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What Hispanics Want From Candidates

Below are the remarks of Raúl Yzaguirre, president of the National Council of La Raza, before delegates at the Democratic National Convention in Boston two weeks ago. To see the recent NCLR-Zogby ''Hispanic Perspectives poll,'' go to

August 7, 2004
Copyright © 2004 THE MIAMI HERALD. All rights reserved.

Buenas tardes, ladies and gentlemen. My name is Raúl Yzaguirre and I am president of the National Council of La Raza -- a nonpartisan civil-rights organization working with 300 local community-based organizations to improve opportunities for the nation's 43 million Hispanics.

A recent NCLR-Zogby poll commissioned by the National Council of La Raza confirmed that, despite our diversity, Latinos have a shared public policy agenda.

Like all Americans, we desire a government that stays off our backs, but stands by our side.

Equal opportunity

Hispanics believe in a fair government that guarantees equal opportunity for all by:

• Reducing discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare and education.

• Ending racial profiling.

• Making sure working families, and not just the wealthy, get a tax cut.

Latinos want a humane government that maintains our traditions as a nation of immigrants by:

• Passing the DREAM Act [Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, [S 1545] so that immigrant children can attend college.

• Enacting the AgJOBS bill [Agricultural Job Opportunity Benefits and Security Act, [S 1645 and HR 3142] to provide better wages and working conditions for farmworkers.

• Working hard toward comprehensive immigration reform, including an earned legalization program.

Hispanics need a compassionate government that helps people in difficult circumstances get back on their feet by:

• Providing job training to those who need it.

• Working toward a health-care system that works for everybody, and passing the Immigrant Children's Health Improvement Act [S 2685].

• Increasing support for homeownership programs and other asset-building strategies.

Latinos support a smart government that invests wisely in its young people today to ensure our country's economic prosperity tomorrow by:

• Making preschool universal, so that all kids start school ready to learn.

• Fully funding the No Child Left Behind Act, so that all students, rich or poor, get the same opportunities.

• Supporting community-based education programs, to prevent dropouts and help those who do fall through the cracks.

Above all, Hispanic Americans want to live in a society where people are judged by their actions, not by their accents.

Action, not just words

Unfortunately, our poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Hispanics do not believe that candidates are addressing the issues that concern them the most.

But be forewarned: We will not be inspired by message alone. A few phrases in Spanish won't work anymore.

Promises can be broken in Spanish as well as in English. Like other Americans, Latinos will vote on issues -- for candidates who deliver.

And, like other Americans, we will hold elected officials and all political parties accountable for actions, not just words.

Latinos believe in the American dream. And we are determined to make it real for all Americans.

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