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LULAC Opposes Nomination of Linda Chavez as Labor Secretary

Nominee’s Views Clash with Hispanic Leadership and Bush Positions


National Office
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© League of United Latin American Citizens.

For Immediate Release
January 8, 2001            

Contact: Scott Gunderson Rosa
(202) 833-6130

Washington, D.C.
-- The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) today announced their opposition to President-elect George W. Bush’s nomination of Linda Chavez as Secretary of Labor.  Chavez’s record includes seeking the elimination of affirmative action, job-training programs and bilingual education, and pushing for English as the nation’s official language.

"While we like to support our fellow Latinos, Linda Chavez’s views run contrary to the interests of the Latino community," said Rick Dovalina, LULAC National President.  "We appreciate President-elect Bush putting together a diverse Cabinet, however Chavez has made a career out of advocating positions in direct opposition to the consensus positions of Hispanic leaders nationwide."

Chavez is currently president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group whose mission is to eliminate affirmative action and bilingual education, and make English the official language of the United States.  She is a self-described "minority among minorities," and likens herself to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

Dovalina added, "Chavez stands against everything the Latino community has fought for in this country.  President-elect Bush, who has built a reputation for working with the Latino community, has appointed someone who is even out of touch with his own views on Latino issues.  She has a history of opposing the Latino community’s leaders, while at the same time, using her Latina status and surname as a so-called voice for the community.  This is a slap in the face to Hispanics."

The labor secretary will have a tremendous amount of influence over issues such as affirmative action, the minimum wage, and job training programs.  On all three issues, and several others important to Hispanics,  Chavez’s views do not mirror those of the president-elect.

On affirmative action, Bush says, "[I support] policies that give people a helping hand so they can help themselves. For example, in our State of Texas I worked with the legislature, both Republicans and Democrats, to pass a law that said if you come in the top 10% of your high school class, you're automatically admitted to one of our higher institutions of learning, college. And as a result, our universities are now more diverse. It was a smart thing to do. What I called it, I labeled it affirmative access."  (Third Presidential Debate, October 17, 2000)

Chavez has said, "Affirmative action creates problems with standards and increases racial friction.  And it’s simply not just," (USA Today, 1995) and, "It is time to end government-mandated affirmative action, not try to mend it." ("Is Affirmative Action on the Way Out? Should It Be? A Symposium", Linda Chavez, March 1998)

Bush has expressed support for the minimum wage, saying "I support the minimum wage as long as states are given flexibility not to price entry-level workers out of the market." ("Responses of Governor George W. Bush to MALDEF’s Policy Issues for the Presidential Candidates in the 2000 Presidential Campaign", p.13, October 2000)

In her book, Out of the Barrio, Chavez says, "[T]he policy prescriptions offered by many Hispanic advocacy organizations and by most politicians seem oddly out of sync.  They rely too much on government programs of doubtful efficacy.  For example, a report by the National Council of La Raza calls for raising the minimum wage to improve the economic status of Hispanics, despite most economists’ view that increases in the minimum wage actually decrease job opportunities for low-wage workers, especially the young." (p.118-119, 1991)

Bush supported job-training programs in Texas, saying, "[T]rusting frontline officials who know local needs and priorities best, and teaming with the private sector whenever possible, [such as] business, faith-based, education, and other groups, yields strong results for employers and job-seekers."  (MALDEF, p. 13, October 2000)

Chavez says, "[T]he Job Training and Partnership Act, like its predecessor — the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) — has done little to solve the problem of the poor, long-term unemployed." (Out of the Barrio, p.118-119, October 2000) 

On bilingual education, Bush has said, "If a good bilingual program effectively teaches children to read and comprehend English as quickly as possible, I say great."  (MALDEF, p.5, October 2000)

Linda Chavez has said, "Many bilingual education programs, in fact, violate the civil rights of Hispanic students," and "The two federal agencies responsible for language-minority students must be ordered to stop promoting an unproved and discriminatory program like bilingual education."  (Testimony of Linda Chavez before the United States Congress)

On English Only, Bush is quoted, "Many times, English-Only programs send a signal that says ‘me, not you; me, without taking into account others.’  I support a concept I call English-Plus."

(MALDEF, p.5, October 2000)  As president of U.S. English, Chavez’s main objective was to establish English as the official language of the country, effectively eliminating all other languages for government, including voting ballots.

LULAC urges President-elect Bush to withdraw Chavez’s nomination as labor secretary and will be contacting members of the Senate to oppose the nomination.

 The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the oldest and largest Latino civil rights organization in the United States.  LULAC advances the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health, and civil rights of Hispanic Americans through community-based programs operating at more than 700 LULAC councils nationwide.

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