State of the Union: The Change We Expect

Last night, the National of Council of La Raza (NCLR) watched with the rest of the country as President Obama delivered his first State of the Union address.  Over the last year, the downward spiral of the economy has left people across the United States demoralized and in need of support from our nation’s leaders.

In front of both chambers of Congress, President Obama delivered an encouraging message to the American people.  He made it clear that in order for the U.S. to continue to thrive, we must rebuild our economy through job creation.  Last night’s speech was a positive first step toward revitalizing the spirit of the nation, but we must urge President Obama to take bold leadership and steer his words into action.

Send President Obama and your member of Congress a letter telling them we need to see outcomes this year.

Last night, the president said he will not quit fighting for his priorities, and neither will we.  Although he acknowledged that we must continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system, our community needs to see true action and leadership from both the administration and Congress on this issue, not just more rhetoric and promises.  It is time for a practical solution, through immigration reform, that will restore the rule of law, provide a path to earned citizenship, reunify families, and take a step toward fixing our economy. 

There may have been a tiny shift in Congress, but the large need for health care reform remains.  President Obama recommitted to passing health care reform legislation last night, and we must continue to work to ensure that Latino priorities are reflected in it.  Americans spend too much time worrying about how to pay for doctor visits or choosing between basic needs and insurance. The cost of inaction is too great.

President Obama indicated his commitment to education, citing investments made in the recovery package, including Race to the Top.  However, we need more than funding; we need reform.  Immediate reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is critical to ensuring Latino student success.  In particular, NCLR wants to see schools held accountable for the educational achievement of all students.

An estimated 1.3 million Latino families will lose their homes to foreclosure between 2009 and 2012.  This represents a shocking loss of wealth and a major blow to community stability.  We still have time to prevent these statistics from becoming a reality.  To do so, Americans need three things:  a way to save their home even if they’re out of work, opportunities for creditworthy families to buy a home, and additional accountability measures to ensure that we never face this kind of crisis again.

Employment and Economic Policy
The President made clear that jobs and economic recovery are his top priorities.  Latinos are encouraged by the steps he laid out to incentivize job creation, but we need to see action that targets the hardest-hit communities with new employment opportunities.

We urge you to send this letter to President Obama and your members of Congress and tell them you expect action and change this year.