Driving a Latino Agenda
There were times this year when it seemed that Latino issues weren’t just left unresolved in Washington, it was as if they were being ignored altogether. In response, Hispanic Federation (HF) increased its presence in Washington to hold legislators accountable to our communities.
“This year, we found ourselves really expanding our work in Washington, mainly as a result of congressional inaction on issues that really matter to our communities," said HF's National Director of Advocacy, Laura Esquivel. “From economic development to immigration to the environment, we pushed the White House and Congress to advance policies to help improve the quality of life of our families and communities nationwide. And while we weren't always successful, we were able to clearly delineate the needs and aspirations of our people and push our national leaders to pay heed to our robust Latino agenda.”
Here are some of the ways we worked to make a difference in our nation's capital in 2016:
Puerto Rico: HF led national efforts to get Congress to finally address Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, including making important modifications to proposals that would have deeply damaged the island’s already fragile economy. We coordinated town halls, organized press conferences, carried out legislative visits and conducted research to inform the national debate. Ultimately, we were able to work with some key legislative allies to successfully protect the Vieques National Wildlife Refuge, preserve the National Environmental Policy Act for the Commonwealth, and remove some of the more egregious provisions of the financial oversight board.
Immigration: Following President Obama’s Executive Actions on Immigration, HF met with federal, state and local government officials and agencies to prepare for a massive influx of questions and applicants. HF also signed on to a Supreme Court amicus brief, participated in coalition meetings and rallies, and gave testimony on the importance of passing DAPA and expanded DACA. Sadly, the Supreme Court’s deadlock (4-4) vote effectively denied these administrative changes from being enacted. As part of our preparation for the incoming Trump Administration and the 115th Congress, HF worked with MALDEF, and through the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, to coordinate a National Latino Immigration Summit in Washington D.C. in early December to develop a strategy to protect and defend the rights and dignity of our nation’s immigrant community.
Environmental Justice: We significantly increased our visibility and leadership in 2016 on conservation and climate justice issues. HF helped draft key sections of the environmental priorities for the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, took leadership roles in national environmental conferences and coalitions, published opinion pieces and organized hill visits to ensure that the Latino voice was elevated and clearly heard on this vital issue.