07/21/2010 02:27 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Standing Tall With 2,500 of Our Closest Friends

I just got back from the White House, where I watched President Obama sign the banking reform bill, and I reflected on what it means for all Americans, but especially what a significant victory it is for Hispanics and other minorities pursuing the American Dream.

The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is a refreshing change that will give the public and honest lenders a level playing field. The new law responds to the needs of consumers from all walks of life. From corporate investors buying derivatives to workers sending money home to family members abroad, this new law will bring a new level of honest dealing that benefits us all.

Of the growing NCLR leadership network, nearly 2,500 members signed petitions and sent emails to their congressional members on this issue. Hundreds of others made calls to Capitol Hill or participated in strategy sessions to see what they could do to further this important cause. We are proud to be numbered among those who fought to raise the bar of accountability in the banking and lending industry. This was indeed a great triumph as the financial industry spent $1.3 million a day on lobbying in 2009 alone.

This financial overhaul is the boldest step taken in nearly 75 years to improve consumer rights. The financial crisis may have triggered an urgent response from our leaders, but the Latino community has long awaited fair dealing in the lending market. Latino borrowers have paid more than their white counterparts for nearly every type of credit, regardless of their creditworthiness.

That's why we welcome these improvements for our families. One such change is the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The CFPB will put into place the strongest consumer protections we have ever had. This new bureau will raise banking standards, increase oversight and accountability, and enforce neglected laws protecting civil and consumer rights.

The new law responds to the crises of yesterday and lays the groundwork for a more sound financial market. Under the new law, consumers will benefit from financial planning that is provided by community-based organizations. They will gain greater access to safe and affordable bank accounts and credit. Going forward, those who send money abroad to their loved ones will be able to do so with an assurance that their money will arrive safely and as promised. Neighborhoods ravaged by foreclosures and homeowners still looking for work will also get some relief from a new injection of federal resources into foreclosure prevention programs.

In the weeks ahead, NCLR will continue to circulate information about what the new law means.

Many will downplay the accomplishment this legislation represents, but the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act establishes a firm foundation for banking and lending well into the 21st century. We are proud to have worked with congressional champions, our Affiliates, and other leaders in our network who made this change a reality for millions.

Cross-posted at the NCLR Blog