We write in response to a recent article by Rep. Charlie Norwood [“The Truth About ‘La Raza,'” Human Events, April 10, 2006] on our organization the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S. We would like to express our appreciation that, in contrast to previous comments by the congressman in which he alleged — falsely and without evidence — that NCLR was misusing funds to support our advocacy agenda, he now acknowledges that “when one examines the all the organization’s activities, they are commendable non-profit projects, such as education and housing programs.” Nonetheless, the article still contains a number of factual errors we would like to correct.
First, Rep. Norwood mistranslates our name as the National Council of “the race.” The actual definition of “La Raza” is “people,” referring to the Hispanic people or community. To be very clear Hispanics are not a race, they are an ethnicity.
Second, NCLR did not receive $15. 2 million in federal grants last year and no federal funds of any kind were used to fund get-out-the-vote efforts or for any political purpose. NCLR received a total of $3.3 million in federal grants in FY 2005. In addition, NCLR’s subsidiary, the Raza Development Fund (RDF), was awarded a $4.8 million grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in FY 2005. RDF is the largest Latino community development financial institution in the country and it is funded primarily through the private sector.
The monies from HUD help leverage that private funding to provide capital that is otherwise unavailable or inaccessible to Hispanic community-based organizations. A sample of the projects we have supported included a health and dental clinic in Hayward, Calif., a charter school in one of the poorest sections of the nation, the South Bronx, and nearly $10 million in construction funding to build homes for first time home buyers in Arizona and Texas.
Third, while it is difficult to repudiate something we have never been for, we want to make very clear that one, NCLR has never supported and does not endorse the notion of “Reconquista” or “Aztlan,” and has never used, and unequivocally rejects, the motto “Por La Raza Todo, Fuera de la Raza Nada.” In fact, NCLR and its affiliates work every single day in a number of ways including providing English classes and supporting naturalization efforts to help integrate immigrants into American society. Two, NCLR does not support open borders. NCLR has consistently recognized the right of the United States to control its borders. Finally, NCLR does not support amnesty. We do support earned legalization as outlined in the Kennedy-McCain bill which would require participants to do a considerable amount of restitution — pay a large fine, pay back taxes, learn English, pass a security background check and go to the back of the visa line — in order to earn a chance at legal status.
We offered to explain all these issues to Rep. Norwood and answer any questions he might have in a letter hand-delivered to his office in December of last year. To date, we have yet to receive the courtesy of a reply. We extend the same offer to the editors of Human Events if they wish. In the meantime, we ask that Human Events publish a correction to address these inaccuracies about our organization and gross mischaracterizations of our policy positions.
NCLR President and CEO