White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, President Bush’s nominee for attorney general, got the backing of a group that promotes driver’s licenses for illegal aliens, no immigration law enforcement by local and state police and amnesty programs broader than the administration’s proposal.
The National Council of La Raza, which bills itself as the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S., welcomed the nomination of Gonzales to succeed John Ashcroft.
“We are very encouraged by the Gonzales nomination,” said the glowing endorsement by La Raza. “We previously criticized the Bush administration for not having an Hispanic in the cabinet since the departure of former HUD Secretary, now Senator-elect, Mel Martinez. We are pleased that one of the first acts since the president’s re-election both rectifies that situation and marks an historic milestone for the Latino community. Never before has a Hispanic served as head of one of the four major Cabinet posts – secretary of State, Treasury, Defense and attorney general,” said Janet Murguia, NCLR executive director and chief operating officer.
But it wasn’t just the historical breakthrough that thrilled La Raza. It was also the fact that he is one of their own.
“Alberto Gonzales served with distinction on the board of directors of one of NCLR’s oldest and most respected affiliates, the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans in Houston, Texas,” she said. “Moreover, during his tenure as White House counsel, he has been one of the most accessible members of the White House staff to NCLR and other Hispanic organizations.”
Murguia concluded, “We acknowledge that this is the first step of a long confirmation process that requires that his record be fully examined. That being said, Gonzales is a thoughtful, reasonable public servant, a man of his word, and we have every expectation that his nomination will be very well received in the Latino community.”
La Raza supports legislation such as the Civil Liberties Restoration Act, which would roll back policies adopted after Sept. 11 designed to protect national security. It supports the “DREAM Act,” which would mandate states to offer in-state tuition rates to illegal aliens – thus providing them with benefits not available to U.S. citizens from other states.
The group opposes the “Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act of 2003” and the “Homeland Security Enhancement Act” would give state and local police officers the authority to enforce federal immigration laws.
“While the safety and security of our communities and our country are of the utmost importance, new policies that would allow local police departments to enforce federal civil immigration law will hinder terrorist and other criminal investigations, and have a serious negative impact on Latino communities,” La Raza explains.
The group also supports legislation to ensure illegal immigrants’ ability to obtain driver’s licenses.