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LULAC Issues Challenge To Politicians
Politicians To Face The LULAC 'Challenge': Candidates' Stance On Issues Focus Of Plan
By LORI RODRIGUEZ
June 26, 2002
Leaders of the League of United Latin American Citizens meeting in Houston announced a systematic plan to find out where major political candidates stand on issues critical to their fast-growing but socially lagging community.
What leaders call "The LULAC Challenge" lists the 10 issues Hispanics consistently have identified as their most important. Topped by education concerns and ranging from political access to immigrant rights, the list also includes specific questions LULAC leaders want candidates to directly answer.
"We're going to send every single politician in the country who's running for statewide or national office a copy of this document and ask them to respond," said LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes.
Politicians who don't respond will be targeted through LULAC's 700 chapters and members across the country, he said. Politicians who do will be graded according to how closely they agree with LULAC positions.
The aggressive electoral strategy was announced at the weeklong convention.
The new political policy was accompanied by a compilation of social, economic and political indicators that show Hispanics still are a struggling community. Many are poor, underpaid and undereducated; 39 percent of Latino children live in families with incomes below the poverty line.
Hispanics in the 2000 Census made up 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, but they account for 20 percent of new HIV infections and 26 percent of Americans with no health insurance.
"The Latino community continues to face serious and ongoing challenges," said Gabriela Lemus, the LULAC national director of policy and legislation who compiled the policy brief.
"We need more than just Spanish-speaking candidates," she said. "We need policies that work for us."
List of Hispanic concerns released at LULAC convention
June 26, 2002
The top 10 concerns for the Hispanic community, according to a list released Tuesday at the League of United Latin American Citizens national convention here:
2. Civil rights and justice
3. Political access
4. Economic power
5. Immigrant rights
9. Learning English
10. Women's issues
LULAC leaders also cited a raft of disturbing statistics. Among them:
· The high school dropout rate for Latino children is estimated by the U.S. Department of Education to be about 33.5 percent .
· In 1998, only 56 percent of eligible Hispanics registered to vote, and of those, just 39 percent went to the polls, according to the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.
· Workplace fatalities among Hispanics rose by 53 percent between 1992 and 2000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. At least 815 Hispanics died on the job in 2000.
· Since 1994, Hispanic homeownership has lagged whites by 29 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Black homeownership lagged whites by 27.5 percent during the same period.
· Hispanics, 12.5 percent of the U.S. population, account for 20 percent of new HIV infections and 17 percent of AIDS-related deaths, according to a recent Institute of Medicine report to Congress.
· Between 1990 and 1996, Hispanic women saw their median real wage decline by 3 percent, from $330 to $320 per week, according to the National Council of La Raza. In 1996, they earned 72 percent as much as white women and 89 percent as much as black women.