Hispanic Advocates in Chicago for Convention

Sophia Tareen, AP, July 27, 2009

The head of one of the largest Hispanic advocacy groups in the country said Monday that she fears hate rhetoric directed toward Hispanics and immigrants is on the rise partly in response to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor.

Janet Murguia, CEO and president of the National Council of La Raza, told The Associated Press that comments that she considers derisive from anti-immigrant rights groups and right-wing pundits might be gaining traction.

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She pointed specifically to talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and groups such as the Minutemen, which calls for tighter restrictions on the nation’s borders. A handful of members from the Minutemen’s Illinois affiliate protested La Raza’s four-day conference.

Murguia said Sotomayor–who has been a member of La Raza–was unfairly labeled a racist and that the dialogue around her confirmation hearings has been hateful.

Murguia also contends the lack of a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year is contributing to the harsh rhetoric. But she remained optimistic that a bill could be signed by next year.

La Raza, named for a Spanish term meaning “the people,” held large voter registration drives for the 2008 presidential election. A former leader of the group was recruited by the White House to become its director of intergovernmental affairs.

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