Latino Groups Play Key Role on Hill
Virtual Veto Power in Immigration Debate
By Krissah Williams and Jonathan Weisman
When Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) declared last week that unnamed "stakeholders" would decide whether Congress overhauls immigration law this year, Latino organizations in Washington understood exactly what he meant.
After laboring in obscurity for decades, groups such as the National Council of La Raza, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and the National Immigration Forum are virtually being granted veto power over perhaps the biggest domestic issue coming before Congress this year. Organizations that represent what is now the nation's largest minority group are beginning to achieve power commensurate with their numbers.
And, of course, "The Race" and the rest want to increase the numbers of Latinos inside the borders that they putatively represent, since the vast Census figures for Latinos represent these lobbies main source of power. What's actually in the best interests of current Latino citizens is of far less interest to them since these organizations are less beholden to their supposed constituents than they are to outside organizations like the Ford Foundation. In reality, Latinos are ambivalent about illegal immigration, politically apathetic, and not very organized. But their vast numbers allow their self-appointed leaders to claim to be important.
Because these leaders are treated as important people in