Air Force Orders New Review Into Racial, Ethnic Disparities
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image of the military solder and a helicopter in the background

The Air Force inspector general will do a second investigation into racial and ethnic disparities across the force, service leaders said Friday, expanding the review to include gender and additional racial categories such as Asian and American Indian.

The latest review comes just two months after the IG released a report concluding that Black service members in the Air Force are far more likely to be investigated, arrested, face disciplinary actions and be discharged for misconduct. The December report found that “racial disparity exists” for Black service members but that the data did not explain why it happens.

The new study also reflects broader campaigns within the Defense Department and the Biden administration to root out extremism and racism. President Joe Biden declared domestic extremism an urgent national security threat in the wake of the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The crowd that breached the building as lawmakers were preparing to certify the election was overwhelmingly white and included members of far-right groups.

Acting Air Force Secretary John Roth, who ordered the latest review, said the IG will go directly to Air Force and Space Force service members for input. A survey that will go out to the force soon will look at several different categories: Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, and gender.

Read the full article at HuffPost.

Republican Jason Miyares makes history as Virginia’s first Latino attorney general
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Republican Jason Miyares makes history as Virginia's first Latino attorney general

By , NBC News

Republican Jason Miyares, the son of a Cuban refugee, defeated the Democratic incumbent to become Virginia’s first Latino attorney general and the first Hispanic elected statewide.

Miyares was officially declared the winner on Wednesday afternoon by NBC News after a very tight race.

Miyares had rooted his campaign in his mother’s flight from Cuba in 1965, saying often on the campaign trail that it was where his story started.

He congratulated his mom in a victory statement late Tuesday night. “Mom, you did well.” She arrived from Cuba 56 years ago “with nothing but a dream, a dream for a better life for her family,” he said.

“Now I stand here today — elected to be the attorney general of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Miyares said, referring to himself as the “first-ever son of an immigrant and the first Latino elected statewide in the Commonwealth’s history.”

With the win, Miyares, a Virginia House delegate and former prosecutor, denied Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring a third term.

Miyares’ win was part of the Republican victory in the state, with GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin defeating Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Miyares had made history as the first Cuban American elected to Virginia’s General Assembly, in 2015. He represented the 82nd District in the House, which is about 83 percent white, 10.3 percent Black, 3.3 percent Asian and 5.3 percent Hispanic.

Miyares took a hard line on law enforcement issues, including attempts at police reforms. But the campaign was mired by Miyares’ attempts to tie Herring to allegations of misconduct by the state parole board, even though Herring has no power over the parole board’s decisions.

“On Day one, we’ll work toward a safe and secure Virginia and ending the criminal first, victim last mindset,” he stated. “Virginia has spoken. We want safe streets, we want our police to be well trained and supported in the community and we want the rule of law respected. I intend on delivering on my campaign promises.”

Democrats had hoped to be the first to elect a Latino to a statewide position, but Hala Ayala lost her bid for lieutenant governor to Winsome Sears, who is the first woman and first Black woman elected to the post.

Ayala, who identifies as Afro Latina, had already made history in 2017 when she was one of the first two Latinas elected to the state House of Delegates.

The other Latina elected that year, Elizabeth Guzman, won her House of Delegates race in District 31 Tuesday. Alfonso Lopez, also won his race in District 49.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Transgender women elected to Mexican Congress call for progress
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By Christine Murray Thomson Reuters Foundation

In a first for Mexico, two transgender women are preparing to sit in the lower house of Congress, with both vowing to push for affirmative action in Latin America’s second-largest economy. More than 100 LGBTQ candidates took part in the June 6 elections, which saw the highest mid-term turnout in more than two decades, according to the electoral authority INE.

Mexico’s first trans Congresswomen, Maria Clemente Garcia and Salma Luevano, are both from President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s governing Morena party, which took power in 2018, promising to give priority to the poor. “There’s really a lot of poverty … extreme poverty within our trans population,” Ms. Luevano, an activist who also owns a beauty salon in the central state of Aguascalientes, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “I’ll take this fight proudly … for our people who are vulnerable.”

Mexico’s Chamber of Deputies has 500 members, 300 of whom are directly elected, while the remaining 200 are assigned through proportional representation, which means they are allocated to parties based on their share of the national vote.

Ms. Garcia and Ms. Luevano, who will take two of the proportionally assigned seats when the new Congress opens in September, said they intended to work for LGBTQ rights. More than half of Mexico’s 32 states recognize gay marriage, and the nation’s top court has ruled that trans people have a legal right to change their gender identity on official documents.

But access to those rights is uneven and dozens are killed in hate crimes each year as gay and trans people still face prejudice in the predominantly Catholic country where religious groups often criticize LGBTQ rights. Ms. Luevano, director of a collective called Together for the Way of Diversity, said she went into activism after she was detained by police more than three decades ago for dressing in feminine clothes.

“Thirty years have passed and we still have the same discrimination, we still have the same fight,” she said. Ms. Luevano’s nonprofit helped push for new electoral rules this year that introduce minimum numbers of candidates from under-represented groups, including LGBTQ people.

Ms. Garcia said her appointment to Congress gave voice to Mexico’s LGBTQ minority and she intends to push for tax breaks for companies that hire LGBTQ staff to improve diversity in the private sector as well. “It’s an achievement, it’s a step forward, it’s a symbol,” said Ms. Garcia, who has also been a long-time activist in Mexico City.

Ms. Garcia also aims to amend the first article of Mexico’s constitution, which outlaws discrimination based on “sexual preference.” “It’s a concept that no international organization has used for 30 years,” she said, adding that she would like to see the terms “sexual orientation and gender identity and expression” used instead.

Ms. Garcia said she would also fight to defend the budget of CONAPRED, Mexico’s public anti-discrimination body, which has been slashed by Mr. Lopez Obrador, even though she agreed with him that it needed reform.

Click here to read the full article on CS Monitor.

Rhode Island’s Nellie Gorbea becomes first Latina in New England to run for governor
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Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea before giving the oath of office to state representatives at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence, R.I.,

By Nicole Acevedo, NBC News

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is running to become the state’s next governor in 2022. Gorbea, a Democrat, is the first Latina to run for governor in New England. If she wins, Gorbea would also be the first Puerto Rican governor in the mainland. Gorbea, 53, is no stranger to making history in public office. In 2015, she became the first Hispanic elected to statewide office in New England when she became secretary of state. She was re-elected to the position in 2018, and her term ends next year.

“Yes, they elected the first Latina statewide official, but almost more important than that is that I performed, that I delivered on what they hoped I would do,” Gorbea told NBC News. “Many of them came up to me and encourage me to run for governor.”

Gorbea said that as secretary of state, she modernized Rhode Island’s elections infrastructure, increased cybersecurity measures and brought both online and automated voter registration to the state. She has developed online resources and reduced red tape to make it easier for small businesses to start and grow.

“It’s being able to deliver an election during a pandemic where everybody who was eligible to vote could vote in a safe and secure manner, or having record numbers of businesses incorporate during the year of the pandemic, because we had already prepared ourselves with online systems and training to make sure that we could do that,” Gorbea said.

“Rhode Island, like a lot of the country, is at a crossroads. We need to elect people into office that are willing to rethink how we’re doing government and make it, deliver it to the people,” she said.

Gorbea is entering a crowded Democratic primary race that’s expected to include the incumbent, Gov. Daniel McKee; General Treasurer Seth Magaziner; and Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. Dr. Luis Daniel Muñoz, an independent, has already announced that he will run as a Democrat, The Boston Globe reported.

McKee, a former lieutenant governor, replaced Gina Raimondo as governor in March when she became secretary of commerce in the Biden administration.

When asked how she plans to stand out in what’s anticipated to be a packed race, Gorbea confidently responded, “I am the only candidate who’s actually transformed an agency of government in Rhode Island, and that’s something that nobody else has done.”

Gorbea said some of her constituents approach her, even when she’s out grocery shopping with her mask on, to thank her for how well the 2020 election went amid the pandemic and for providing more online resources to make it easier to start or maintain a small business.

Additionally, Gorbea overhauled lobbying laws to hold special interests accountable when they don’t follow the law, ensure better compliance so the public can see who is influencing their government and enhance transparency.

“What comes next is a turning point in the history of the state and in the history of our country because we need to build things in a fundamentally different way,” Gorbea said. “The government structures that were created in the ’80s and ’90s are not going to help us handle our cyber challenges” — an issue that rose to prominence this month when Colonial Pipeline, the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., was forced to shut down operations after one of the most disruptive cyberattacks in U.S. history.

Click here to read the full article on NBC News.

Latino Democrats push for Hispanic recognition in military base Renamings
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U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego answering questions at a hearing

Latino members of Congress are pushing for a U.S. Army base to be named after a Latino military hero and for a greater recognition of the role of Hispanics in the nation’s defense.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and several members of the House Armed Services Committee sent a letter April 12 to the commission tasked with removing Confederate names from military bases and other Department of Defense properties.

In the letter, provided to NBC News, they urged the commission to “develop new criteria” that increases chances of honoring enlisted service members as well as officers, and recognizes the diversity and demographics of a base’s community.

Many military installations are named for high-ranking officers, including those who served in the Confederate army.

Historic discrimination and exclusion have kept Latinos from rising in the military ranks and kept the numbers of Latino officers low, meaning there’s little chance of a base being named for a Hispanic, according to the letter signed by Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., and Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas, along with others.

“Latinos have fought and died in every single American war since our nation’s independence, yet too often our community’s service and sacrifice has been overlooked,” Castro said.

Castro’s office said that the current criteria essentially emphasizes honoring senior officers, as has been the practice. That tends to mean more white service members would be honored. But Castro, who is from San Antonio which has several military bases, and Gallego, a military veteran, say enlisted service members tend to be more diverse and deserve to be honored too if they have performed heroic or honorable acts. They called for the military’s diversity to be reflected, and said for names of facilities also to reflect the communities where they are located.

“U.S. Army bases should not be named after traitors who rose in rebellion against the United States and attempted to destroy that same U.S. Army in the field,” Gallego said. “We should instead honor the people who upheld their oaths to the Constitution through brave and honorable service to the United States.”

The members also supported the renaming of Fort Hood after Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez who was awarded the Medal of Honor in 1981 by then-President Ronald Reagan for heroic actions to save several wounded comrades in Vietnam.

“MSG Benavidez was a Texas Native and Mexican-American Vietnam War veteran who grew up experiencing the discrimination of Jim Crow,” the letter said, “MSG Benavidez is an extraordinary example of the determination, skill, and courage that Latino Americans in uniform have exemplified for generations.”

The lawmakers pointed out that renaming Fort Hood after a Latino service member “would be a symbolic step forward” after the slaying of Spc. Vanessa Guillén at the base.

Photo Credit: Leah Millis-Pool/Getty Images

Continue on to NBC News to Read the Full Article 

US Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visits Houston after raising millions for Texas relief
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U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has raised millions of dollars in relief money for Texas relief organizations that are working to help those still in need after suffering from the historic winter storm.

The New York lawmaker appeared Saturday at the Houston Food Bank to help distribute supplies and food.

Ocasio-Cortez’s effort is in partnership with 12 Texas organizations getting on-the-ground relief to residents.

She set up the donation website to where contributions will be split evenly between the following the organizations: South Texas Food Bank, Food Bank of West Central Texas, ECHO (Ending Community Homelessness Coalition), Feeding Texas, Corazon Ministries, Family Eldercare, Houston Food Bank, Food Bank of the Rio Grande Valley, North Texas Food Bank, Central Texas Food Bank, Southeast Texas Food Bank, and The Bridge Homeless Recovery Center.

“These groups are working around the clock to assist houseless, hungry and senior Texans in Travis and Dallas County, and beyond,” the website states.

Ocasio-Cortez hasn’t been the only leader stepping up to the plate. Astros’ Alex Bregman will be hosting a water distribution event Saturday to help those who have been without water for days.

Read the original article at  ABC 7.

Alejandro Mayorkas Confirmed As First Immigrant, Latino To Head Homeland Security
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Alejandro Mayorkas during a speech wearing a black suit

The Senate voted to confirm Alejandro Mayorkas as the secretary of Homeland Security, putting a department veteran at the helm of the Biden administration’s plans to reverse hard-line policies implemented by former president Donald Trump.

KEY FACTS

Born in Cuba and raised in California, Mayorkas is the first Latino and immigrant to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

The confirmation comes as President Joe Biden seeks to undo four years of a “zero tolerance” approach toward immigration under the Trump administration.

Mayorkas was confirmed 56-43, mostly along party lines. He was the first Biden nominee to face a filibuster from Republicans, which the Senate voted to break on Thursday.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Biden administration is expected on Tuesday evening to announce a Homeland Security Department task force aimed at reuniting migrant children who have been separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border.

KEY BACKGROUND

Mayorkas will grapple with a Homeland Security Department that has been plagued by high turnover in leadership positions and vacancies. A Senate-confirmed appointee has not led the department since Trump pushed Kirstjen Nielsen out in 2019. Mayorkas will also face domestic security threats that have come to light following the Jan. 6 insurrection led by Trump supporters at the U.S. Capitol. In a memo released last week, the Department of Homeland Security warned “ideologically-motivated violent extremists” could “continue to mobilize or incite violence.”

CHIEF CRITIC

Several Republican senators lambasted Mayorkas ahead of the confirmation hearing, raising alarm about his time as the director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. A 2015 DHS Inspector General Report found that Mayorkas appeared to give politically powerful individuals special access to an investor visa program. “I’ve voted for several of President Biden’s mainstream cabinet nominees,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wrote on Twitter early Tuesday. “But his choice to run Homeland Security was blasted by the Obama Administration’s own Inspector General for running an immigration law favor factory for powerful Democrats. Bad pick with major ethics issues.”

Read the original article at Forbes.

Latino Inaugural 2021 celebrates the resilience and power of U.S. Latinos ahead of Biden’s inauguration
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Latino Inaugural 2021 poster Biden and Harris

By Brittany Valentine for Al Dia News

To commemorate the upcoming Inauguration of the Biden-Harris administration, the Hispanic Federation has brought together more than 50 Latino organizations to support the historic event.

“Latino Inaugural 2021: Inheritance, Resilience & Promise” is part of the official five-day slate of programming from the Biden-Harris Presidential Inauguration Committee.

Latino Inaugural 2021 is an hour-long special that will

(Image Credit – latinoinaugural.org)

feature musical performances and inspirational docu-shorts to uplift the Latino community and portray all the contributions they have made in this country.

Actress and activist, Eva Longoria Bastón is set to host the event, and many more big stars will make appearances, including Becky G, Ivy Queen, Rita Moreno, and Edward James Olmos.

There is also an impressive list of musical performances.

Lin-Manuel and Luis Miranda will perform a touching tribute to Puerto Rico, All-Star Tejanos United will perform “America The Beautiful,” and Gaby Moreno and David Garza will perform “Fronteras.”

Much like the “Momento Latino” televised event that aired on CBS in October, this special is focused on telling the stories of Latino excellence, resilience and strength. It will honor members of Latino communities who kept the country running smoothly during the pandemic as members of the frontline essential workforce.

In addition to the celebrity guests and musical performances, several political figures will be in attendance. Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, Robert Menendez and Ben Ray Luján, Senator designate Alex Padilla and Chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, Rep. Raul Ruiz will join the special to add to the messages of hope, unity and gratitude.

Henry R. Muñoz III, founder of Momento Latino and executive producer of the program, expressed his excitement at welcoming the new administration..

“Latino communities face existential threats every day – from the disproportionate spread of COVID-19 through our communities, to the requirement that we work essential jobs without essential benefits, to the fear of our democracy falling apart and the constant threat of deportation and family separation. We are gathering to celebrate Latinos’ contributions & our power in the country and to honor the next era of American leadership in President Biden and Vice President Harris,” he said.

The program is co-hosted by 52 of the country’s largest and most influential Latino organizations, including Voto Latino, She Se Puede, Justice for Migrant Women and the Dolores Huerta Foundation. Some of the sponsors include DoorDash, Telemundo, Comcast NBCUniversal, Microsoft and Primo TV.

Read the full article at Al Dia News.

Alex Padilla, California’s First Latino Senator, on Needing to ‘Walk and Chew Gum’ in Washington
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Alex Padilla wearing a black suit sitting down speaking into a microphone

By The New York Times

He was appointed to fill Kamala Harris’s seat and will take office as his state struggles with record Covid rates, especially in the neighborhood he grew up in.

As Kamala Harris steps into her role as vice president and out of her Senate office this week, the Democrat Alex Padilla will become the first Latino senator from California, a state where Latino residents make up 40 percent of the population, and will be one of six in the Senate. Mr. Padilla, who has been California’s secretary of state since 2015, is heading to Washington at a time when the country — and California — is deeply mired in the pandemic and a sluggish vaccine rollout. His own political career began with

(Image Credit -Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

immigration activism, and he believes that the country needs a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. He said he was confident that the Senate would be able to focus on an impeachment trial and the pressing need to get the pandemic under control — “we will walk and chew gum at the same time.”

These are lightly edited excerpts from the conversation.

California is roughly 40 percent Latino, yet you’re the first Latino senator from the state. Why do you think that took so long? What does it say about California and the political influence of Latinos?

I don’t know if I have a 170-year answer to that question, but it’s a big moment for the Latino community in California. I’m sure there’s a lot of researchers and academics with various theories. I just know that it has just added to the sense of urgency with which I’m prepared to tackle the job.

A lot of big issues need attention — increasing access to health care, combating climate change, a comprehensive immigration reform, closing the education gap. But for the time being, it’s all through the lens of Covid, in recognition of the devastation the damage has caused for far too many families, far too many communities, especially Latino communities and other communities of color.

Let’s talk about the pandemic. Los Angeles is currently an epicenter of the pandemic, and Pacoima, the neighborhood you grew up in, is an epicenter of that epicenter. What can the Senate do about that?

Read the full article at The New York Times.

Congressional Hispanic Caucus urges Congress to vote on national Latino museum in spending bill
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“The lack of full Latino representation,” Latino lawmakers wrote, “has created real blind spots that neglect the role Latinos have played.”

Supporters of the National Museum of the American Latino are making another attempt to get Congress to pass a bill to establish its creation. Republican Sen. Mike Lee of Utah blocked voice votes to create a Latino museum and a women’s history museum last week, spoiling years of effort.

The Congressional Hispanic Caucus sent a letter Monday to House and Senate leaders urging them to include the

                                                                       (Image credit – NBC News)

National Museum of the American Latino Act, HR 2420, in the $1.4 trillion spending bill that Congress is trying to agree on to prevent a government shutdown. The act only starts the process for the museum, which must include a feasibility study, private fundraising and site location studies.

“Latinos have contributed significantly to America’s success while overcoming systemic discrimination, and our stories have been largely erased from U.S. history,” said Rep. Joaquín Castro, D-Texas, who is completing his term as caucus chairman. “The fact that Mike Lee, a United States senator, has no knowledge of the Latino experience further demonstrates the need for a Latino museum.”

Read the full article at NBC News.

Gov. Baker Taps Dalila Argaez Wendlandt for Supreme Judicial Court
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Judge Dalia Argaez Wendlandt

Gov. Charlie Baker on Tuesday nominated Appeals Court Associate Justice Dalila Argaez Wendlandt to a seat on the Supreme Judicial Court, paving the way for her to become the first Latina to serve on the high court bench.

In a press conference, Baker highlighted Wendlandt’s thoughtfulness, collegiality and judiciousness in tapping her for the seat, one of two on the court Baker has been deliberating over.

“The judges and lawyers with whom we spoke uniformly support Judge Wendlandt,” Baker said. “She’s the total package. She’s patient, even-keeled and down-to-earth.

“Her fellow justices know they can depend on her and have said that her decisions are true to the law and the facts of each case and demonstrate her open-minded approach to the issues.”

The move comes days after Baker nominated Associate Justice Kimberly Budd as its next chief justice.

Along with the associate justice seat that Budd will vacate if she is confirmed, Baker also has to fill the seat that will open later this year with Judge Barbara Lenk’s retirement. Doing so will mean Baker has appointed all seven justices of the top court, if his nominees are confirmed.

Baker said the court has indicated that its members would like to Baker to fill the two seats by the end of the year, which the governor said he would try to do.

Baker appointed Wendlandt to the Appeals Court bench in 2017 to fill the seat that opened up with Elspeth Cypher’s elevation to the SJC. A New Orleans native and the daughter of Colombian immigrants, Wendlandt graduated from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at MIT before attending Stanford University Law School.

Wendlandt thanked her parents for giving her the opportunities she has had, saying she hoped to make them proud with her role on the court.

The Governor’s Council, which will vet Wendlandt for the SJC post, unanimously confirmed her for the Appeals Court.

Before becoming a judge, Wendlandt was a partner in the intellectual property litigation group at Ropes & Gray LLP. She clerked for Judge John Walker Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit after graduating law school in 1996.

Last Thursday, Baker repeatedly highlighted Budd’s ability to listen to others and collaborate as he nominated her for for chief justice, paving the way for her to

“More than ever, we need her leadership,” Baker said, noting that her nomination comes amid a pandemic as well as ongoing calls for racial justice. “This court needs to led by someone who listens.”

Continue on to NBC Boston to read the full article

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Boston Globe

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Upcoming Events

  1. City Career Fair
    January 19, 2022 - November 4, 2022
  2. The Small Business Expo–Multiple Event Dates
    February 17, 2022 - December 1, 2022
  3. CSUN Center on Disabilities 2022 Conference
    March 13, 2022 - March 18, 2022