The Latino Action Network is a grassroots organization composed of individuals and organizations that are committed to engaging in collective action at the local, state and national levels in order to advance the equitable inclusion of the diverse Latino communities in all aspects of United States society.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Community Forum on Marijuana Legalization

Community Forum on Marijuana Legalization

When: Thursday, February 22nd (7:00 pm – 8:30 pm)
Where: Bethany Baptist Church, 275 West Market Street, Newark

For decades, marijuana policies have devastated hundreds of thousands of our state’s families and communities. In 2013 alone, more than 24,000 marijuana possession arrests were made by law enforcement, making criminals out of otherwise law-abiding people and imposing a lifetime of punishment on those who are convicted. Marijuana laws have also been used to support biased policies like stop and frisk, racial profiling and the deportation of people of color. It’s time to right these wrongs.
Marijuana legalization is on the upcoming legislative agenda in New Jersey. At this point, it is not a question of whether marijuana will be legalized, but a question of when and more importantly, how. Until recently, marijuana legalization laws have inadequately addressed the lasting impacts of decades of harsh marijuana prohibition and punishment, but New Jersey must do better.
In order to ensure that marijuana legalization legislation in New Jersey is truly fair and equitable, legislation must be grounded in racial and social justice. Please join us on Thursday, February 22nd (snow date: 3/1) to learn more about the moral case for marijuana legalization in New Jersey and how to ensure that legalization legislation provides a level playing field and addresses past harms to the communities most impacted by marijuana prohibition.
This conversation, sponsored by the Lecture Committee of Bethany Baptist Church and the Drug Policy Alliance, will take place at Bethany Baptist Church, 275 West Market Street in Newark from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm. For more details, please see the flyer below. The event is free, but space is limited, so please register now. Please help us spread the word about this important event by forwarding this email and sharing on Twitter. We look forward to seeing you there!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Latino Action Congratulates Assemblywoman Caride on Cabinet Appointment - Urges Appointment of Latino to Fill Vacant Assembly Seat

Assemblywoman Marlene Caride (LD 36) selected by Governor-Elect Murphy to serve as Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance.

 The Latino Action Network [LAN] today endorsed the appointment of Assemblywoman Marlene Caride [D-36th District] as the new Commissioner of the NJ Department of Banking and Insurance. The appointment marks the first major Latino appointment by Governor-Elect Phil Murphy.

“We consider this an important first step by the Governor-Elect to select a diverse cabinet and administration reflecting the demographics of New Jersey.  Assemblywoman Caride is an incredible role model and this is a proud day for the New Jersey Latino community,” said Christian Estevez, LAN President. “We expect the incoming governor to fulfill his promises to a community that strongly supported him and which makes up about 20 percent of the state’s population.”

The appointment of Caride leaves a vacancy in the State Assembly in a district with a large Latino population including the City of Passaic. During the 2011 redistricting process the LAN worked to insure that a Latino was selected in that district because of the relatively light representation of Latinos in the State Legislature.

There are currently only 3 Latino State Senators out of 40 and 7 Assembly members out of 80.

“We expect the legislative leadership in the district, and specifically Senator Paul Sarlo, to work with LAN to insure Latino representation in the 36th District,” Estevez concluded. Latinos make up 35 percent of the population of the 36th District.

The Latino Action Network was founded in 2009 to fight for political empowerment and defend civil rights.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Driver's Licenses for All Strategy Meeting - Reunión de estrategia de Licensias de Conducir para Todos: Region - Norte de NJ

Make the Road New Jersey, the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice and Wind of the Spirit invite community members to learn more about the push for licenses for all NJ residents. Please join them to discuss how this policy can benefit you and your family, and how you can be a part of the campaign to change the policy in NJ and win driver's licenses for all! We have the power to make change and drive without fear in NJ, let's win in 2018!

Please email: if you require translation in languages other than English & Spanish.


Informese sobre la campaña para proveer licensias de conducir a todas las personas que viven en NJ, sin excepciones:

- ¡Únase a nuestro taller para aprender cómo esta política puede beneficiarle a usted, a su familia y su comunidad, y cómo usted puede ser parte de la campaña para cambiar la política en NJ para obtener licencias de conducir para todos!

- ¡Tenemos el poder de hacer cambios y conducir sin miedo en Nueva Jersey, vamos a ganar licencias de conducir para todos!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Latino Action Network Congratulates Governor Elect Phil Murphy

The Latino Action Network congratulates Phil Murphy on his impressive win over Kim Guadagno in yesterday’s Gubernatorial Election.  We endorsed Ambassador Murphy because of his progressive platform and dedication to the same issues that LAN members fight for every day. Phil Murphy proved his dedication to our issues when he refused to retreat from his promise to have the backs of immigrant working families despite Kim Guadagno’s persistent attacks.

New Jersey voters had a clear choice in this election: they could vote for Kim Guadagno and a continuation of Chris Christie’s disastrous administration with some Trump-style attacks thrown in or they could vote for Phil Murphy and progressive change that is inclusive of New Jersey’s diverse communities.

Yesterday voters rejected the Trumpism adopted by the flailing Guadagno campaign by electing Phil Murphy to be New Jersey’s next governor by a whopping 14% margin.

Congratulations also go out to all the Latino Action Network members and supporters who fought the good fight against the hateful messages that were being thrown in our direction by Kim Guadagno and her campaign.  With your help we were able to go on the offensive against Kim Guadagno’s hateful and divisive attacks against our community.  We turned the table on her by raising our voices and expressing our disgust at her sharp turn to the right and making her anti-immigrant ad a liability to her campaign.  Your greatest contribution to this victory was your vote and the work you all did to get your friends and families to the polls.

At any point in this fight, our endorsed candidate could have done what many expected him to do and distance himself from the issue of protecting immigrants, but Phil Murphy did the opposite.  He doubled down on his commitment to having our backs.

The Latino Action Network looks forward to working with the Governor-Elect in the months and years to come as we take bold action together to make sure that Latino working families are afforded the opportunity to partake in the promise of this great state.  Now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get to work on achieving the goals of our legislative agenda including the desegregation of our communities and schools; making college accessible and affordable for all; raising wages and restoring the social safety net provided by our Latino social service agencies.

Click HERE to join the Latino Action Network email list and receive our Weekly Updates and Action Alerts. 

The Struggle Continues…. 


Christian Estevez, President
Latino Action Network

Friday, October 20, 2017

Train The Trainer: Know Your Rights With Immigration

Please join the New Jersey Alliance for Immigrant Justice, CASA Freehold and the Freehold Regional Education Association for a free training for activists interested in helping community members understand their rights when interacting with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and local police. 

See flyer below for more information:

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Is New Jersey Racist?

[The article below features the executive director of the Anti-Poverty Network (APN), Renee Koubiadis, who we are proud to have as a member of the Steering Committee of the Latino Action Network. Please take a moment to read the article and the related report issued by the APN "The Unconfortable Truth: Racism, Injustice and Poverty", which will serve as a guiding document in the policy discussions we must have in our state in the months and years to come if we are to close the gaps that divide the people of New Jersey.  Pa'lante! - Christian Estevez, President, Latino Action Network]

The Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey recently released “The Uncomfortable Truth: Racism, Injustice and Poverty,” a report that details the effects of structural racism that has long tainted many of our public institutions, and offers a wide range of recommendations on how to combat those effects. What the report makes clear is that the threads of structural racism extend to virtually all aspects of our lives, and untangling those threads will be a long and complex process. We asked the executive director of the Anti-Poverty Network, Renee Koubiadis, to explain more about the findings in the report and her organization’s goals with its release.

The Uncomfortable Truth report focuses on what is referred to as “structural racism.” What does that mean, exactly?

Renee Koubiadis

File photo

Structural racism refers to disparate access to opportunity that is imbedded in the social structures. It is not a direct expression of overt discrimination or prejudice; but it is the residue of the more direct, open racist policies of the past.

What’s to blame for this type of pervasive racism that affects so many of our institutions? Are we talking about actively racist policies, or a kind of underlying racist instinct that impacts our lives in ways difficult to see and identify?

Structural racism is the result of historical conscious and unintentional policies, decisions and programs that have become deeply embedded in today’s culture and institutions. It operates as a perpetuating force and serves as a resistance to change in the historic distribution of wealth. Structural racism can be seen in the results it produces with deep inequities for people of color.

We tend to equate racism with offensive stereotyping and abusive treatment. But is it fair to say that many of us — or most of us — are affected by a more benign racism that maybe causes us to, for example, accept certain stereotypes without condemning them? Perhaps that kind of racism isn’t as harmless as we might like to think?

Systemic racism can operate whether or not the individuals involved hold explicit or subliminal racist attitudes. In its most common form, it is simply the perpetuation of a “status quo” that was shaped by the virulent, overt, intentional racism of the past. It can operate through apparently race-blind policies and purportedly merit-based systems of consequence and reward. It can be worsened by personal prejudice, certainly, but it does not require conscious prejudice. It requires only complacency with a system that produces racist results, as demonstrated by racial and ethnic disparities that have economic and social consequences. As recognized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his leadership to address structural as well as explicit racism, “He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”

So if we’re focusing on a broad cultural racism as opposed to individual biases, how does that affect people of color in practice? Are we talking about impacts in every facet of their lives, or do they tend to manifest themselves in specific areas?

The report covers in detail the way that structural racism impacts people of color in housing, access to economic opportunity, the criminal justice system, legal and civil protections, health care, and access to adequate nutrition. With each chapter on these topics, there are a number of policy recommendations for how our state can move forward to ending structural racism.

Let’s zero in one area to highlight. Structural racism has a significant impact on economic opportunities and success and is a driving force behind poverty. What statistics out there best quantify that?

The recent United Way of Northern New Jersey ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) report shows that 14 percent of people of color are below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) in New Jersey, while 33 percent are ALICE. It means that 47 percent of people of color in New Jersey have income insufficient to meet all of their basic necessities. This compares to 7 percent of white households who live below the FPL level and 24 percent who are ALICE. Further, a 2012 study found that African American women spent seven more months on Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) assistance than white women. However, they were no more likely to pass the five-year lifetime limit for TANF that was imposed in 1996. The same study found that when these women found employment, it was mostly low-wage. In addition, a new report from the Institute for Policy Studies showed that wealth of the median black household declined 75 percent between 1983 and 2013. The median wealth of Latino households declined 50 percent during the same time. It is estimated by the year 2024 whites will own 99 and 75 times the wealth of blacks and Latinos respectively. These income and wealth disparities are the result of job discrimination, discriminatory zoning policies that excluded African Americans from following the good jobs to the suburbs, and educational disadvantages generated by our “apartheid” school system.

Let’s talk a little about the many recommendations included in the report. They cover a lot of ground on how to combat structural racism, but can you summarize the overall goals? Do you hope in time to reduce racism in our society, or is the focus more on better adapting to the presence of that racism?

APN set about developing this report to call for a statewide committed, coordinated action to dismantle structural racism. Utilizing education, mobilization and advocacy, community members, government officials, religious institutions, organizations, businesses and legislators can work together to help eradicate the harsh outcomes of structural racism on people living in poverty in New Jersey. We intend to generate a public response that will lead to the implementation of policies and legislation reflective of the findings and recommendations in the report.

“The Uncomfortable Truth: Racism, Injustice and Poverty,” a report that details the effects of ...more

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Among the recommendations is the restoration of the Office of the Public Advocate. Why is that so important in this context?

A restored independent Office of the Public Advocate, having the power and resources to audit public agencies, would have as a priority mandate the charge to evaluate policies or programs that perpetuate racial and gender disparity in our state. The Public Advocate would be the voice of aggrieved, disadvantaged residents of our state, those affected by public policies and actions that are unjust, inequitable, discriminatory or contrary to the public good.

A major point of emphasis in the report is the need to prioritize the problem. Yet it feels like as a society we’re moving in the wrong direction on discrimination. Do you believe that’s truly the case, or is that perception unduly influenced by what we’re seeing in Washington?

As a nation we were built upon racism, with slave labor propelling us forward in our growth. Individual, overt racism is not something that we studied for this report. There is certainly national attention currently focusing on people who both espouse racially charged speech and those who seek peace and justice. The fact that structural racism exists is undeniable. That is why it is so important to begin a concerted effort to educate the public and examine the ways in which structural racism perpetuates poverty and keeps a large portion of our residents from being able to fully participate in our state’s economy. Moreover, including people of color with lived experience of poverty in the work ahead is critical to moving forward towards meaningful, lasting change.

How does New Jersey compare to other states in terms of its structural racism? Are there lessons to be learned from other locales that will help here?

New Jersey is the third most segregated state in the nation in terms of housing and education. People of color have consistently been denied access to opportunity in terms of where they live, access to jobs and education, and barriers in the form of a discriminatory criminal justice system. APN and the John Watson Institute of Public Policy at Thomas Edison State University released “The Cost of Poverty,” in May 2016, which outlines how we have pushed poverty into all of our urban areas big and small over the last few decades. These municipalities are left without a business and corporate tax base and other resources to deal with this great need. While people of color are disproportionately pushed into poverty across the nation, segregation from opportunity in New Jersey is what sets us apart.

Structural racism is by its nature embedded in our culture; some examples we don’t even recognize because we’ve never seen the alternative. Doesn’t that mean that any meaningful progress is destined to be slow at best?

The speed with which structural racism is addressed is directly related to express, unequivocal, aggressive recognition that it exists and is embodied in any given policy or practice. Once the public comes to understand and accept this judgment, failure to act is intentional racism. Remedial actions can be as swift as the rapid, nearly unanimous acceptance of same-sex marriage. We need to be prepared for the long haul, but open to the possibility of more expeditious responses when the opportunity arises. We have already received positive response from New Jersey’s leaders on some of the recommendations in the report. Indeed, recommendations like increasing the TANF benefit level and eliminating the family cap have been passed by our legislature with bipartisan support twice in the current legislative session, but were vetoed by our governor. So there are solutions we know that our leaders, advocates and residents agree upon that can be achieved more quickly.

If you were to prioritize the report’s own recommendations, where do you believe is the best place to start?

Two of the over-arching recommendations in the report: to reestablish the Office of the Public Advocate and strengthen the Division of Civil Rights would go a long way toward providing a voice and protections for people of color who face significant barriers to economic opportunity. These offices would be helpful to residents who are victims of wrongful evictions, car repossessions, and discrimination in employment and housing.

So look ahead for us — five years, 20 years, whatever time frame you think is appropriate. What do you believe would represent a successful outcome from The Uncomfortable Truth report?

Over the next 10 years, APN hopes that this report will spark meaningful discussion across the state about structural racism and the way it manifests in people’s lives. We believe that more research and data collection must be done to truly understand all of the issues. Further, the intent of the report is to build consensus among community members, government officials, religious institutions, organizations, businesses, legislators, and people with lived experience of poverty to not only change the conversation, but to enact a number of the policy solutions in the report so that structural racism would be eliminated in New Jersey. If nothing else, we would hope that in 10 years New Jersey has moved well down the list of most segregated states. That would speak to meaningful progress in a profound way.

About the contributor

Renee Koubiadis is executive director of the Anti-Poverty Network of New Jersey. She is a licensed social worker who serves as secretary/treasurer on the Board of the Affordable Homes Group Inc. in Burlington County and on the Board of Trustees for the New Jersey Coalition to End Homelessness (NJCEH). Previously, she was advocacy coordinator for the National Association of Social Workers – New Jersey chapter, and assistant state director for the Citizens’ Campaign.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Unidos Por Puerto Rico

The Latin American Coalition is collecting relief supplies for hurricane victims in Puerto Rico this weekend (Saturday, October 7 and Sunday, October 8) in the rear parking lot of Plainfield City Hall. See announcement below for details.