Tue, Jul. 08, 2008
By DAVE MONTGOMERYMcClatchy Newspapers
WASHINGTON — A leading Hispanic organization is demanding assurances from the two major presidential candidates that they’ll push for comprehensive immigration revisions and dramatically increase Hispanic representation in the federal government.
Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are scheduled to appear today at the 79th annual convention of the League of United Latin American Citizens as part of the candidates’ continuing effort to bolster their support among Hispanics, the nation’s fastest-growing minority. More than 9 million Hispanics are expected to vote in the November general election.
Leaders of LULAC said Monday that they plan to press McCain and Obama on their positions on several issues that are important to Hispanics.
LULAC, the nation’s oldest and largest Hispanic organization, with 115,000 members, insists that the next president urge Congress to pass comprehensive immigration legislation that would create a guest-worker program and put millions of illegal immigrants on the path to citizenship.
LULAC leaders say they’ll also insist that Obama and McCain, the presumptive presidential nominees, promise to reverse decades of inadequate representation by Hispanics in the federal work force.
Hispanics make up 15 percent to 16 percent of the population but hold a little more than 7 percent of federal jobs.
McCain, an Arizona senator, worked with Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., to fashion broad immigration legislation that included the legalization and guest-worker provisions sought by LULAC and other groups. Obama, an Illinois senator, has supported similar measures during repeated — and unsuccessful — Senate debates on immigration over the past two years.
LULAC President Rosa Rosales of San Antonio said, however, that she doesn’t think that the two candidates "have been very specific" in explaining their stands on immigration as they head into the November election. McCain, in particular, has troubled immigration advocates by stressing border security over legalization for immigrants in recent months.
Rosales said she wants the candidates to give LULAC delegates "a clear answer" on immigration during their appearances today.
McCain is scheduled to address a LULAC diversity luncheon. Obama will follow several hours later in a town-hall setting billed as "an open dialogue with Obama."