NHLA URGES CONGRESS AND ADMINISTRATION TO TAKE ADDITIONAL ACTION FOR PUERTO RICO RELIEF EFFORTS

Contact: John Garcia, 212-739-7513, jgarcia@latinojustice.org

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda, a coalition of 45 of the nation’s preeminent Latino advocacy organizationsn which includes LatinoJustice, welcomes the relief package passed by the Senate for areas affected by recent natural disasters as a first step on the road to recovery for Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and others trying to recover from the impact of recent unprecedented natural disasters, and calls on the federal government to support further efforts to provide Puerto Rico the support it needs to rebuild.

The relief package provides $36.5 billion to fund hurricane relief, in addition to recovery efforts from recent wildfires, and we urge the president to sign it immediately so those funds can be on their way to the people in desperate need of support from their federal government. However, this is only a first step to address the crisis in Puerto Rico, and NHLA is calling on Congress and the administration to act further in providing aid to Puerto Ricans as they recover in the short term and ultimately enter the process of a long-term, comprehensive rebuilding plan. NHLA will continue to demand that Puerto Rico receive equal treatment throughout the process of aid provision.

“Puerto Rico is experiencing a humanitarian crisis as we have not seen on the island in almost 100 years,” said Juan Cartagena, Co-Chair of NHLA’s Puerto Rico Working Group and President and General Counsel of LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Many communities do not have water, do not have electricity and are running out of food. This is a public health crisis where many people have and will continue to die. This is not the time for debate. The US citizens in Puerto Rico need our help but this relief package is only the beginning of a comprehensive approach to rebuild the Island.”

“What we have seen thus far with the federal government is a clear demonstration of discrimination against our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico. As fellow American citizens, it is their right to receive equal treatment. NHLA provided to Congress and the Administration a ten-point plan of action in order to ensure that Puerto Rico receives just treatment and sufficient aid. The relief package passed by the United States Senate moves toward providing parts of the necessary aid, but we still have a long way to go,” said Hector Sanchez Barba, Chair of NHLA and Executive Director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement.

“Puerto Rico is in urgent need of a 'Marshall Plan' to fix its broken healthcare system, energy grid, economy and infrastructure. The disaster relief package just passed by Congress must be seen and treated as an initial down payment towards fulfilling that mandate. We will not rest until our federal government meets its legal and moral responsibility to provide Puerto Rico and its people with the resources and investments it needs to recover and heal,” said Jose Calderón, Co-Chair of NHLA’s Puerto Rico Working Group and President of Hispanic Federation.

“We are thankful that the House and Senate has heeded NHLA’s call for emergency disaster relief for Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands,” said Brent Wilkes, Treasurer of NHLA and CEO of LULAC. “However we continue to be concerned that Congress and the White House have not reacted as swiftly nor as forcefully as is necessary to alleviate the humanitarian crisis devastating the territories. Congress and the President must do their duty when the lives of US citizens are in jeopardy.”

“We fully agree with Senate Majority Leader McConnell when he said, just prior to voting for this relief package, that this is the first in a series of steps to aid the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and María. In the case of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, the devastation is so vast and the needs so great that a Marshall Plan focusing on infrastructure investment, health care parity, a 21st century energy grid, and economic tools are the only way to save money in the long run for the federal government, and most importantly, address a growing humanitarian crisis that is far from being over,” said the co-Chair of NHLA’s Government Accountability Task Force and Executive Director of the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL), Kenneth Romero-Cruz.

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ABOUT THE NATIONAL HISPANIC LEADERSHIP AGENDA

The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda is composed of 45 of the leading national and regional Latino civil rights and public policy organizations and other elected officials, and prominent Latinos Americans. NHLA coalition members represent the diversity of the Latino community – Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans, and other Latino Americans. NHLA’s mission calls for unity among Latinos around the country to provide the Latino community with greater visibility and a clearer, stronger influence in our country’s affairs. NHLA brings together Latino leaders to establish policy priorities that address, and raise public awareness of, the major issues affecting the Latino community and the nation as a whole. For more information, please visit: www.nationalhispanicleadership.org.

NHLA MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS

Alianza Americas | American G.I. Forum | ASPIRA Association | Avance Inc. | Casa de Esperanza: National Latin@ Network | Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute | Farmworker Justice | GreenLatinos | Hispanic Association of Colleges & Universities | Hispanic Federation | Hispanic National Bar Association | Inter-University Program for Latino Research | Labor Council for Latin American Advancement | LatinoJustice PRLDEF | League of United Latin American Citizens | MANA, A National Latina Organization | Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund | Mi Familia Vota | National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures | National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives | National Association of Hispanic Publications | National Day Laborer Organizing Network | NALEO Educational Fund | National Association of Latino Independent Producers | National Conference of Puerto Rican Women, Inc. | National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators | National Hispanic Council on Aging | National Hispanic Environmental Council | National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts | National Hispanic Media Coalition | National Hispanic Medical Association | National Institute for Latino Policy | National Latina/o Psychological Association | National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health | Presente.org | SER Jobs for Progress National | Southwest Voter Registration Education Project | UnidosUS | United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce | United States Hispanic Leadership Institute | United States-Mexico Chamber of Commerce | U.S.- Mexico Foundation | Voto Latino

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