September 18, 2004

Recently, Alfonso Jackson, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) was honored by the Bush Administration for his small and minority business contracting record. According to HUD's press release dated September 9, 54% of all HUD contracts are going to small businesses and 26% are going to minority firms. This increase in small and minority business is commendable, but when analyzing details only 4% was contracted to Hispanic firms.

"Of the $800 million in minority contracts, African American contractors received 57% and other minorities received 27%," says Leonard Chaires, an officer of the League of Latin American Citizens Chapter #272 in Dallas. LULAC is the nation's largest Hispanic civil rights organization. Hispanics are now the nation's largest minority group but are receiving the smallest share in government contracts. "Once again the Anglos get the Great Dane, the Blacks get the Labrador, and the Mexicans get the Chihuahua," says Chaires.

"As the fastest growing minority group in the country, Hispanics should not be left behind in President Bush's small business agenda," Chaires continues, "It's time to stop the rhetoric and start producing fair results at HUD and other federal agencies. Hispanic groups did not challenge Mr. Jackson's nomination as HUD Secretary when Mel Martinez resigned."

Mel Martinez was the only Hispanic cabinet member in the Bush Administration. "We believed Mr. Jackson would level out the playing field for small business and minorities and this should be good for Hispanics," Chaires continues. Unfortunately, figures published in HUD's news release show that Hispanics are terribly underserved at HUD.

"Hispanics are not only under represented in small business contracts, but also at all levels of HUD employment, and in servicing the Hispanic constituency in housing assistance programs," Chaires continues. Joe Guerrero, President of LULAC Chapter #601 of Fort Worth agrees with Chaires, "The only time the government actively pursues Hispanics is when the Immigration and Naturalization is looking for illegals to deport."

Guerrero continues, "I'm a small business owner and I understand how difficult it is to run a business. We don't need more SBA loans to get us in debt, we need more business. The government should not be discriminating against Hispanic Owned businesses." Chaires adds, "I retired from government and am familiar with equal opportunity and contracting. What HUD is doing is known as disparate impact and that's wrong." Chaires added, "We are tired of unkept promises by both political parties. If Bush or Kerry want the Hispanic vote, they need to stop this campaign year's 'taco politics', and make sure
Hispanics receive a fair share of the government economic pie."

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