NBC News has reported that LULAC National President Roger Rocha was planning on retracting his letter to El Cheeto which supported his anti-immigrant agenda. The letter went so far as to support “the four pillars” of Trump’s plan, which included a border wall, border militarization, and familiy separation.
In a lengthy article, LULAC Executive Director Brent Wilkes (he led the effort that supported right-wing Latino Miguel Estrada for a judicial appointment in 2003, by the way) stated that LULAC’s national assembly voted to support a more progressive immigration agenda, including a “Clean DREAM Act,” no border wall, opposition to immigrant warehousing in private prisons, and local cops acting as immigration agents.
What was disturbing is that Rocha stated that he was asked by “business leaders” known as the Latino Coalition to write the letter. This group is a supporter of right-wing conservative causes, such as opposition to the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), support of Social Security privatization, and promotion of bad trade deals that exploit workers in Latin America. Issues in which LULAC and Latinos, generally, do not fall in line.
The funniest line:
Wilkes said the letter “was never intended to go public.” Rocha “didn’t anticipate it would be shared with members of Congress,” he said.
Because they didn’t anticipate Trump salivating over having some Hispanic lackeys to push his bigoted agenda, thus spreading the word about it?
Anyway, there was membership backlash all around, which has now caused Rocha to say he would retract the letter. How that is done without sending a powerful message that the group–which according to Rocha is the only group being allowed into the White House immigration discussion–does not back Trump on his framework, I don’t know.
At least, that’s what I hope members would demand.
LULAC is a membership-driven organization. It’s elaborately broken down into local councils that do much good work, such as scholarships, leadership development, promotion of higher education, etc. State organizations are broken into districts. And once a year, they assemble for a national convention which is quite the con-fab. Leaders are elected, most times controversially, and a legislative agenda is set for the organization to have some pull at the various levels of government, among other stuff they work on. That’s the elevator description.
So, it’s easy for me to say that I’m not a member, although I did do my time in the group in a council we called “The Cesar Chavez Council” during my college days. And I still support a few of their local causes. Me and my cohorts always thought of the group as too tame, if not conservative, but having it as a tool to push legislation and create leaders from the grassroots, we made it our own–not always to the liking of state and national leaders. And this usually came up during state and national conventions. Ahh, memories.
So, again, I’m not surprised that a screw-up like this would occur. But members and leaders need to grab hold of this organization if they want to be relevant at the national level as a group that fights for people’s rights, and not for border wall contracts for conservative “business leaders,” or for whatever reason the Latino Coalition support Trump’s wall.
As far as questions remaining, one needs to ask why Rocha would involve LULAC in a group like Latino Coalition that is very anti-Latino in its agenda.