February 28, 2017
WASHINGTON, DC—In response to President Trump’s address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress this evening, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) expressed continued deep concern over President Trump’s pursuit of policies that undermine the significant progress made by Latinos and other diverse communities across the United States. Devastating program cuts, the refugee travel ban, and inhumane executive orders on immigration have a real impact: the erosion of the civil rights of a significant number of our citizens, the separation of families, and the gutting of important education, housing and health initiatives that will affect millions.
“President Trump’s moderated tone and soft overtures to bipartisanship do not make the policies he has implemented and defended mightily in this speech any less harsh,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía. “The policies are still the policies he has been touting since the beginning of the campaign, and his justifications are still as hyperbolic and fictional as they’ve ever been.”
“President Trump has said ‘help is on the way,’ but his definition of help still seems predicated on stripping away health coverage for millions, gutting our nation’s public school funding and weakening measures to ensure each student succeeds, and defaming and persecuting hardworking immigrants who are contributing to society. And while he was keen to hit on many buzzwords, including job creation, the ‘how’ was sorely missing. That is not the kind of ‘help’ our country needs if the goal is to have everyone in America succeed,” Murguía continued.
“Real help would be ensuring that our civil rights are protected, our contributions acknowledged. Help is continuing the progress and social programs that have helped make our educational system more equitable, health care affordable and accessible, and the dream of owning a business or a home attainable, not pulling the rug out from under people,” Murguía added.
“NCLR will continue to work closely with its Affiliate Network across the United States, and with civil rights organizations and community partners to protect and defend the progress we’ve made, and those policies and initiatives that have helped build a more equitable America. We will be relentless in that mission and we will hold our elected leadership accountable equally for their actions or inaction in the face of attacks to our community. Real American progress is when we all succeed, not when the success of some comes at the expense of our country’s most vulnerable,” Murguía concluded.
NCLR Institutional Positions on Issue Areas Addressed in This Evening’s Speech
Immigration and Civil Rights
- President Trump’s executive orders regarding immigrants and refugees are inhumane. They’re an assault on civil rights and harm Americans. They threaten our standing in the world.
- It’s un-American to turn our backs on people fleeing persecution and violence.
- Immigration enforcement has become indiscriminate, shifting from an approach that prioritizes gang members and other violent criminals to one that terrorizes millions of people—both citizens and noncitizens—and tears families apart.
- Reforming our immigration system would boost the U.S. economy. If all eligible legal permanent residents became citizens, they could add as much as $2 billion more in tax revenue every year. The bipartisan immigration bill that passed the Senate in 2014 would have reduced the deficit by $197 billion by 2023.
- Policies that target hardworking immigrants destabilize both individual families and the nation’s economy, adding unnecessary costs to the federal budget and harming states financially.
- Immigrants make enormous contributions to our economy. The average immigrant-owned business has 11 employees, and immigrants help sustain the Social Security Trust Fund, contributing as much as $300 billion over the years.
- Undocumented immigrants pay an average of more than $11 billion in state and local taxes a year. All immigrants—regardless of status—will contribute about $80,000 more in taxes than the cost of the government services they use over their lifetime.
- President Trump can’t keep accusing immigrants of being the source of our nation’s problems. He needs to recognize the research proving immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than native-born Americans. Counties that limit working with immigration enforcement and uphold the Fourth Amendment have lower crime rates than counties without sanctuary policies.
- All Americans should have the opportunity to lead healthy lives and having quality, affordable health coverage is critical to achieving this goal. We must protect and defend against threats to undermine this.
- As a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), millions of Americans, including more than four million Latinos, have gained health coverage. The rate of uninsured Latinos is at an all-time low.
- A repeal of the ACA without a replacement plan that offers at least the same, or a higher, level of health coverage would be devastating to millions of working families.
- When it comes to our nation’s children, we must protect them from harm. Latino children’s coverage rates improved to a historic high of 92.5 percent in the second year after the ACA’s coverage provisions took effect. The number of uninsured Latino children declined from two million in 2013 to 1.4 million in 2015. In this same period, the rate of uninsured Latino children dropped from 11.5 percent to 7.5 percent.
- This administration must preserve the current structure of Medicaid. Any changes to the program’s infrastructure would result in drastic funding cuts, violating a central campaign promise, while jeopardizing the health coverage of 74 million vulnerable Americans such as children and those with disabilities, including 18 million Latinos.
- President Trump must urge Congress to maintain current funding levels for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Throughout its 20-year history, CHIP has maintained strong bipartisan support and has served as an essential source of health coverage for millions of children.
- All Americans need access to jobs created to update the country’s aging highways, bridges and other parts of our infrastructure. It’s important to fill these jobs by hiring within the communities most in need of economic development and those that help to diversify the workforce.
- Our tax system is especially burdensome for people with low-paying jobs. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit would help 7.5 million people—including about 1.7 million Latinos—who are currently taxed into poverty.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) must be allowed to continue protecting consumers and ensuring all Americans can build credit, manage their finances, and work toward financial stability. It’s crucial that the CFPB can continue its efforts to improve access to banking and other ways to manage finances.
- Too many Americans struggle to save for retirement, so Social Security needs to remain a strong program that benefits all seniors. It’s a crucial aspect of financial support that rewards decades of work and helps keep seniors out of poverty.
- President Trump can keep his promise to help working families by focusing on housing in infrastructure plans, protecting anti-homelessness programs, and continuing to fund housing counseling programs that help low-income families purchase a home or stay in their current homes.
- It’s critical to continue full funding of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, allowing it to enforce fair housing laws and ensuring equal access to housing for minorities.
- The Federal Housing Administration should expand access to homeownership for creditworthy low-income borrowers. Reducing the mortgage insurance premium rates of FHA loans could make these loans more affordable and homeownership more accessible for low-income communities of color.
- The administration should promote homeownership through increased access for nonprofits to purchase properties as part of the Distressed Asset Stabilization Program, which helps prevent foreclosures and keeps people in their homes.
- The Trump administration must commit to educational equity and hold schools responsible for ensuring every kid receives a quality education.
- The Trump administration should develop policies to enhance access to high-quality early childhood education programs for all children.
- Investments in school choice should prioritize guaranteeing high-quality schools for all kids, including those who choose to continue attending traditional public schools.
- The bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act should be implemented in accordance with the regulations that ensure schools provide all kids, including Latinos and the five million English language learners in the country, with the tools and knowledge they need to excel.
- Currently, 76 percent of Hispanic students earn a high school degree in four years. We need to boost that rate, moving more young Latinos toward being college- and career- ready.
- College and career technical education should be affordable and accessible so that a lack of wealth does not keep Latinos and other low-income students from pursuing higher education.
- The Department of Education must continue to ensure that policies protecting students’ constitutional rights to equal protection under the law are meaningful, and that schools provide equal support and attention to every child, giving them all the opportunity to achieve their dreams.
NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to build a stronger America by creating opportunities for Latinos. For more information on NCLR, please visit www.nclr.org or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.