Foreign-Born Service Members Exemplify the Best of What It Means to Be American

On Veterans’ Day we honor all of the men and women who have chosen to serve our country by joining the military.  We pause to acknowledge the profound debt owed to those who have fought, sacrificed, and died to protect the United States of America, and to those service members currently defending our nation overseas and at home.

We include in our gratitude those members of the military who, though not born within our borders, demonstrate their love for and commitment to our country by serving in the armed forces.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reported last year that since September 2001, 74,977 members of the military have become U.S. citizens through naturalization ceremonies in places as diverse as Iraq, Afghanistan, El Salvador, and Thailand.  With deep appreciation, NCLR recognizes our foreign-born service members who have decided to pursue the American Dream and their fullest potential as citizens.

We take pride in our veterans and in our servicemen and servicewomen pursuing citizenship.  In 2010 NCLR partnered with Texas Affiliate the Mexican American Unity Council to host a special USCIS naturalization ceremony for several military personnel before the 2010 NCLR Annual Conference.  You can view scenes from that ceremony in this video after the jump.

Thank you to all of our service members who have committed their lives to the defense of the United States of America.  Your selfless example inspires and educates us all on the dedicated and courageous character of American citizenship.

Looking at Health Through the Eyes of Our Youth

Judith Santibanez is one of the youth exhibiting this Saturday.

Growing up in neighborhoods where green spaces are almost nonexistent and food choices amount to bodegas and takeout menus makes eating and living healthy much harder.  Making the conscious decision to live a more balanced lifestyle is certainly commendable, but it only works when the necessary elements are available and accessible.  For too many Latino communities, those elements are not in place and families are forced to choose from unhealthy options that only worsen the burgeoning obesity and diabetes rates among Hispanics, especially our youth.

It’s going to take Latinos working together to ensure that our kids live long, healthy lives.  That’s why we’ve teamed up with Sodexo, ConAgra Foods, and two of our Affiliates, Alivio Medical Center and Gads Hill Center, to present Reflejos de mi comunidad:  comida y estilo de vida (Reflections of My Community:  Food and Lifestyle), a project designed to assess the barriers that prevent low-income, inner-city Latino youth from healthy eating and active living.  The project also aims to engage parents in creating a healthy lifestyle for their whole family.  And we’re starting this weekend!

On Saturday, we’re hosting a community event at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.  We’ll be showcasing a youth photo exhibit that Chicago teens have produced to illustrate the challenges they face in accessing healthy foods.  You’ll have an opportunity to meet some of the students themselves and you’ll get to know more about what we do to improve the health of our Latino youth.

Check out the photos below of some of the other youth who will be exhibiting. Come see the rest on Saturday!

Jessica Hernandez

Mohammed Mohammed

Junior Flores, Eddie Ramirez and “Marie”

Immigration Reform Back on the Table

What a difference an election makes.

The Huffington Post is reporting that Senate Democrats and White House officials will make a push for immigration reform as soon as the president is inaugurated.

From HuffPost:

A Democratic Senate source who spoke on condition of anonymity told The Huffington Post that the full push for reform won’t happen immediately, but will begin soon after Obama starts his second term. The Dream Act, which would give legal status to undocumented young people who came to the U.S. as children, will be included in the efforts, according to the source.

“This isn’t going to happen during lame duck,” the source said.

The Obama administration has been a bit coy on what it views as its list of second-term priorities, with much of the early focus being spent on fiscal and tax policies that will take effect at the end of the year. But one close Obama advisor, not authorized to speak on the issue, said it made eminent political sense to try immigration reform at the top of the second term. And the president himself seemed to preview his intentions of doing just that during an interview with Univision late in his campaign, saying it was among his biggest failures.

There are no concrete details yet as to what a proposal would look like, but this is certainly encouraging news. We’re ready for this fight. We hope you are, too.