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Open Letter to the President by National Hispanic Organizations

January 8, 2003

The Honorable George W. Bush
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

There is an immediate crisis confronting the Latino youth of our nation. There are currently two cases to be decided by the United States Supreme Court, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. These two cases involve the question of whether race and ethnicity can be considered in the higher education admissions process. Should the Supreme Court rule against the 1978 holding of Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, in which it held it was constitutional for colleges and universities to seek diverse student bodies, the percentage of Latino youth graduating from higher education institutions would drop substantially. Only 11 percent of the 35 million Latinos in the U.S. have obtained a post-secondary education compared to the 28 percent of the 195 million non-Hispanic Whites who hold a Bachelor’s degree or more. This is entirely unacceptable.

Affirmative action transcends all racial barriers and extends beyond central political issues. It is heartily embraced by the Latino community as a fair and equitable business practice. Ending affirmative action would shut the door to the American dream for a vast number of our citizens. It is likely that minorities will become the majority in the first half of this millennium. Can we afford to not educate the citizens who may well be the foundation for our nation’s future? Studies have found that diversity in a post secondary environment improves the education environment for all our students. Continuing Bakke also allows universities to dispense financial aid and other support programs to Latinos once they are accepted at a college or university. Without this vital source of financial support, Latinos will be unable to stay the course, graduate, and become productive members of our society.

This is an incredibly serious crisis that we are facing in our nation. We urge you to keep your commitment to the Latino community and support us in our endeavor to keep in place the modest type of affirmative action allowed by the Bakke decision and before the Supreme Court now.

Respectfully yours,

Alicia Díaz
Cuban American National Council

Antonio Flores
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities

Mari Carmen Aponte
Puerto Rican Federal Affairs Administration

Marisa Demeo
Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

Manuel Mirabal
National Hispanic Legislative Agenda

Frank López
US Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Brent Wilkes
League of United Latin American Citizens

Cecilia Muñoz
National Council of La Raza

Moctesuma Esparza
New America Alliance

Alma Morales Riojas
MANA - A National Latina Organzation

Ivonne Cunarro
National Association of Hispanic Publications

Marisa Rivera-Albert, President
National Hispanic Leadership Institute

Alfred Ramírez
National Community for Latino Leadership

María Perla
Student

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