Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Latino Votes are Important: La Raza in Miami Headlines Clinton & Obama

NCLR's Annual Conference is the largest gathering of its kind in the Hispanic community, serving as the meeting ground for over 20,000 community organization leaders, activists, and volunteers; elected and appointed officials; members of the corporate, philanthropic, and academic communities; senior citizens; college students; and youth.

¡Hazte Ciudadano! ¡ya es hora!

LAURA WIDES-MUNOZ reports that Hillary Clinton and Barak Obama will headline the National Council of La Raza's conference in Miami next week.

The annual event will draw thousands of Hispanic students, business leaders, community organizers and officials for four days of educational forums and fun.

La Raza will launch a national campaign with Univision to register Hispanics to vote in the 2008 election.

'We want to show that the Latino vote is important, that Latino voter turnout can make the difference,' said Janet Murguia, NCLR president.

Organizations such as NCLR and Univision have helped Hispanics obtain U.S. citizenship and registered them to vote. This year marks the first time these and other groups are working together in a nationwide push. Univision will air campaign ads on its national and radio networks, local affiliates and the Internet.

NCLR will focus its voter drive in 11 key states: Florida, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, North Carolina and Texas. The mix includes states with large, established Hispanic communities and those with growing Hispanic populations that could swing the 2008 election.

The NCLR effort comes as naturalizations are skyrocketing. In May 2006, 74,583 people applied for U.S. citizenship, according to the Department of Homeland Security. That number rose more than 50 percent to 115,175 by May, with Mexicans representing the largest group.

NCLR attributes the jump to fee increases taking effect this month and concern over anti-Hispanic rhetoric in the immigration debate.

Democrats hope the new citizens will choose their party over the Republican Party. Many Republicans opposed last month's Senate bill because it gave illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

Several Florida Republican leaders, including Gov. Charlie Crist, will attend. GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain of Arizona are invited, but the group had yet to confirm whether they would attend.

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