Academics and Research / Magazine Feature

Latino Center presents report to Congress

The University of Denver Latino Center presented a report on the state of Latinos in the United States to members of Congress Sept. 23. The report calls for comprehensive immigration reform and the establishment of a presidential commission on Latino issues.

“We are proud that the University of Denver, through its Latino Center, has been able to focus its talent and energies on these great issues, and that it has done so in a manner that moves beyond analysis to recommendations and a call for action,” says Chancellor Robert Coombe. “As a university with deep roots in Colorado, we have both the opportunity and the obligation to address Latino issues in a positive and productive manner.”

The report, authored by the DU Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship and sponsored by Fundación Azteca America, was released Sept. 15 and includes detailed policy recommendations for the incoming administration and members of Congress.

Luis Echarte, chairman of Fundación Azteca America, says it is important to present the recommendations to both Republican and Democratic candidates. “A stronger Latino community means a stronger nation as a whole,” he says.

Maria Salazar, lead author of the report and a professor at DU’s Morgridge College of Education, says the most compelling recommendation is the need for various Latino organizations nationwide to collaborate on important Latino issues, funneled through a presidential commission. A united effort, she says, would ensure a strong Latino voice in the incoming administration.

Additional recommendations include:
•    Increase access to quality education, health care and economic services.
•    Invest in Latino community development as a means of promoting self sufficiency.
•    Increase linguistically and culturally relevant practices in education, health care, economic access, immigration reform and political engagement.
•    Enact federal legislation to protect Latinos against discriminatory and predatory practices.
•    Advance comprehensive and humane immigration reform.

The report found that Latino communities want to be self-sufficient and contribute to the U.S. society. However, Latinos face major challenges in accessing education, health care and economic services, and a lack of immigration reform widens disparities and limits progress.

DU’s Latino Center completed exhaustive research on Latino issues through community forums and consultation with several local, state and national Latino groups. Policy makers, including Sen. Ken Salazar and Gov. Bill Ritter, were involved in the forums hosted by DU and Azteca.

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