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Obama Needs to Woo Hispanics, La Raza Chief Says

President Barack Obama has a job to do convincing Hispanics if he hopes to win their vote in 2012, because he has not kept his promise of immigration reform, the leader of the National Council of La Raza, Janet Murguia, said Tuesday.

“Many in our community are disillusioned about the promise they heard at our conference three years ago, where the president promised to make reform a priority,” Murguia told Efe after a press conference at which the topics to be discussed at the annual NCLR conference next week were announced.

“There’s no doubt that our community’s support (for Obama) has dwindled, but I think he can come here and convince many of us that he is still committed to carrying out immigration reform,” she said.

Obama took part in the NCLR meeting as a presidential candidate in 2008, and the White House has confirmed his participation in this year’s gathering, set for July 23-26.

For Murguia, the NCLR conferece, which will attract at least 25,000 people from all walks of life, will serve as a “platform” for Obama to inform the Hispanic community directly about the projects he has in mind for the rest of his term in office.

“There’s a lot of frustration and bad feeling in our community, and the president has to say what it is he has done, where he has made progress, and what he still has to do to keep his promise,” the activist said.

During the press conference, Murguia said that the NCLR Annual Conference will take place at “a critical moment” for a Hispanic community affected by the weak economy and other social problems that are particularly hard on the country’s largest and fastest-growing minority.

The roughly 50 million Hispanics in the United States represent 16 percent of the population.

Despite the many success stories in the community, as a group it has higher unemployment, a lower high-school graduation rate and less access to health care.

The meeting will therefore open a dialogue to find solutions for problems affecting Hispanics, including immigration, unemployment, mortgage foreclosures and the disparities in access to health care.

The conference will include workshops on jobs, health and general information focused on families, as part of the National Latino Family Expo, Murguia said.

Taking part in this year’s meeting will be celebrities like actress Eva Longoria, businesswoman and journalist Arianna Huffington, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez, Labor Secretary Hilda Solis and dozens of members of Congress.


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