Harnessing Political Power

Beyond his work to establish a flagship institution representing the Latino community, Yzaguirre changed the very way Latinos think of themselves, mobilizing them to engage in deeper levels of civic participation and harnessing their growing political power to bring about real change. He has mentored countless individuals who now hold positions of power and influence in government, academia, the nonprofit world, and corporate America.

Throughout his career, Yzaguirre has sought to help create a society and a government that promote educational opportunity; freedom from discrimination in employment, housing, health care, and the criminal justice system; a just and humane immigration policy; and economic mobility to ensure good jobs, fair credit, access to financial services, and business opportunities for Hispanics throughout the nation.

With institutional strength, growing “pan-Hispanic” unity, and Yzaguirre’s personal influence, NCLR has become a powerful political force in Washington and has played a key role in some of the most important legislation of the last two decades. Among his many accomplishments, Yzaguirre helped to expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for working families in the 1990s, create a partially refundable child tax credit for low-income workers in the 2001 Bush tax cuts, restore benefits for legal immigrants which were eliminated in the 1996 welfare reform law, extend federal civil rights laws, expand Hispanics’ access to federal early childhood, elementary, and secondary education programs, shape and push through an historic Executive Order on Hispanic Educational Excellence, and shape the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

More recently, in efforts to provide NCLR’s affiliates with more direct access to elected officials in Washington, DC, earlier this year NCLR held its first annual NCLR National Advocacy Day. The event convened affiliate members from 22 states who were briefed on the most important issues facing Latinos at the national level, including education, economic mobility, health, and immigration, and who met with members of Congress to educate them about the needs of the community and the ways in which the Latino agenda overlaps with the national American agenda.

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