Attorney General Eric Holder vows to fight discrimination against Latinos
Holder spoke to the National Council of La Raza about combating discrimination.
By EMILY DERUY
Attorney General Eric Holder promised to fight discrimination and protect the voting rights of Latinos in the United States.
Speaking on Saturday to the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) at their Las Vegas convention, Holder called on the members of the largest national Latino civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States to combat barriers to civic engagement.
“We’re depending on you to help us ensure that -– in our workplaces and military bases; in our housing and lending markets; in our schools and places of worship; at the ballot box and in our immigrant communities -– the rights of everyone in this country are protected,” he said according to a copy of his prepared remarks.
Holder discussed how the Justice Department has opposed recent proposals that could make it difficult for some people, especially Latinos, to vote.
In March, the Justice Department blocked a law in Texas requiring voters to present identification before casting ballots, saying it could discriminate against Latinos. The Obama administration blocked a similar law in South Carolina in December. A trial is scheduled to begin this week to rule on the Texas law.
“In a very real sense, you are now on the front lines of this fight –- the same fight that, more than four decades ago, inspired Herman Gallegos, Dr. Julian Samora, and Dr. Ernesto Galarza to create the Southwest Council of La Raza,” Holder said. “They were united by shared concerns and frustrations, but also by a common vision and a collective optimism.”
He issued something of a warning to Maricopa County Sheriff Arpaio and others who try to mimic the county’s controversial policing practices.
“The Civil Rights Division had no choice but to file suit against Sheriff Arpaio, the Sheriff’s Office, and the County for discriminatory police and incarceration practices that violate the constitutional rights of Latinos in Maricopa County,” he said. “These policies simply have no place in responsible and effective law enforcement. And they must not –- and simply will not -– be tolerated.”
Holder also spoke about being raised in an immigrant family — his father was born in Barbados—and touted the fact that the Justice Department has focused on prosecuting hate crimes and ending discrimination in housing and lending practices.
Toward the beginning of his remarks, Holder quipped that he was happy to be temporarily away from Washington. The House of Representatives voted last week to hold the attorney general in contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents related to the failed Fast and Furious operation. President Obama exercised executive privilege in the case, and the White House recently said Holder will not face criminal prosecution. He has vowed to continue in his role as attorney general.
“President Obama and other members of his Administration, including me, will keep working with Congressional leaders -– from both parties –- to advance the passage of critical legislation like the DREAM Act, and comprehensive immigration reform, in order to bring about fair and lasting updates to our immigration system so that it meets our 21st century economic and national security needs while continuing to honor our rich traditions and diversity,” he said.
Holder is scheduled to deliver a similar speech this afternoon at the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) national convention in Houston.
(Photo: Flickr/Ryan J. Reilly)