LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens is one of the oldest and largest Hispanic civil right organizations that exist in the nation. They condemned the threats that the Texas State representative, Matt Rinaldi issued against his colleagues. They called upon Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to step up as protests were happening. There were racist messages exchanged by his followers as well. Rinaldi started a shouting match in the Texas House of Representatives. He called upon the Latino lawmakers to get the SB4 protestors to be deported. The offensive taunt puts off several state representatives. Rinaldi even used terms like putting a bullet through the head of Poncho Nevarez. His followers issued racist statements as well. With such comments having been issued, it was time that LULAC stepped in and protested.

Roger C Rocha Jr., the national president of LULAC, stated that Rinaldi and the action of his colleagues were outrageous. They showcased the anti immigrant and race based rhetorics that are being used by many politicians these days. What is more troubling is that, the rhetorics are converted into law enforcement policies like SB4. With such policies in force the Texas authorities will be able to stop individuals simply based on skin color and ask for proof of citizenship to be displayed. The law will then encourage marginalization and also stereotype minority communities. Protesters gathered not only to side with the interests of the Latino community but also to show their disdain for SB4 in particular.

In the interests of Latino communities as well as to promote youth based programs across the state of California, LULAC has always been proactive. The organization even filed a lawsuit, first of the kin, against SB4 on May 8th. A small town by the borders of Mexico, El Cenizo, is known to be a safe haven since there has been an ordinance issued since 1999 to prevent city officials from inquiring into the immigration status of people here. The complaint was filed on their behalf on grounds that such a policy violates US constitution.

The above stance taken by LULAC showcases a strong support of a council to promote and protect the rights of Hispanic families and the youth. There have been recent forums held where concerns about immigration laws under the new presidential regime were also discussed. While federal grants might be affected by such policies, however, LULAC and other bodies working with local communities to ensure that they provide a safe environment for the individuals of different racial and ethnic communities, especially the Hispanic community. With changing political agendas that can adversely affect the wellbeing of these communities, having an umbrella organization to look after them is vital in different states.

backpack-bonanza-2015-5-jpgWould you believe that there are over 1.2 million school aged children and youth that are homeless in the United States? The number of children who are homeless seems to be skyrocketing all over the nation. It is important for our communities to come together to help these students have an academic year that is successful.

One way the community can help is through the volunteer program called Operation Backpack.  This program helps the children of homeless families prepare for the school year by giving them the supplies they need for school in order to help them achieve success in their education. The volunteers at Operation Backpack put together new backpacks with school supplies that are donated for kids from elementary to high school. This program finds churches, institutions, businesses (like your local roofers), offices, and schools that are able to provide the backpacks and supplies, or collect donations, for those in need. When these places host a drive, it allows more individuals that chance to be a part of the community effort.

Those who participate in the drive can place a box in view of the public where items can be dropped off, raise money through different projects for the operation, or put together backpacks themselves with items needed. It is always best to advertise the backpack drive on public spaces such as Facebook, Google+, or other spaces. This is a great way to get a lot of involvement from family, friends, and the community, all working towards one cause, helping the less fortunate.

One of the parts of the LULAC mission is to help the Hispanic population in the advancement of education. There are a lot of ways to do this. Addressing the issues in the system of education with policies is important, but the need for efforts by the community can help with a lot of the local level disparities seen. Operation Backpack is one of the many programs in the United States that can help kids that are homeless and make a difference in the outcome of a student’s education, whether they are in elementary or high school. This issue is something that is dealt with by over a million families and children around the nation, so I strongly encourage helping children throughout the community by providing them with the tools that are necessary to ensure they have educational success now and in the future.

 

 

For the majority of my life, I have been wondering about my roots and family heritage. I had been moved around ten times by the time I was ten years old, making me feel a disconnect with my culture and a complete lack of stability. I entered the foster care system at the age of ten because my father was deported, There were a lot of challenges that I faced as a Mexican-American foster child. I was not sure of my heritage and grew up in a very mixed environment of Caucasians, African Americans, and Hispanics.  I had a hard time fitting into any of the groups and could not fully identify with any one culture since I didn’t grow up with a family that was defined.

412manuel-master675It was confusing for me to move from one home to another. I constantly struggled with trying to figure out each family’s way of life. I was left with only vague memories from my own culture because of being in foster care for so long. I had a few memories from my parents, but those faded over my years in the foster care system.

Eighty-five percent of the students I graduated high school with were Caucasian. Because of that, I did not have a lot of opportunities to interact with other Latinos while in foster care. This made it a lot more difficult to express myself as a Latino since my fellow peers expected me to act “American” rather than Latino. I struggled with trying to figure out if I was fully American of fully Mexican. I constantly felt like I was caught in a current that I didn’t have the ability to swim against.

It is difficult, at times, to have to deal with the fact that people think I know Spanish because of how I look, or that I must have a big family since that is how society perceives Latinos in a stereotypical way. Because of my environment and the stereotypes,  I had a very hard time discovering my Latino identity. It seemed others were the ones defining my identity and roots because those roots were removed from me. I didn’t have many opportunities to explore myself as a Latino. I never saw my father again after he was deported to Mexico, so I felt that my Mexican heritage connection was lost forever.

LULAC has helped me to make some connections that I need to get back to my roots. I can’t thank them enough for being a part of my life and helping me to find myself as a Latino.

In order to understand how your job, bank account, and community are affected by the global economy, it is important to understand the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, since it is a free trade pact that is one of the most comprehensive of the 21st century.

e8txgucIt is unfortunate, though, that we don’t have a lot of information to go on. There are only a few people that can see the entire agreement, and under tight security.  Those people include the representatives of some American companies, the Trade Ambassador, the President, and the members of Congress. All of those people are forbidden from publicly speaking about the specifics of the TPP too. The brief outline given on the TPP states that, if passed by the countries that are part of it, it would reduce taxes on exports and imports and it would mandate universal trade standards.

In 2011 was the most recent action on these types of agreements by LULAC. This action was in opposition of some trade agreements, through a resolution passed by our members, between the United States and Panama, Colombia, and South Korea. Instead of these agreements, we advocated for a new trade policy in the US that creates sustainable jobs for those in the United States and the other countries that are trade partners, along with living wages, while also promoting access to services that are essential, a healthy environment, labor standards, human rights, and democracy.

Free trade deals are seen by businesses as a way to lower their costs all the way down their supply chain. Unfortunately, though, rapid economic changes come with human costs that affect some groups of people more than it does others. Despite all of the other issues with TPP, our opposition is due to this basic fact.

In the eyes of labor advocates, these free trade agreements are a way for large corporations to skip taxes, fire workers, and skirt the laws. The environmentalists fear that it doesn’t discourage issues like poaching, logging, and over fishing. All of these groups, though, understand that any trade agreement will affect the livelihoods of people.

For any nation to thrive, trade is important. In fact, it is so important, that the nation of North Korea is the only nation that has claimed to be fully self sufficient. This is, no doubt, a model that is extreme and not sustainable for growth. LULAC, being an action organization, has the belief that the best system of trade is one that is equitable, deliberate, and clear. We back the scrutiny by the public of not only the TPP, but the trade policy of the United States itself for the benefit of people from all backgrounds.

LULAC not only works with civic and religious groups, but also works alongside the Unite for Marriage Coalition. The UMC is an organization that works with a strong contingency of Latinos, including the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the Latino GLBT History Project, and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement for their LGBT flagship organizations such as The National LGBTQ Task Force ant the Human Rights Campaign. There is usually a pretty strong presence of Latino’s at the rallies, especially those Latino supporters that are part of LULAC.

pride-centerjpgOn both the national and local level, LULAC has been advocating on the forefront for LGBT rights. LULAC National, since 2008, has been issuing resolutions that are member approved that support the repealing of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, supports legislation against hate crimes, and endorses an Employee Non-Discrimination Act that is fully inclusive. When LULAC shows up at the rallies in strong numbers, it is another example of the support they have that is unwavering towards inclusive policies for every Latino. Because of this, support has been given for five new LULAC LBGT councils throughout the United States.

Since Latino families do not fall into one category of fit a specific mold, it is a natural step to support marriage equality through LULAC. The Latino families are diverse and often include aunts, uncles, cousins, sons, and daughters that identify themselves as LGBT. When they want to get married to the one they love, discrimination is not something our family members should have to face. It is a great thing for LULAC to support and embrace their members that are LGBT and make a commitment to ensure that they receive the protections and civil rights that everyone else does.

Despite the labels that are used towards us by others to divide us, through this lens, we will get closer and closer to achieving the mission of LULAC by advancing the housing, political influence, educational attainment, economic condition, civil rights, and health of all Latinos, regardless of their affiliations.

 

female_graduateAs we seek to help Latino students enter the job force with jobs that are higher paying, it is imperative that the options for higher education after high school within the different career options are presented to the students in their early high school days. Students can explore their options through the help of the high school’s academic counseling so they have a road map to follow when they graduate. The Senate Bill #451 in California was an attempt to take the position of the school counselor and expand it, having them to put more focus on vocational and career counseling in addition to academic counseling. There was, however, not enough resources that were adequate to help them to make this change that was needed. Because of the ways that the public schools receive their funding, the opportunities presented to each school was not the same.  It could potentially be a very positive resource to the students, though, if the funding was the same across the board.

Public school funding varies based on the location of the school. The higher income communities tend to receive more funding in comparison to the lower income communities due to the public funds sources. Public schools in the United States receive their funding from local, state, and federal sources. Local property taxes provides around half of the funds, though, making the different communities have discrepancies. Opportunities for students receiving these resources that are beneficial decrease as the funding decreases.

The discrepancies in public school funding creates limits on the school resources that can be provided which affects the students attending the low income schools greatly. For the low income communities, the counseling is even more important to provide the students options for them to follow once they graduate. Fortunately, there are some programs that have been put in place by stakeholders in the communities that can help the students to learn about the opportunities of higher education and help them to become leaders in the community.

A quick online search will bring up a few of these programs that are available.