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.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Latino Action Network Applauds Federal Court’s Response to Mosquera Decision

The Latino Action Network applauds the decision of the U.S. District Court of New Jersey on Tuesday to ensure that all future candidates for office are treated fairly when boundaries are redrawn based on legislative redistricting. The decision, written by Judge Dickinson Debevoise, rejects the reasoning of the recent New Jersey Supreme Court decision invalidating the election of Assemblywoman Gabriela Mosquera.

“The federal court’s decision lays out clear and fair rules for New Jersey’s legislative elections going forward,” said Latino Action Network President Frank Argote-Freyre. “These rules will benefit all candidates and allow anyone who wants to run for office – including Latinos who are drastically underrepresented in the New Jersey Legislature – to run for office knowing the rules of the election will not be changed after the fact.”

The decision vindicates the position of the Latino Action Network, which joined the New Jersey Democratic State Committee, the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, the Latino Coalition Of Monmouth County, Women’s Political Caucus of NJ, and the Latinas United For Political Empowerment Political Action Committee in the litigation to oppose the Attorney General’s request for the federal court to allow the state’s one-year residency requirement to “apply” to districts drawn after redistricting – districts that only would have existed for seven months.

“The Attorney General’s request would have produced chaos – potentially leading to yet more losing candidates challenging elections after the fact,” Argote-Freyre added. “The foundation of fair voting is predictability and clarity, and Judge Debevoise’s order provides that.”

The Latino Action Network is a statewide 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.

Friday, June 15, 2012

LAN FYI: Obama Administration To Stop Deporting Younger Undocumented Immigrants And Grant Work Permits - The Huffington Post


-- The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

 The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States without documents but who have attended college or served in the military.

 Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.

Under the administration plan, undocumented immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.

The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement. The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods. "Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways," Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the administration's action.

"Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here." The extraordinary move comes in an election year in which the Hispanic vote could be critical in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida. While Obama enjoys support from a majority of Hispanic voters, Latino enthusiasm for the president has been tempered by the slow economic recovery, his inability to win congressional support for a broad overhaul of immigration laws and by his administration's aggressive deportation policy. Activists opposing his deportation policies last week mounted a hunger strike at an Obama campaign office in Denver, and other protests were planned for this weekend. The change is likely to cause an outcry from congressional Republicans, who are sure to perceive Obama's actions as an end run around them.

Republicans already have complained that previous administration uses of prosecutorial discretion in deportations amount to back-door amnesty. Romney and many Republican lawmakers want tighter border security measures before considering changes in immigration law. Romney opposes offering legal status to undocumented immigrants who attend college but has said he would do so for those who serve in the armed forces.

 An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month found Obama leading Romney among Hispanic voters 61 percent to 27 percent. But his administration's deportation policies have come under fire, and Latino leaders have raised the subject in private meetings with the president. In 2011, Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported a record 396,906 people and is expected to deport about 400,000 this year. A December poll by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 59 percent of Latinos disapproved of the president's handling of deportations. The changes come a year after the administration announced plans to focus on deporting serious criminals, immigrants who pose threats to public safety and national security, and serious immigration law violators.

 One of the officials said the latest policy change is just another step in the administration's evolving approach to immigration. Under the plan, immigrants whose deportation cases are pending in immigration court will have to prove their eligibility for a reprieve to ICE, which will begin dealing with such cases in 60 days. Any immigrant who already has a deportation order and those who never have been encountered by immigration authorities will deal with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

The exact details of how the program will work, including how much immigrants will have to pay to apply and what proof they will need, still are being worked out. In making it harder to deport, the Obama administration is in essence employing the same eligibility requirements spelled out in the proposed DREAM Act. The administration officials stopped short of calling the change an administrative DREAM Act – the name is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors – but the qualifications meet those laid out in a 2010 version that failed in the Senate after passing in the House. They said the DREAM Act, in some form, and comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system remained an administration priority. Undocumented immigrant children won't be eligible to apply for the deportation waiver until they turn 16, but the officials said younger children won't be deported either.

 Last year, Napolitano announced plans to review about 300,000 pending deportation cases and indefinitely suspend those that didn't meet department priorities. So far, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reviewed more than 232,000 cases and decided to stop working on about 20,000. About 4,000 of those 20,000 have opted to keep fighting in court to stay in the United States legally. For the people who opted to close their cases, work permits are not guaranteed.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Latino Action Network: Governor Christie’s Budget Not Fair to Latino Families

The Op-Ed below recently appeared in the Asbury Park Press.  It was written on behalf of the Latino Action Network by LAN Policy Committee Chair, Daniel Santo Pietro.  Daniel will be speaking on this topic as a panelist at a Budget Forum on Thursday, June 14th at 6 PM at CWA Local 1032, 67 Scotch Road in Ewing, New Jersey.  The budget forum entitled “How Christie’s Budget Threatens New Jersey’s Future: And How Working Families Are Paying the Price” is being hosted by the Latino Action Network, the New Jersey Working Families Alliance and CWA Local 1032. For more information, please contact Omar Perez at 201-448-7832 or  

SANTO PIETRO: Nothing fair about state budget: Working class victimized by Christie's misguided policies

Asbury Park Press Op-Ed - 5:50 PM, Jun 7, 2012

The Latino Action Network has watched Gov. Christie’s approach to “fairness” with great concern for the last three years. We get a queasy feeling in our stomachs whenever Christie mentions fairness because we know that is bad news for the most vulnerable in our society.

His definition of fairness always hurts the working poor the most. Latinos are spread over the economic spectrum, but most are modest working families who ask nothing more than fairness from their governmental leaders.

The centerpiece of the governor’s latest “fair” budget is a 10 percent across-the-board income tax cut. Most of the benefits go to those who earn more than $400,000, the very people who most in New Jersey think need to pay more to have a better society. But Christie can never be fair enough when it comes to the wealthy.

During the budget process, we hear about a compromise with Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, another overrated friend of the poor, that leaves most of the savings for the wealthy in place and proposes to restore a state Earned Income Tax Credit and deliver some property tax relief. The compromise fell apart recently when the latest state revenue figures fell short of projections and raised questions about whether we can afford a broad tax cut.

Even before the budget projection debacle, Christie found another way to hurt the poor by cutting state aid to the poorest school districts. School funding is one of the most contentious issues because the state Supreme Court has forced successive governors to find more money for the poorer districts.

Christie thinks he has found a way around fairness in our school aid formula by changing the school funding formula through budget language. The language changes the weights that determine how much aid each district should receive. The governor wants to lower the relative weight given to children who live in poverty, and those who need help to learn English. Many school districts who have large numbers of these children will receive millions less and districts with higher enrollments will receive more no matter the needs of their children.

Since many of these children are Hispanic, the Latino Action Network demands that this language be removed from the budget and we follow the school funding formula that is already law.

Last month, in lockstep with the national Republican Party’s blind opposition to health care reforms that move us toward universal coverage — the most important pillar of social fairness — the governor vetoed the creation of a Health Care Exchange.

The legislation, in line with national health care reform, was intended to create a competitive marketplace for health insurance plans by 2014. The exchange would have channeled millions in federal subsidies to 800,000 people in New Jersey who work, own small businesses and hold down more than one job to survive, but cannot afford health care coverage.

The governor has the audacity to say we should do nothing until the U.S. Supreme Court renders its decision because it may cost the taxpayer some unnecessary expense. In fact, the federal government has funded nearly all the start-up costs of the proposed health care exchanges. Fifteen states have already put exchanges in place.

Finally, of particular importance to Hispanics is Christie’s history of cutting modest programs that focused on the needs of working-class Hispanics. Hearing him say that now that the economy is improving, we can help those who sacrificed during the bad years, again makes us queasy. His plan is to reward high-end earners with a generous tax cut while denying working families any restoration of programs intended to help them cope with the poor economy.

In the past two years, Christie has thrown 13,000 legal immigrants off FamilyCare, dismantled Hispanic Women Resource Centers, slashed Division of Youth and Family Services cooperative programs with community organizations, gutted the Center for Hispanic Policy and Research Development, which funded many useful community programs, and denied staff support to the Commission on New Americans. The total of these programs is less than 5 percent of the proposed tax cuts.

It is not too late to return New Jersey toward fairness. A few courageous politicians could turn the tide and end the unfair, unaffordable tax cuts, re-establish the school funding formula, move ahead on the health exchange and still have enough left over to restore programs to working families and pass a balanced budget. Not only would Hispanics benefit, but all of New Jersey wins when fairness rules.

Friday, June 8, 2012

LAN Event: Health Care Reform and How it will Impact Latinos & Small Business Owners

The Latino Action Network has partnered with Passaic Mayor Dr. Alex D. Blanco, Passaic Municipal Council, New Jersey Citizen Action, and the NJ for Health Care Coalition to present a community event entitled:

Health Care Reform and How it will Impact Latinos & Small Business Owners

At Passaic City Hall, 330 Passaic Street in Passaic
Monday, June 18, 2012 at 6 PM

Sponsored by the Passaic Mayor Dr. Alex D. Blanco, Passaic Municipal Council, the Latino Action Network, New Jersey Citizen Action, and the NJ for Health Care Coalition.

Learn more about what the new health care law -- the Affordable Care Act -- means for Latinos and small business owners in New Jersey.

Topics include:

• Access to health care and upcoming changes. 444,000 more New Jerseyans are estimated to get health insurance coverage in 2014!

• Small business tax credits—who’s eligible for them? 72% of NJ Hispanic workers are employed by small businesses that are eligible for health care tax credits!

• State Insurance Exchanges. 2.3 million Self-employed Hispanics will be eligible for competitive health insurance in their state’s Exchange!

• Additional tools and resources available for small business owners interested in learning about how to speak to the media about Health Care Reform.

Refreshments will be served

RSVP to Yarrow at 973-643-8800 ext. 217

Sign up for this event on Facebook at: