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.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Hispanic Bar of New Jersey Disappointed with Governor Christie's Lack of Latino Nominations to Supreme Court

By Politicker Staff | December 19th, 2012 - 4:44pm

A nonprofit representing the state’s Hispanic legal community expressed disappointment earlier this week over Gov. Chris Christie’s decision not to nominate a Latino to the state Supreme Court.

The Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey issued a statement earlier this week criticizing the governor for failing to nominate a person for the high court who would better reflect the state’s diversity.

“The HBA-NJ considers it imperative that the leaders of our state appoint individuals that proportionately reflect the residents of New Jersey in order to instill public trust in our government and the justice system,” the association said in a statement.

“As the largest minority population in the state of New Jersey, and the largest growing minority population throughout the United States, Latinos have undeniably made significant contributions to the state,” reads the statement.

The association, which declared it is not currently taking a position on Christie’s two nominees, said the governor’s failure to nominate a Latino candidate has “been perceived by many as dismissive of the Latino community’s growth.”

Christie nominated Board of Public Utilities President Robert Hanna and Judge David Bauman to the state Supreme Court earlier this month.

The Latino Action Network announced shortly after the governor’s nominations that it opposes the governor’s plan to leave the Supreme Court without either an African-American or Latino member.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

LAN FYI: APPLICATION DEADLINE - January 25, 2013 - Bank of America Student Leaders Program - 8 week internship


APPLICATION DEADLINE - January 25, 2013 - Bank of America Student Leaders Program - 8 week internship

The Bank of America Charitable Foundation's Student Leaders® Program is accepting applications for the 2013 program. We are asking for your help to identify outstanding young people who are passionate about making a difference in our community.

Since its inception in 2004, the Bank of America Student Leaders Program has recognized more than 1,800 exemplary high school juniors and seniors who have a passion for improving their communities. The program helps students gain a greater understanding of how nonprofits create impact in the community and helps develop them as the next generation of community leaders through two components:

* A summer eight-week paid internship with a nonprofit organization selected by the bank. This internship is designed to provide opportunities for the students to develop and apply leadership skills through hands-on work experience, while raising their awareness of community issues addressed by their Host Organization.

* The week-long, all-expense paid Student Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. from July 8-12, 2013. Conducted in partnership with the Close Up Foundation, the Summit introduces students to aspects of civic, social and business leadership and provides them with knowledge and skills they will use throughout their life to create positive community change.

Students can apply for the program by going to, or for more information on the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, please visit or feel free to contact us. Please note the application deadline of January 25, 2013.


It's official: Electoral College picks Obama

Latino Action Network President Frank Argote-Freyre became a permanent part of New Jersey and U.S. history yesterday when he cast his vote for President Barack Obama as an member of the Electoral College. Congratulations Frank!

"Voters do not actually elect a president; rather electors, apportioned to each state based on its number of senators and representatives, vote on the Monday after the second Wednesday of the month of December in an election year. New Jersey’s ceremony was repeated in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on Monday, making the reelection of Obama official."

Read full story below

| The Asbury Park Press NJ |

TRENTON — Frank Argote-Freyre doesn’t believe in the Electoral College.

The body of electors that officially casts ballots for president of the United States feels “elitist,” he says.

But the Freehold resident didn’t let that stop him from becoming a member of the 57th Electoral College in New Jersey history and voting for a second term for President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Monday.

“My favorite line I’ve been telling my friends is I’m now the member of a club I never wanted to belong to,” Argote-Freyre joked.

“But nonetheless,” he said, “I wanted to take part in the historical aspect of it.”

So on Monday, Argote-Freyre and 13 others gathered in the state Senate chambers and voted for Obama and Biden in an event that was heavy on ceremony, with state Democratic Party Chairman John Wisniewski, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Chief Justice Stuart Rabner all playing roles in one of the oddities of the American electoral system.

Voters do not actually elect a president; rather electors, apportioned to each state based on its number of senators and representatives, vote on the Monday after the second Wednesday of the month of December in an election year. New Jersey’s ceremony was repeated in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on Monday, making the reelection of Obama official.

While the event followed form, any of the 14 could have thrown a curve if he or she had a sudden change of heart and voted for GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney or any other eligible person.

“I could have voted for you,” Argote-Freyre said, pointing at a reporter.

Because of that freedom, Argote-Freyre was one of the targets of a small lobbying effort, receiving one letter urging him not to vote for Obama because of what the writer said were questions about his status as a natural-born U.S. citizen and another letter calling for him to vote for Romney because of allegations of voter fraud.

Argote-Freyre said he would contact at least the latter correspondent and thank her for her information.

“Of course, it didn’t sway me,” Argote-Freyre joked.

A Latin-American historian, Argote-Freyre was particularly interested in seeing the workings of the college from the inside, a process he said was fascinating. A longtime Democrat, he became an elector through his work with the Latino Action Network, a nonpartisan advocacy group that interacted with Democratic movers and shakers during the legislative redistricting process earlier this year.

Argote-Freyre said he also was excited to share Monday’s event with his wife, Caridad, and teenage children, Andrew and Amanda.

“I wanted my kids to see that living history,” Argote-Freyre said. “It’s important to me that they see that.”

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

LAN FYI: Star Ledger - Christie introduces 2 new nominees for N.J. Supreme Court

The article below, which appeared in today's Star Ledger, shows the initial reaction to Governor Christie's nominations to the New Jersey Supreme Court. Latino Action Network Vice President, Christian Estevez was quoted in this article. [See pull out quote below]

“We’re definitely disappointed that the governor has nominated five people to the Supreme Court and not one of those nominations was a Latino,” said Christian Estevez, a Democrat who is executive vice president of the Latino Action Network.

You can see LAN's full statement on the announcement at:

Christie introduces 2 new nominees for N.J. Supreme Court

Star Ledger

By Jenna Portnoy/Statehouse Bureau
December 10, 2012

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie yesterday nominated a Japanese-American judge and the Board of Public Utilities chief to the state Supreme Court, hoping to finally win over Senate Democrats who landed their strongest punch against the Republican governor by rejecting his last two nominees earlier this year.

If confirmed, David Bauman, presiding judge of the state Superior Court’s Monmouth County civil division, would be the first Asian-American on the court and the first immigrant in modern history. BPU President Robert Hanna’s 16-year stint as a federal prosecutor overlapped with Christie’s time as U.S. attorney.

“These are two men whose careers are marked by a commitment to public service and dedication to the law that gives both of them unique perspectives and great opportunity to make a major contribution to the New Jersey Supreme Court,” Christie said.

Bauman, 56, who was born in Japan, thanked Christie as his family looked on from front-row seats at the Statehouse news conference.

“Service on the highest court is an extraordinary honor,” he said. “It’s also a solemn obligation, which I promise to discharge to the best of my abilities should I be privileged enough to be confirmed.” Hanna, 54, quoted Thomas Paine when describing the importance of an independent judiciary.

“If confirmed I will discharge my duties without fear or favor, my fidelity will be to the law, to the noble and enduring cause of justice and to the people of the state of New Jersey,” he said.

A similar scene played out almost one year ago, when Christie introduced Philip Kwon, a Korean-born son of immigrants who was first assistant state attorney general, and Chatham Mayor Bruce Harris, an openly gay African-American, as his court nominees.

But the Democrat-controlled Senate Judiciary Committee rebuffed both — and the governor. In votes along party lines, lawmakers rejected Kwon, citing questions about his family’s business and his political affiliation. They said Harris lacked courtroom experience.

As a result, the seven-member court has operated with only five justices since March.

Christie, who has attacked the high court as a bastion of liberal activism, said yesterday he conceded to Democrats’ demands for partisan balance and diversity but had “no idea” if the confirmation process would go more smoothly.

“I don’t really know what more they can ask for at this point,” he said. “No one, and I mean no one, could possibly doubt the qualifications of these two men.”

Through the selection process Christie said he was in “constant conversation” with Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester).

But Sweeney only issued a short statement: “The governor has made his nominations, as is his right. At this point in time, however, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) was noncommittal even though he joined his colleagues in unanimously confirming Hanna for BPU president less than a year ago. Bauman received the same endorsement in 2008 when former Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, nominated him to the bench.

“Being confirmed for the BPU,” Scutari said, “I don’t know whether that has anything to do with whether you’d be confirmed for the Supreme Court.”

Christie and Senate Democrats have scrapped over party affiliation on the high court, which has two Democrats, two Republicans and an independent. Democrats say Jaynee LaVecchia, the independent, should be considered a Republican because she worked under GOP governors. Christie considers LaVecchia an independent, and said these nominations are “a compromise” that should break the logjam.

Christie initially described Kwon, a previously registered Republican, as an independent, This summer he began referring to Kwon as a Republican.

Just as when Kwon became the first Asian-American nominated to the court, the Asian Pacific American Lawyers Association of New Jersey applauded the move. “I think this is a proud day ... for the Asian community,” president Paul Yoon said.

But representatives of other minority groups took aim at Christie.

“We’re definitely disappointed that the governor has nominated five people to the Supreme Court and not one of those nominations was a Latino,” said Christian Estevez, a Democrat who is executive vice president of the Latino Action Network.

State Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex), who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus, said, “We’re basically right back where we started with this governor as to how he relates to the Supreme Court and minorities across the board.”

Monday, December 10, 2012

SCHOLARSHIP: Bill Gates Scholarship Program For Minority Students

SCHOLARSHIP: Bill Gates Scholarship Program For Minority Students

Deadline: Jan. 16, 2013

Every year, the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) Program selects 1,000 talented minority students to receive a good-through-graduation scholarship to use at any college or university of their choice. The program provides scholars with personal & professional development through our leadership programs along with academic support through-out their college career. Administered by the UNCF, the program was initially funded by a $1 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Since 1999, it has funded the education of more than 16,000 students, awarding them more than $614M to pay for tuition, fees, books and housing.

The program aims to reduce financial barriers for African American, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian Pacific Islander American and Hispanic American students with high academic & leadership promise who have significant financial need; increase the representation of these target groups in the disciplines of computer science, education, engineering, library science, mathematics, public health & the sciences, where these groups are severely underrepresented; develop a diversified cadre of future leaders for America by facilitating successful completion of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees; and provide seamless support from undergraduate through doctoral programs, for students selected as Gates Millennium Scholars entering target disciplines.

The deadline for submission is January 16, 2013.

Click HERE for more information:



For Immediate Release: December 10, 2012
Frank Argote-Freyre, President – 908-670-0552
Christian Estevez, Executive Vice President – 973-418-7012

The Latino Action Network today announced its opposition to Governor Chris Christie's plan to leave the Supreme Court without either an African-American or Latino member for the first time since 1994, and asked the State Senate to reject the nominations.

“New Jersey’s Supreme Court should represent everyone. One third of New Jersey residents are Latinos or African-Americans,” said Frank Argote-Freyre, President of the Latino Action Network. “Yet Governor Christie's nominations would reduce the diversity of the New Jersey Supreme Court for the next decade or more - during which time New Jersey will become a majority-minority state.”

New Jersey, according to the 2010 Census, has the twelfth-highest percentage of people of color of any state, with Latinos, African-Americans, and Asian-Americans making up 40.7 percent of the state's population. Latinos are the largest minority group in New Jersey and accounted for the vast majority of population growth in New Jersey over the last decade.

"With this move, New Jersey would go backwards, not forwards in judicial diversity," Argote-Freyre said. "We urge the Senate to reject these nominations and instead work with Governor Christie to ensure that any one of a number of well qualified Latinos have a place on the Court. Five nominations without one Latino is enough."

The Latino Action Network was part of an alliance of Latino and African-American groups that asked Governor Christie and Senate leadership to respect basic principles for the Supreme Court (included in full below). In addition to diversity, our groups asked for partisan balance: at least three justices representing each political party, as has been the case for the entire history of the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Gov. Christie's nominations repeat the nominations in the spring where nominations are used to try to gain an unfair partisan advantage.

"If there is any message that came out of the recent Presidential election, it is that diversity matters in America," Argote-Freyre added. "Now is not the time to turn back the clock in New Jersey."

The Latino Action Network is a broad, statewide coalition of Latino organizations devoted to civil rights and political empowerment.


Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey • Black Issues Convention • Garden State Bar Association • La Causa NJ • Latino Action Network • Latino Coalition • Latino Institute, Inc. • NAACP, New Jersey State Conference

September 12, 2011

Dear Senate President Stephen Sweeney, Majority Leader Barbara Buono, Minority LeaderThomas Kean, Chair Nicholas Scutari, Vice-Chair John Girgenti, and Honorable Members of the Judiciary Committee:

As New Jersey's State Supreme Court convenes for its 2011-12 court year, we write to remind you that the court is respected for both its diversity and its independence.  Indeed, some have noted that the court’s diversity, which includes both ethnic diversity and diversity of thought, contributes inextricably to the court’s national reputation for judicial independence.  It should be no surprise, therefore, that we, the undersigned, express our concern with the recent confirmation of of Anne Patterson without demanding an unequivocal, public statement from Governor Chris Christie that he will reflect the court’s history of diversity and judicial independence in each of his future nominations.  Moreover, it is our view that these twin hallmarks of justice – diversity and independence -- must be reflected not only in the Governor’s appointments to the State Supreme Court, but also in his appointments to our State’s appellate, superior and municipal courts.

We urge you, as the branch of government with the Constitutional duty to review court nominations, to only advance any further candidate to our State’s highest court if the Governor nominates justices for the two more seats on the Court becoming vacant over the next six months that maintain the diversity and independence of the Court.

With respect to ethnic diversity, the clarion call of the 2010 Census data could not be clearer: New Jersey is one of the most diverse states in the country.  Latinos, African-Americans and Asians comprise in excess of 40% New Jersey's population and there is little question that our state, like our country, will become decidedly more diverse over the next decade.  Notwithstanding this fact, as a result of the Governor’s nomination of Anne Patterson to fill the vacancy created by Justice Rivera-Soto’s resignation, the State Supreme Court convening today has not a single justice of color, for the first time in decades.  Significantly, of the 11 other states with population demographics similar to New Jersey’s, only one has a State Supreme Court without any minority jurists: Arizona. With Arizona’s notorious reputation for racial and ethnic division, we need leadership that refuses to emulate this model.  Governor Christie’s promise to the citizens of New Jersey was to move this state forward.  His policies not only belie his promises, but they also threaten to move our State’s judicial system backwards.

With respect to judicial independence, the intent of the framers of our State Constitution is clear. The framers intended to hardwire judicial independence in the judicial nomination process.  In response to rampant corruption in the courts that made the reputation of New Jersey’s judiciary among the worst in the nation, the framers put into place two basic mechanisms to safeguard the integrity of the courts: first, appointment of judges by the Governor for a seven-year term with reappointment unless the judge had acted unethically; and second, partisan balance on the Court — no matter who serves as Governor, court appointments would ensure representation of both parties.

Admirably, the foregoing principles have led governors to respect the independence of the Court across party lines — reflected in moments such as Governor Thomas Kean's reappointment of Chief Justice Robert Wilentz and Governor Jon Corzine's appointment of Justice Helen Hoens.  Indeed, it is a testament to New Jersey’s independent judiciary that the two dissenting justices in the recent Abbott decision were both Republican justices appointed by Democratic governors.

Governor Christie’s actions and statements to date give cause for alarm as to his willingness to maintain traditional appointment principles and brazenly ignore the intent of the framers of our State Constitution.  While we applaud Senate President Sweeney for standing up for the citizens of New Jersey in leaving Justice Wallace's seat vacant, we now ask the Senate to make its commitment to diverse and independent courts clear.  The Governor's actions have made it clear that he does not support the court’s history of judicial independence, which he mis-characterizes as “judicial activism.” Indeed, the Governor has stated that he intends to make appointments that reflect his own partisan ideology.  This is precisely the result that the framers of our State Constitution not only wanted to avoid, but put forth measures to avoid.

If Governor Christie remains unwilling to embrace his constitutional duty to respect the intent of the framers, as Constitutional officers, your duty is to stand up for that which is fair.  We ask that you lead where the Governor will not, and demand that he publically articulate his respect for the intent of the framers. We ask the Senate not to move forward with any further Supreme Court nomination unless it is part of a package of nominees with the Governor that addresses all of these issues. This package should result in a continued balance between political backgrounds, continue the tradition of representation of each of the state’s two largest groups of people of color, and promise judges that if they do their job ethically they will not face a partisan review of their decisions.

Otherwise, the fair and impartial judiciary, which has served New Jersey well for over 60 years, will be eradicated.  While we have not agreed with every decision rendered by the judiciary, we have never doubted either its integrity or its fundamental bent toward fairness and justice.

We ask that you to act immediately to ensure the continued trust of the citizens of New Jersey in our State’s judiciary. We thank you for your leadership and your support for an independent and representative judiciary, and we look forward to working with you throughout the judicial nomination process.


Association of Black Women Lawyers of New Jersey

Black Issues Convention

Garden State Bar Association

La Causa NJ

Latino Action Network

Latino Coalition

Latino Institute, Inc.

NAACP, New Jersey State Conference

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Latino Action Network Supports DREAMers Platform for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

The Latino Action Network today expressed its support for the six point platform adopted by the participants of the United We Dream 2012 National Congress in Kansas City, Missouri this past weekend.  A delegation from the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC) were among the 600 DREAMers that participated in the congress.

"We were excited to hear from the members of New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition that attended the congress", said Christian Estevez, Executive Vice President of LAN.  "NJDAC and national United We DREAM representatives briefed us on the proceedings of the congress as well as the six point platform they adopted."

The platform voted on at the Congress includes demands for protections for families, access to higher education, and a road map to legal immigration status and citizenship:

1.     Fair treatment for DREAMers and our families and communities, including a roadmap to citizenship for 11 million Americans without papers and an end to senseless deportations and abuses

2.     The ability to travel without fear, ensuring all immigrants have access to driver licenses and the ability to visit family in other countries

3.     The elimination of barriers to higher education for immigrant youth by extending state and federal financial aid opportunities, as well as in-state tuition rates to DREAMers available to our peers

4.     An end to excessive and costly immigration enforcement policies which separate families and divide communities, such as “Secure Communities,” E-Verify, 287G, and roadside checkpoints

5.     Access to health care and safe, fair working conditions and equal protection under the law for all

6.     Growth and diversity of our movement for change, intensifying efforts to become more inclusive of non-Latinos, LGBTQ communities, differently-abled people, people of faith, and other groups

"The platform voted on by the DREAMers in Kansas City is very much in line with the Latino Action Network's policy position on the need for comprehensive immigration reform", said LAN President Frank Argote-Freyre.  "We are especially pleased with their decision to expand their movement to include non-Latinos, LGTBQ communities, differently-abled people, people of faith, and other groups."

The Latino Action Network announced its support for marriage equality back in February of this year, urging the passage of the Marriage Equality and Religious Exemption Act in the New Jersey State Legislature. The marriage equality bill passed both houses of the legislature but was promptly vetoed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

The Latino Action Network has expressed  its support for the platform adopted by the DREAMers and pledged to work with the DREAMers in the pursuit of the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform.

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

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Services for Dr. Daniel H. Jara

Services for Dr. Daniel H. Jara

There will be a brief service followed by a final viewing on:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Gentile Funeral Services  
397 Union Street
Hackensack, NJ 07601 

[Thank you to the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey for providing this information.]

Young Immigrant Activists Cast a Wider Net

This New York Times article provides more information about the historic conference held in Kansas City, Missouri over this past weekend.  The 600 DREAMers at that conference, which included a delegation from the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC), decided to expand past previous call for the passage of the DREAM Act and instead to push for broader Comprehensive Immigration Reform that would include a path to citizenship for themselves and their families. 

[Read the full article below]

Young Immigrant Activists Cast a Wider Net

Delegates on Saturday reflected in silence during the United We Dream congress for young immigrants in Kansas City, Mo.

Published: December 2, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — After a boisterous three-day congress here, more than 600 leaders of a national movement of young immigrants living in the country without legal papers voted to expand beyond their past demands for citizenship for young people, and to mobilize in support of a bill to legalize 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.

The leaders of the United We Dream network, the largest organization of youths here illegally, decided to push President Obama and Congress next year for legislation to open a path to citizenship for them and their families. The move will increase pressure on Mr. Obama and lawmakers to pass a comprehensive overhaul, rather than taking on the debate over immigration in smaller pieces to try to gain more support among Republicans.

The network’s platform calling for an “inclusive pathway to citizenship,” which the leaders adopted unanimously in a vote on Sunday morning, is likely to have a large influence on the debate Mr. Obama said he planned to kick off soon after his inauguration in January. The young people, who call themselves Dreamers, generally attract more sympathy from American voters than other immigrants here illegally, because most were brought to the country as children and many became activists after their illegal status thwarted their plans for college.

They take their name from the Dream Act, a bill that would create a pathway to citizenship for young people, which lawmakers on both sides of the aisle view as having a better chance than broader legalization measures. This year several Republicans, including Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, worked on alternative proposals that could attract support from their party. An estimated 1.7 million young immigrants would be eligible for legal status under the Dream Act.

But the youths opted to fight for broader gains, concluding that events were working in their favor after the Nov. 6 election, when Latino voters turned out in large numbers, overwhelmingly in favor of Mr. Obama.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity to engage our parents, our cousins, our abuelitos in this fight,” said Cristina Jimenez, a leader of the United We Dream organization, using the Spanish word for grandparents.

Although most of the young people who attended the conference do not have legal papers, it was a sign of their new confidence that the network held its congress in the convention center downtown, in a conservative state where most voters oppose amnesty for illegal immigrants.

In June, Mr. Obama announced two-year reprieves from deportation and work permits for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants, an initiative that they saw as a victory for their protests over the past two years. Some participants here already had their reprieve documents.

For many young people, getting here was still a challenge. Some who came from California said they had taken the risk of flying for the first time, passing security with state identity documents. Others came by car from places like Florida, New York and Texas, driven by the few among them who have valid licenses.

Their decision to push for legal status for their families was intensely emotional. When they were asked at a plenary session how many had been separated by deportation from a parent or other close family member, hundreds of hands went up. They were critical of Mr. Obama for deporting more than 1.4 million people during his first term.

“When Obama is deporting all these people, separating all of our families, I’m sick and tired of that,” said Regem Corpuz, a 19-year-old student at the University of California, Los Angeles, who was born in the Philippines.

“Our families’ dreams were to get a better future,” said Ulises Vasquez of Sonoma County, Calif., “but our future is with our families together.”

On Sunday, six immigrant parents, also here illegally, joined a “coming out” ceremony where they spoke in public for the first time, as many youths have done in recent protests.

One father, Juan Jose Zorrilla, 45, who is from Mexico, recounted how he had entered the United States several times by swimming across the Rio Grande. “For parents, there is no sacrifice so large that we won’t make it for our children,” Mr. Zorrilla said. A mass of youths jumped up from their chairs to embrace Mr. Zorrilla and the other parents.

Much of the debate centered on how the movement would navigate hard realities in Washington. Opposition to legalization remains strong among Republicans, who control the House.

Network leaders said the election results, in which Mitt Romney won only 27 percent of the Latino vote, give them new influence with both parties, but particularly with Republicans.

“The Republican Party alienated Latino voters in ways they hadn’t done before,” said Lorella Praeli, a leader of the United We Dream organization. “Our leverage is that our community is growing,” Ms. Praeli said. She suggested that young immigrants ask Republicans: “Do you want your party to see the inside of the White House again?”        

Monday, December 3, 2012

DREAMers’ political coming of age: a bolder more inclusive agenda

A national group of Dreamers have just released their platform calling for citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented. A delegation from the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition (NJDAC) travelled to Kansas City, Missouri to participate in the United We Dream 2012 National Congress. They were among the 600 DREAMer representatives that voted for an official platform with six demands, including a call for the creation of a road map to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented and an end to “senseless” deportations.

Read about them below:

DREAMers’ political coming of age: a bolder more inclusive agenda

Posted by Sandra Lilley

December 3, 2012 3:28pm

Talk about dreaming big. What started out as a group of undocumented youth asking to be allowed to pursue higher education or work without fear of deportation has grown into a bold mandate calling for a national road map. DREAMers want citizenship not just for themselves, but for their parents, grandparents and neighbors, and are advocating for a broad, diverse coalition to make this happen.

“We strongly believe the immigrant youth movement has accomplished unprecedented power,” said Cristina Jimenez, managing director of the group United We Dream. Saying that DREAMers were instrumental in President Obama’s deferred deportation policy, as well as in encouraging large numbers of Latinos to vote in November’s election, “it really puts us in a position to be bold about our vision,” said Jimenez in a press call following a DREAMer national conference this weekend in Kansas City, Missouri.

At the United We Dream 2012 National Congress, 600 DREAMer representatives voted for an official platform with six demands. It calls for a road map to citizenship for the nation’s 11 million undocumented and an end to “senseless” deportations. It also demands the ability of undocumented immigrants to ‘travel without fear’ by ensuring access to driver’s licenses and the ability to visit family in other countries. It calls for extending state and federal financial aid opportunities for undocumented youth as well as in-state tuition rates to DREAMers, and demands an end to “excessive and costly immigration enforcement policies” such as Secure Communities, E-Verify, 287G, and roadside checkpoints.

The platform also advocates for access to health care and “safe, fair working conditions” and equal protection under the law for all. Lastly, the group wants to include more non-Latinos, as well as people of different sexual orientations, faith groups and and “differently-abled” people.

The group came out against the recent Achieve Act, a Republican-sponsored bill which would allow Dreamers to obtain visas for study or work without ensuring a pathway to citizenship. “Cynical political gestures like the Achieve Act are a step backwards,” said Lorella Praeli, United We Dream’s director of advocacy and policy. The group plans to have coordinated actions and press conferences across the country the week of President Obama’s inauguration. At the same time, United We Dream stresses it is will meet with legislators from both parties – they mentioned Democratic Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio – to press for bipartisan immigration reform in the next legislative session.

Political ‘coming of age?’

Political scientist Cristina Beltran, associate professor of social and cultural analysis and the director of Latino Studies at New York University, says the DREAMers’ platform represents a big change. ”We have been the ones talking about immigration, but now undocumented immigrants are talking to us,” says Beltran, who has written a book on Latino politics and the creation of identity. She says the DREAMers’ platform calling for more inclusion of non-Latinos, as well as people of different sexual orientations and abilities, is a smart move.

“In a way, one of the issues with the immigration debate is that it was very ‘Mexicanized’ – it was treated as a ‘Mexico’ issue,” Beltran says. ”By stressing the global nature of immigration and the fact it encompasses many different people, it keeps it from being all about ‘Latino-bashing’ and ensures more political buy-in,” Beltran explains.

“This is a group of young people who have been pretty tested, and they have seen the Dream Act fail repeatedly,” Beltran adds. “They are not naive, but young people are often bolder than their elders,and are more optimistic and less cynical,” she states. After all, Beltran says, it was the DREAMers who pushed for a deferred action policy when many in the Administration thought it would be impossible.

Some have questioned whether the recent focus on DREAMers has taken away from the larger issue of immigration. “Besides the individual level storytelling, they have not moved the debate except to focus much of the debate on them. I have a problem with that,” stated recently political scientist and Northern Arizona University professor Stephen Nuño.

Now, as the DREAMers push for a broader immigration reform agenda, the question is whether these Latino young activists will be able to successfully move the needle in the new Congress, which starts in January.

Judging from the statements today, they’re ready.

“We are gearing up for a fight – right after the Presidential inauguration,” said United We Dream’s Praeli. Saying she expects to see a bill on the floor of Congress in May, the Latina DREAMer said she expected some “really heated months” in February, March and April. ”Our strategies will be bold and new,” Praeli says.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

LATINO Leadership Coalition Calls on Bergen County Executive to Ensure Diversity on the Board of Trustees of Bergen Community College

The Latino Action Network has joined together with local and statewide Latinos to call upon Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan to appoint more Latinos to the Board of Trustees of Bergen Community College. The LATINO Leadership Coalition of Bergen County expressed our serious concerns regarding the lack of diversity on the Board of Trustees at Bergen Community College (BCC) and Ms. Donovan's decision to not re-appoint Germaine Ortiz to the Board. Bergen Community College has a very diverse student population. 52% of the student body is non-White. However, with the non-renewal of Germaine Ortiz, only two of the nine members of the college's Board of Trustees will be non-White. Our coalition is calling on County Executive Donovan to appoint members of the Board of Trustees that better reflect the diversity of the the student body of the college. You can read a copy of the letter that was sent to Ms. Donovan yesterday below. To get involved in our fight for diversity at Bergen Community College send an email to LAN at:

Please forward to all of your contacts who are concerned about the lack of diversity in the leadership of Bergen Community College.

LATINO Leadership Coalition of Bergen County

November 30, 2012

The Honorable Kathleen Donovan Bergen County Executive
1 Bergen County Plaza Hackensack, NJ 07601

Dear County Executive Donovan:

We write to express our serious concerns regarding the lack of diversity on the Board of Trustees at Bergen Community College (BCC) and your decision to not re-appoint Germaine Ortiz to the Board. Mrs. Ortiz is unquestionably qualified to serve on this board as her eight years of services on the Board has help earn the institution the recognition that it currently holds. On November 21, 2012, the Bergen Record reported that you are making four appointments to the BCC Board of Trustees, of which two are new appointments and two are re-appointments.

Of the four names mentioned in the article, none represent diverse communities. Additionally, counting the two appointments made by you last year, you will have made a total of six appointments to the BCC Board of Trustees in your tenure as Bergen County Executive and none of the appointments represent diverse communities.

If the four names you have submitted for appointments are approved by the Bergen County Board of Chosen Freeholders, onlyCid Wilson, Trustee Vice Chairman (who is Afro-Latino) and Dorothy Blakeslee, Treasurer (who is Asian American) would be Non-Caucasian among the eleven appointed members to the Board of Trustees. We consider this to be unacceptable for an institution where 52% of the student enrollments are from diverse communities.

According to the 2010-2011 BCC Fact Book, 32.4% of the students are Latino, 10.8% are Asian American, 7.6% are African-American, 1% is from other ethnicities, and 48.1% of the students are Caucasian. Non-Caucasian students are contributing 39.2% of the total annual revenues at BCC; the County of Bergen's share of the BCC annual budget is only 10.7% (using the Fiscal Year 2012 budget).

We believe that it is unjust and biased that BCC, which has 52% student diversity and contributes nearly 40% to the annual revenues, lacks an appropriate and comparable level of diverse representation on the Board of Trustees. We are asking that you please reconsider your appointment decision by re-appointing Germaine Ortiz and/or appointing another Latina/o to the BCC Board of Trustees to better mirror the diversity of the student enrollment.

BCC has a rich history of diversity. It's what makes BCC one of the greatest community colleges in the United States. We are sure you agree that diversity strengthens learning at the campus.

Diversity helps to prepare students for a globally-competitive workforce. Diversity helps to create a better understanding of one another's cultural and racial heritage.
Diversity promotes multicultural and racial unity. Diversity strengthens Bergen County given that most of the students, faculty, and staff live in Bergen County.

However, BCC must show diversity through leadership and that begins with the Board of Trustees which is the governing body of the institution. BCC cannot be a beacon of diversity when the representation on the Board of Trustees lacks diversity.

Four years ago, five of the eleven trustee appointees represented diverse communities on the Board of Trustees. As Bergen County Executive, you have the ability to restore the balance of diversity that better reflects the diversity of the student enrollment.

Accordingly, we are calling on you to please reconsider your recent appointment decision ahead of the December 5, 2012 Bergen County Freeholder meeting and nominate more diverse trustees. As Latinos are the largest percentage of students, we feel it's appropriate to call on you to use this year's appointment opportunity to nominate more Latinos.

We thank you for your consideration and are available to meet with you to discuss further, please contact Arline Mateo at 347-242-1893.


Latino Organizations of Bergen County:

Club Colombia USA, Julio Salcedo President
Dominican American Organization, Inc., Lucilo Santos-President
Fundacion Casita de Legui, Inc., Nick Matos (Garfield)
Hispanic USA, Jesus Galvis-President
Latin American Community Action, Neida Colon
NJ coalition of Latino Clergy and Christian Leader (CONLAMIC-NJ) - Rev. Miguel Rivera, Board President
Pastor Herando Ruiz
Pastor Ana Guerra
Pastor Israel Torres
Pastor Jose La Luz, Hackensack
U.R.G.E.N.T. (United Residents of Garfield Engaging Neighborhood Transformation)- Miguel Reyes, President
YOBILU, Yolanda Naranjo-President

NJ Latino Organizations with Bergen County Delegates:

New Jersey Conference on Dominican Affairs- Maria Treresa Feliciano, President Latino Action Network, Frank Argote-Freyre, President

NJ Latino Elected Officials:

Marlene Caride, Assemblywoman, District 36
Councilman Carlos Aguasvivas, Bergenfield
Councilman Elect Hernando Rivera, Bergenfield
Councilman Evaristo Burdiez, Bogota Councilman Jorge Nunez, Bogota
Councilman Jorge Meneses, Hackensack