March 14 2011



Joseph Rendeiro
(202) 776-1566

NCLR looks to congressional leaders to set national tone

WASHINGTON, DC—Recent U.S. Census numbers show that the Latino community in the United States is growing and becoming an ever stronger force politically and economically throughout the country. However, many still blame Hispanics for several of the country’s woes, targeting them with vicious and inaccurate attacks. To combat these injustices, NCLR (National Council of La Raza) is asking all members of Congress to pledge to respect the Latino community.

With the help of Grammy Award–winning band Ozomatli, NCLR recently launched the Pledge for Respect campaign. In a new public service announcement released by NCLR, members of the group encourage viewers to contact their representatives and tell them to stop dehumanizing the Latino community.

“There is right and there is wrong, and the terrible things that some of the leaders of our country are saying about Latinos are without a doubt wrong,” said Ozomatli band member Wil-Dog Abers. “We’re standing with the Latino community as we always have, and we’re encouraging our country to stand up and face these voices of intolerance.”

The campaign kicked off on Thursday, March 10, 2011, as hundreds of Hispanic leaders from the NCLR Affiliate Network visited their senators and representatives on Capitol Hill and asked them to sign the Pledge for Respect.

Representatives who have already signed the pledge include:

Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (D–IL), signed March 1, 2011
Joe Baca (D–CA), signed March 1, 2011
Charles A. Gonzalez (D–TX), signed March 2, 2011
Ben Ray Lujan (D–NM), signed March 10, 2011
Judy Chu (D–CA), signed March 10, 2011
Bob Filner (D–CA), signed March 10, 2011
Chaka Fattah (D–PA), signed March 10, 2011

By signing the pledge, members of Congress commit to ending the use of irresponsible and inflammatory rhetoric against Latinos and to focusing the national discourse on a more respectful debate about issues that truly matter to all Americans.

“Politicians need to set the example for all Americans on this issue,” said NCLR President and CEO Janet Murguía. “Demonizing Latinos does nothing to fix the problems with our economy and immigration system. Members of Congress need to give Latinos the respect that they deserve and work hand-in-hand with us to find real solutions to improve America.”

She added that “while NCLR does not expect every member of Congress to agree with our positions on issues such as immigration reform, we do believe that every senator and congressperson can commit to using civil language that shows consideration for the Hispanic community.”

The campaign will run until May, when NCLR will publish a list of those in Congress who have signed the pledge, indicating who stands with the Latino community on this issue.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved and send a message to Congress saying that America will not tolerate disrespect toward Latinos or any other community. Participants can visit the NCLR website or text RESPECT to 62571 to find out how to contact their representatives.

NCLR hopes that with the participation of as many members of Congress as possible, we can end the use of hateful speech against Latinos and work toward the common goal of finding the solutions that will better America.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans. For more information on NCLR, please visit, or follow us on Twitter | MySpaceFacebook.