A Latino Agenda is an American Agenda

Celebrating NAHREP familia, cultura, politics, and grassroots action

Qué onda mi gente?!

Brace yourselves: this election is going to be intense. So far this year we’ve had a global pandemic, a record-setting economic crisis, and a racial reckoning after the killing of George Floyd, creating one of the longest periods of unrest in our nation’s history. Everything is being politicized: from reopening schools to wearing a mask in public. Add to all of this a presidential campaign that is now in full swing and everything is about to get un poco loco. Now more than ever we have to be analytical of the information we consume, be reflective and be united around a common agenda.

It is time for us to reflect and act

There’s a famous saying in Washington: Never let a good crisis go to waste. NAHREP CEO Gary Acosta often talks about how the 2008 crisis was one of the best things that happened to NAHREP, in one sense, because it allowed him and the leaders of the organization to assess what was working and what wasn’t. It was then that the organization reorganized itself, concentrated its operations in San Diego and created the board structures we have in play today. The level of reflection and analysis on what was best for the organization could have only been achieved during that moment of crisis.

Today we face another opportunity for reflection: a chance to analyze what is and isn’t working as it relates to the state of the Latino community. Today, our community represents 18.5% of the population, the second largest and fastest growing demographic, and filling in critical parts of the labor force vacated by retiring baby boomers. The future rests squarely on the back of our community, making every Latino issue an American issue. Yet, our level of influence in politics is not entirely reflective of this reality.

It is time we ask ourselves the hard questions: Why has the passage of Comprehensive Immigration Reform not been prioritized? Why are Latinos not top of mind in our political discourse today? Are our policies reflective of the fact that we will carry the economic growth of this country for the foreseeable future? We need to get real with one another and reflect on what needs to change in order to obtain the type of influence we are capable of having.

A Latino Agenda is an American Agenda

I’ve worked in and out of politics for most of my career and I’ve had the opportunity to experience a front row seat to power. I’ve seen what it was like for constituent groups to have significant influence within the structures of government and for other constituent groups to be sidelined. Unfortunately, Latinos are one of those groups that still have not managed to flex their muscle. Powerful groups have a few things in common:

  1. They agree on a common agenda and strategy
  2. They unite and stick together
  3. They take action until their priorities are addressed

Until we band together as a community to advance our agenda first, we will continue to get ignored or see our issues be deprioritized. Family is thick and the differences that divide us as Puerto Ricans and Mexicans and Cubans and Nicaraguans are not greater than the bonds that unite us. If we were to truly take this to heart, and really have each other’s backs as Latinos first, as family… wow. That would be a game changer.

Let’s be clear: NAHREP is a nonpartisan organization. We advocate on behalf of issues that are squarely pro-homeownership and pro-small businesses because they impact Latino economic mobility. We advocate for immigration reform, because it impacts Latino economic mobility. This is why we have to organize, because our message and our organization transcends politics.

We can’t forget that politics is simply a tool, not the end goal. We elect someone into office so that our agenda can become a reality not just to have our party or candidate get elected. We cannot lose sight of our goal and we must continue to hold our elected officials accountable.

So I ask one thing of you NAC familia, we have a lot of power, let’s start acting like it.

About Noerena Limón

Noerena Limón is NAHREP’s Executive Vice President of Public Policy and Industry Relations. Noerena heads the organization’s policy and advocacy efforts on issues ranging from homeownership, housing inventory, credit access and immigration.

Prior to joining NAHREP, Noerena spent six years at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and served as a political appointee under President Obama in the White House Office of Political Affairs.