Mexican-American organization that favors racial preferences
Supports the legalization of illegal Hispanic immigrants
Opposes military surveillance of U.S. borders
Opposes making English America’s official language
Established in 1929 and claiming a membership of approximately 115,000 people throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) is the largest and oldest Hispanic organization in the United States. Composed of more than 700 councils nationwide, LULAC’s mission is “to advance the economic condition, educational attainment, political influence, health and civil rights of the Hispanic population of the United States.”
LULAC began as a patriotic, pro-American, pro-citizenship organization and remained that way until the late 1950s. During its first three decades, it encouraged Hispanic assimilation to the "Anglo" culture and the acceptance of English as America’s primary language, discouraging the establishment of Spanish-language enclaves. It rejected the idea that the American Southwest should be returned to Mexico, and endorsed the deportation of illegal Mexicans during President Eisenhower's “Operation: Wetback” in 1954.
LULAC’s politics were transformed, however, by the radical movements of the 1960s and by the organization's need to compete with leftist groups like the National Council of La Raza for funding from the major foundations. Since the 1970s, the League has sought to expand affirmative action programs for minorities and “economic justice” initiatives for Hispanic illegal aliens living in the United States. For instance, LULAC helped organize an October 27, 1997 “Save The Dream” civil rights march across San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, a march whose purpose was "to protest attempts to discriminate against immigrants and dismantle affirmative action." LULAC's then-President Belen Robles said: “We march to protect the civil rights gains that we have fought so hard to achieve. Particularly in California, where Proposition 209 [which banned racial preferences in college admissions and public sector employment] has caused such a dramatic drop in minority enrollment rates at institutions of higher education, and [where] proposition 187 [which was designed to cut illegal aliens off from taxpayer-funded welfare benefits] has singled immigrants out for punishment, we need to stand up for our rights and let the forces of discrimination know that we will not let America go back into a system of institutionalized racism." LULAC’s co-sponsors for this event included the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, the National Organization for Women, Jesse Jackson's Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, and the United Farm Workers Union.
Viewing the United States as a nation plagued by “an alarming increase in xenophobia and anti-Hispanic sentiment,” LULAC councils have “fought back” by holding seminars and public symposiums on what they term “language and immigration issues.” Specifically, the League opposes the "English Only" movement (to establish English as the official language of the United States), calling it an effort “to limit the public (and in some cases, private) use of minority languages.” Says LULAC: "English-only is incredibly divisive because it sends the message that the culture of language minorities is inferior and illegal. With a dramatic increase in hate crimes and right wing terrorist attacks in the United States, the last thing we need is a frivolous bill to fuel the fires of racism."
In 2005 LULAC created an online petition calling for comprehensive immigration reform that would convert all illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States, into legalized citizens. Referencing only the needs and rights of “immigrants” generically, the petition makes no distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. For example, it calls for legislation that “treats immigrants with respect” and “provides a reasonable, realistic and legal path to earned permanent residence and citizenship for those already within the United States”; it asserts that “the vast majority of immigrants … work hard and they pay taxes”; and it rejects immigration-control proposals "that criminalize immigrants and their families, and the people and organizations that come in contact with them." According to LULAC, “Since the 9/11 terrorists, efforts have been focused on terrorizing good people simply because they are foreigners.”
In December 2005 LULAC created a website titled “WeAreRacists.com,” which portrayed the Minuteman Project -- an organization of U.S. citizens who alert the U.S. Border Patrol to the presence of unauthorized border-crossers in the American Southwest -- as “an anti-immigrant group” composed of “racists, cowards, un-Americans (sic), vigilantes, [and] domestic terrorists” who are “often affiliated with white supremacy groups.”
LULAC also opposes border-patrol policies that would authorize the U.S. military to prevent illegal immigration, on grounds that "military personnel are not trained for border patrolling and might easily violate the civil rights of those they intervene with." José Velez, who headed the League from 1990 to 1994, has said that the U.S. Border Patrol is "the enemy of my people and always will be." (In the 1990s, Mr. Valez submitted false papers for more than 6,000 illegals seeking amnesty, an action that resulted in Valez's conviction for 10 counts of immigration fraud.)
Rejecting all post-9/11 anti-terrorism legislation that might impact LULAC's desire for open borders, the League was a signatory to a March 17, 2003 letter exhorting members of the U.S. Congress "to oppose … 'Patriot [Act] II'" on grounds that it "contain[ed] a multitude of new and sweeping law enforcement and intelligence gathering powers … that would severely dilute, if not undermine, many basic constitutional rights." In addition, LULAC has given its organizational endorsement to the California-based Coalition for Civil Liberties, which tries to influence city councils to pass resolutions of non-compliance with the provisions of the Patriot Act.
LULAC’s various councils today give more than $1 million in scholarships to Hispanic students each year, conduct citizenship and voter registration drives, develop low-income housing units, and conduct youth leadership training programs -- all in an effort "to empower the Hispanic community at the local, state and national level." The LULAC National Educational Service Centers, the League's educational arm, provides counseling services to some 18,000 Hispanic students per year at sixteen regional centers. SER [Service, Employment, & Redevelopment] Jobs for Progress, LULAC’s employment arm, provides job skills and literacy training to Hispanics at more than four-dozen employment training centers throughout the United States. LULAC’s Immigration & Citizenship Project “assists individuals applying for United States citizenship to complete their applications and to place them in citizenship classes and other support services." This project is complemented by a Voter Registration Program designed to register as many new voters as possible.
In mid-November 2006, LULAC stated that the notable success of Democratic Party candidates on Election Day two weeks earlier "confirmed growing Hispanic political power in the United States with increased representation in Congress." "We are very excited to see that we may now have an opportunity to pass meaningful comprehensive immigration reform, address negotiating Medicare ... drug prices and raise the minimum wage among other key issues for Hispanics,” said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales. “The voters exercised their fundamental right to vote and chose change." LULAC happily reported that "Latinos ... made up less than 10 percent of the national electorate, and nearly three-quarters of them reported voting for Democrats."
In December 2006, LULAC -- in conjunction with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, and the Hispanic National Bar Association -- called on U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to place a moratorium on massive worksite raids designed to find illegal aliens. Said LULAC National President Rosa Rosales, “LULAC is asking for a moratorium on these raids. The process is having a negative impact on the immigrants, local communities and the economy. It is causing psychological damage to the families who are being arrested and separated from loved ones.”
Ms. Rosales holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from the University of Michigan, and formerly served as the League's National Vice President of the Southwest. Preceding her as LULAC's National President was Hector M. Flores, who spent a decade as an Equal Opportunity Specialist for the Office of Civil Rights within the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare.