Yesterday the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA)–a nonpartisan association of Hispanic organizations and leaders–announced a bold new policy agenda at the DNC, calling upon elected officials, candidates, political parties, the media and the general public to consider and adopt the NHLA platform.

The Hispanic Policy Agenda addresses prime policy issues facing Hispanics in six main issue areas:

  • Education
  • Civil rights
  • Immigration
  • Economic Empowerment
  • Health
  • Government Accountability

NHLA Chair and President of the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund (MALDEF), John Trasvina, began by introducing the purpose of the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda as being the establishment of a set of principles and priorities that the candidates need to adopt if they want to gain the support of the Latinos. “We need to make sure that the truth is spoken about immigration and the needs of the Latino community and we don’t let others define what we are,” said Trasvina.

Janet Murguia–Chair of NHLA Policy Subcommittees and President of National Council of La Raza spoke about immigration. For the second time during the DNC, Murguia called for immigration reform early in the first term of the new president. “As a result of the negative environment created by the dehumanizing and demonizing rhetoric after the fall of the 2007 immigration bill, immigration has become a priority issue for all Latino voters,” said Murguia.

Murguia denounced a piecemeal approach to immigration policy She stressed the need to protect families from immigration raids that are having negative impacts on wholesale communities. She also emphasized the importance of passing legislation resembling the DREAM Act.

“There’s too many young kids who are beating the odds and graduating from high school, said Murguia. “…And all they want to is go to college and give back to our country.”

Murguia sees the 2008 elections as being an opportunity for Latinos to push back by engaging themselves electorally. “We need to get this issue [immigration] off the table–not just for the sake of the economy, but for the sake of the future of our country.”

Brent Wilkes, Augustine Martinez, Alma Morales-Riojas, and Gabriela Lemus discussed the issues of Economic Empowerment, Health, Education, and Government Accountability. Though Murguia’s fellow panelists focused more broadly on the Latino immigrant and non-immigrant community, Lemus pointed out that every single issue discussed is interrelated and interdependent and that ultimately, “…if we do not address the economies of other countries, we will never be able to effectively address immigration in our own.”