LAVISH LA RAZA SEND-OFF: Hundreds of people gathered on April 27 for a gala honoring Raśl Yzaguirre, who retired after more than 30 years as head of the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). In attendance were members of Congress, corporate presidents, lobbyists, and other glitterati, who all agreed that Mr. Yzaguirre's hard work paid off not just for NCLR, but for Hispanics in general. Sandy Butler White, vice-president of the Business Women's Network, a Washington-based public affairs group that lobbies for diversity in the work place, recalled how Mr. Yzaguirre "shook things up" when he first arrived on the Washington political scene. "I remember many years ago when he came to a meeting as a brash, assertive, self-defined Hispanic man who said there would be a place for him at the table. Serape and all, he was there. I think anything that is in the vanguard of change always requires those assertive leaders who are willing to create discomfort so that we might have discourse." Under Mr. Yzaguirre's direction, NCLR grew into an organization whose budget and assets surpass $118 million. The group recently purchased a seven-story, state-of-the-art building near the White House in the capital city's lobbying corridor, cementing its place as a major player in Washington politics. "My dream has always been to have at least one institution in the Latino community that had real staying power, that had a constituency, that had the ability to make a difference, and I think we have that," Mr. Yzaguirre said at the gala.
JOB NUMBERS: Hispanic workers comprised almost half of all new jobs created last year in the United States, but are the only group of workers that experienced a wage decline for the last two years, according to a report by the Washington-based Pew Hispanic Center. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and the U.S. Census Bureau, the study, "Latino Labor Report, 2004," found that Hispanic workers accounted for more than one million of the 2.5 million new jobs created by the U.S. economy in 2004. However, the majority of new jobs obtained by Hispanic workers were low-wage occupations, and that on average, these workers earn 5 percent less than in 2003. The report also found that recently arrived Hispanic immigrants are the largest source of new workers.
PASSPORT REVIEW:President George W. Bush has ordered a review of a new plan to tighten entry rules at the borders, saying a Department of Homeland Security proposal which would require by 2008 that all U.S. citizens returning from travel to anywhere in Mexico, Canada, Panama, and the Caribbean carry a passport could "disrupt the honest flow of traffic," and that more flexibility should be exercised. "When I first read that in the newspaper about the need to have passports, particularly the day crossings that take place, about a million for instance in the state of Texas, I said, 'what's going on here?'" Mr. Bush said during a question-and-answer period after a keynote speech at the Association of Newspaper Executives convention. Currently, only 20 percent of U.S. citizens hold valid passports.
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