WASHINGTON — A coalition of Hispanic advocacy groups said President Barack Obama and Congress have made progress in the past two years on the needs of the nation's largest minority group, but it also warned that proposals for deep spending cuts could put that forward movement at risk.
The National Hispanic Leadership Agenda gave good marks Wednesday to the administration and Congress on early childhood education, health care reform, programs for veterans and Hispanic businesses, and appointments of record numbers of Latinos to the administration.
On immigration reform and enforcement, the coalition of 30 Hispanic groups said in a progress report that Obama and lawmakers "over promised and under delivered."
Several of those gains have required increased spending, such as those included in 2010 appropriations bills to expand Head Start and Early Start by 70,000 in 2010. One in five children under 5 is Hispanic.
Lillian Rodriguez-Lopez, the coalition's chairwoman, said the groups fear losing ground in upcoming budget debates and spending cuts proposed by a bipartisan supercommittee tasked with slashing the federal budget deficit by more than $1 trillion.
"Deep cuts to programs that have kept families working and in their homes cannot be sacrificed during their negotiations," Rodriguez-Lopez said.
The coalition includes some of the heavyweights among Hispanic advocacy groups, such as the League of United Latin American Citizens, National Council of La Raza and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Political parties already have been sparring over whether the achievements the Obama's administration cites as benefiting Hispanics, such as health care reform, will outweigh Latinos' disappointment over immigration failures and unemployment when it comes time to cast votes in 2012.
The progress report is based on a list of recommendations the coalition made in 2008.
"We said these are our priorities and we will look at these issues to see whether or not you are valuing this community and taking seriously the community's needs and challenges," Rodriguez-Lopez said.
National Hispanic Leadership Agenda: http://www.nationalhispanicleadership.org/