National Council of La Raza
The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) is America's largest Latino advocacy organization. It advocates in favor of progressive immigration reform policies, including a path to citizenship and reduced deportations.
Founded in 1968, NCLR is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and has regional offices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Phoenix, and San Antonio. NCLR has historically received three-quarters of its funding from private sources, including individuals and corporations, and one-quarter of its funding from the federal government.
In 1963, a group of Mexican Americans in Washington, D.C. formed the National Organization for Mexican American Services (NOMAS). The organization existed primarily to provide technical assistance to Hispanic groups and bring them together under one umbrella. NOMAS presented a proposal to the Ford Foundation to establish an organization that could provide technical assistance and organizational structure to the Mexican American community. The Ford Foundation hired Herman Gallegos, Julian Samora, and Ernesto Galarza to travel the Southwest and make a recommendation on how the Ford Foundation could help Mexican Americans.
Gallegos, Samora and Galarza founded the Southwest Council of La Raza (SWCLR) in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1968. SWCLR was given financial support from the Ford Foundation, the National Council of Churches, and the United Auto Workers, and the organization received 501(c)(3) status later that year.
In 1973, the SWCLR became a national organization, changed its name to the National Council of La Raza, and moved its headquarters to Washington, D.C. Early disagreements among the organization's leadership caused the Ford Foundation to threaten to withhold funding, resulting in President Henry Santiestevan's resignation and the election of Raul Yzaguirre.
Beginning in about 1975, the NCLR began expanding its focus to include the issues of non-Mexican American Latinos. This policy was made official in 1979. By 1980, the NCLR was funded almost entirely by the federal government.
When the Reagan Administration reduced available federal funding, the NCLR cut back the scale of its operations. As a result, the organization began focusing on national policy and concentrating its efforts in Washington, D.C. After the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, state governments exerted more control over the disbursement of welfare funds, which led to the development of the NCLR's Field Advocacy Project to influence decisions at the state and local levels.
Some critics, such as conservative talk radio host George Putnam, call NCLR exclusionary in its approach to civil rights. Republican congressman Charlie Norwood of Georgia's ninth district criticized congressional earmarking of four million dollars for NCLR housing initiatives. Anti-immigration websites, such as American Patrol and The American Resistance, accuse NCLR of encouraging illegal immigration to the United States.
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