of many of my colleagues was included in what is referred to as the “proper trajectory” on immigration reform.
As for Mr. Rocha’s statement that “We at LULAC will continue to do our part in making your vision a reality,” I want to be very clear: the “we” that Mr. Rocha referred to does not include me personally, nor in my role as CEO of LULAC.
This is the letter that Rocha wrote but has now retracted:
Republicans started using Rocha’s as proof that Latinos were behind Trump’s framework. Local LULAC councils disagreed.
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