Thanks to a congressional earmark, an open-borders advocacy group that pushes for driver’s licenses, free in-state tuition and healthcare for illegal aliens and bilingual requirements for state agencies and ballots is slated to get $4 million in new taxpayer money to add to the more than $30 million it has received from various federal agencies since 1996.
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Spanish for “the race,” will get its latest grant through an appropriations bill passed by Congress on November 18. The Joint Explanatory Statement of HR 3058, available on the House’s Rules Committee website lists 1,100 plus earmarks in the bill, including La Raza’s grant under the Housing and Urban Development Department’s Self-Help and Assisted Ownership Programs. Under this account La Raza will receive four times as much as the Special Olympics, which won a $1-million earmark.
La Raza is the nation’s largest Hispanic advocacy organization. It was adamantly opposed to the REAL ID Act, which will prevent states from issuing driver’s licenses to illegal aliens if they want them to be usable for federal purposes. It is also opposed to the CLEAR Act, which would grant state and local law enforcement agencies that wish to do so the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
The Capital Research Center (CRC), which rates public interest groups on a scale of 1 to 8, with 1 equaling “radical left” and 8 equaling “free market right,” gave La Raza a rating of 2, the same rating it gave People for the American Way and NARAL Pro-Choice America. CRC reports that La Raza’s net assets totaled nearly $52 million in 2003.
La Raza Senior Vice President Charles Kamasaki explained in an e-mail that his group typically gets government grants three different ways: The largest awards probably come from competitive bidding processes for grants and contracts said Kamasaki. But other grants include congressional earmarks—such as the one in this year’s Housing appropriation—and discretionary funds allocated from agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, which have all provided tax dollars to NCLR.
NCLR also employs an appropriations lobbyist who works to secure federal earmarks for the group. Tax forms available from CRC also reveal that La Raza spends about $1 million per year on lobbyists, fundraising and web design.
The $4-million grant in this year’s housing bill, which is the fifth in a series of similar congressional earmarks, wasn’t expected, Kamaski said. “This was a somewhat unusual year in that this earmark was not specifically requested,” he explained. He also said the funding is targeted primarily toward a La Raza subsidiary that has made over $40 million in loans to NCLR affiliates and other community based groups such as charter school facilities, heath clinics, day-care centers and affordable housing developments.
One person who would like to know how La Raza’s $4-million earmark got into the bill is Rep. Charlie Norwood (R.-Ga.) who, with Rep. Pete Sessions (R.-Tex.), sponsors the CLEAR Act. Jennifer Hing, communication director for Rep. Joe Knollenberg (R.-Mich.) who is chairman of the House Appropriations subcommittee that handled the bill, said the Senate inserted the earmark.
Norwood said he was told the money was stricken from the House version of the bill because NCLR has not used the money for housing they received last year. “But no matter what they did or didn’t do last year, we ought not to send taxpayer’s money to people who absolutely advocate perhaps using that money for this country not to follow the law of the land and not to secure our country’s borders,” he said. Said Norwood: “It sounds like they have a sugar-daddy in the Senate.”
One possible culprit is Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) who sits on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee that handled the bill carrying the earmark. In 2001, Reid sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting $5 million for La Raza’s housing programs. That same year Reid also received NCLR’s Capital Award for “his commitment to advance legislation priorities of the Latino Community.” In gratitude, Reid told NCLR, “La Raza is like the biblical David, fighting all these Goliaths.”
Reid’s office did not respond to calls asking whether he inserted or even supported the earmark.
Despite the significant federal assistance La Raza has received, Cecilia Munoz, the group’s vice president for policy, has rebuked the Bush Administration for not catering to the needs of immigrants. “We all know there is a wing of the Republican Party that will never like anything that treats immigrants well,” she said in June. “Any attempt by the President to move in the direction of those folks is going to be viewed as hostile to the Latino community.”
Commenting on the irony that a Republican-controlled Congress would send to a Republican President a spending bill that included a multi-million-dollar subsidy for a left-wing group, a GOP aide told Human Events: “We Republicans excel at funding or otherwise supporting our political adversaries.”