State of the Union 2016: Latino Leaders List Top Issues for Obama to Address in Final SOTU Speech
President Barack Obama will deliver his final State of the Union address on Tuesday night, and Latino leaders are expecting him to discuss the issues affecting the community.
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA), a coalition of 40 national and regional Latino organizations, published a letter for Obama, which includes topics for the president to consider addressing on Tuesday night.
"Significant progress has been made in the past year in postponing the immediate impact of sequestration on programs important to Latinos and the nation as a whole, expanding tax credits for working families, enrolling more Latinos in health insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act, and expanding employment," wrote NHLA Chair Hector Sanchez.
"As you know, much work remains to be done, and new threats have arisen as hateful rhetoric against Latinos, immigrants, and refugees reached new heights in the past year. We respectfully ask that in your State of the Union address, you raise the profile of our community's urgent priorities, described in greater detail below," added Sanchez, who also serves as the executive director for the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.
The NHLA named Puerto Rico's financial crisis among its list of topics that Obama should address. The NHLA is aware that the Obama administration presented a plan to address the commonwealth's debt crisis last fall, but it's a proposal that only Congress can pass. Congress, however, did not include language to provide Puerto Rico with the tools to fix their financial problems, and while Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., pledged to provide a solution by the end of 2016's first quarter, Sanchez wrote that it is not enough.
"Congress needs to act fast but the U.S. Treasury and other federal departments need to do more as well. It is imperative that you make this clear in your State of the Union address and show that the welfare of the 3.5 million American citizens living in the territory is a presidential priority," wrote Sanchez.
Immigration & Citizenship:
The NHLA reiterated its support of the Obama administration's November 2014 executive actions, which introduced the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) programs. And while the Obama administration currently addresses the legal challenges of DAPA and expanded DACA guidelines, Sanchez said the coalition continues to call on Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. Sanchez said the NHLA will continue to urge Congress to pass a bill despite Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stating they won't introduce such legislation during the remainder of Obama's presidency.
In regards to the recent deportation raids campaign, NHLA called on the administration to stop further action as it targets refugees instead of criminals. The NHLA also wants Obama to announce steps on humanely reforming the immigrant detention centers and to continue encouraging legal permanent residents to become naturalized U.S. citizens.
Sanchez credited the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also referred to Obamacare, for providing the Latino community with many benefits, such as affordable health costs and health research. Sanchez noted ACA enrollment efforts helped reduce the Latino uninsured rate by 9.7 percent between 2013 and October 2015 and supports Obama on issuing further vetoes against any bill repealing the ACA.
"Furthermore, NHLA will continue to build on the gains of the ACA to ensure access to coverage and care for these families," said Sanchez, specifically calling for the administration to allow DACA and DAPA beneficiaries to legally receive ACA benefits.
The NHLA also addressed additional topics ranging from education and Latino inclusion in government. To read the letter, click here.
State of the Union (English):
State of the Union with Spanish Subtitles:
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