2018 National Latino Policy Conference Announced

On behalf of the Latino Center for Leadership Development (LCLD) and in partnership with the Southern Methodist University-Tower Center, the Center for American Progress, George W. Bush Institute, and the Mexican American Legislative Caucus (MALC) we are pleased to announce The Nation at a Crossroads: A National Latino Policy Conference on June 9, 2018 at the Texas State Capitol in Austin, Texas.

With projections demonstrating Latinos emerging as the majority-minority population of the nation by 2050, America’s future rests largely on policy decisions aimed at enhancing, rather than diminishing, this community’s economic and civic potential. In order to provide policymakers, legislative staff, scholars, and key stakeholders insight and answers to pressing topics impacting the Latino community, we will convene a one-day national conference. During this conference, participants will have the opportunity to engage with national experts, state and municipal leadership, as well as local stakeholders to examine issues including:

Content Areas:
 – Strength in Numbers: Gearing up for the 2020 Census
 – Drawing the Line(s): Race, Redistricting, & Representation
 – The State of Voting Rights: Regression or Improvement?
 – From DACA to SB4: The Intersection of Federal and State Immigration Policies
 – Unaccompanied Minors, Detention Centers, and Court Proceedings: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?
 – NAFTA and the Future of U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Relations

Space is limited, we invite you to register early here: Conference Registration

For more information about the conference please visit FB.com/LatinoCLD or to find out how you to sponsor, please contact us at latinoconference@latinocld.com

We hope you can join us!


9:00 a.m. – 9:20 a.m.          Breakfast

9:20 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.           Welcome Remarks & Overview

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.         Strength in Numbers: Gearing up for the 2020 Census

Enacted through the Census Act of 1790, the Decennial Census holds a   significant role in federal and state apportionment and appropriation procedures as well as the political and economic conditions of all communities. Over 300 federal and state programs rely on the data from the Census to allocate over $800 billion dollars across the U.S. Due to a combination of geographic, economic, social, and cultural factors there were over 1.5 million individuals from underrepresented groups not included in the 2010 Census. In Texas alone, approximately $43.3 billion dollars were allotted, but due to statewide undercounts, especially along border and rural areas, nearly $292 million dollars in federal funds were lost across five major programs. If a an undercount persists, projections demonstrate that Texas could potentially lose up to four congressional seats. As the 2020 Census approaches, it remains extremely critical that Latinos, the largest growing population, be accurately counted through inclusive outreach and data collection methods. This panel will offer participants the opportunity to learn more about the benefits and challenges of the 2020 Census, while highlighting strategies to ensure an accurate count of the Latino population through collective efforts.

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Drawing the Line(s): Race, Redistricting, & Representation

The success of redistricting processes across the U.S. will largely be determined not only by the 2020 Census, but also the outcomes of pending litigation surrounding the methods of establishing political jurisdictions. The process of setting federal and state districts is primarily handled by state legislatures with gubernatorial approval, whereas some states call for advisory committees, political commissions, or independent third-parties. Although stakeholder input and power vary by state, the datasets are the same; all states are required by law to use the ‘all population’ counts as identified by the most recent Census, regardless of age, citizenship, or voting eligibility. Over 240 cases have been filed, many questioning the legality of maps to demonstrate proportional representation reflective of the entire district population. Currently, there are open cases in nine states set to review proposed and operating maps, including Texas. This panel will provide an overview of the status of key redistricting cases with a special focus on the pending Texas case.                                       

11:30 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. The State of Voting Rights: Regression or Improvement?

The Voting Rights Act (VRA) of 1965 was enacted to ensure equal access to civic and electoral processes through federal protections for all individuals and oversight of jurisdictions. The VRA prohibits state and local jurisdictions from discriminating against individuals through policies and practices that can have intentional or unintended and disparate impact for certain groups. In 2013, through the landmark case Shelby v. Holder, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a section of the VRA arguing that the criteria or formula to determine preclearance requirements were outdated and not inclusive of demographic and political changes. Since then, many states have proposed and implemented modifications to their electoral procedures, such as cuts to early voting periods and voter ID laws. As a result of the missing preclearance section, estimates demonstrate that approximately 7 million Latinos have been impacted by this change. This panel will provide participants with a brief update on the VRA and delve into how these dynamics have encouraged state leadership, philanthropic partners, and legal scholars to take a more active role in working collectively to ensure accordance with the law.  

12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.    Networking Lunch

1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.       From Enforcement to Integration: The Intersection of Federal and State Immigration Policies  

Policies related to immigration enforcement and integration are within the purview of the federal government, however, recently there’s been a growing role for states and local jurisdictions through implementation, oversight, and coordination. After 30 years of enforcement costs totaling $360 billion dollars and despite a decline in immigration trends, there have been numerous changes to the protections once afforded to various groups matched with an increase in enforcement efforts and spending. With federal immigration reform pending, states are required to lead in public safety and security, workforce regulations, economic stability, data confidentiality, and court proceedings, among other areas. Efforts such as California’s Proposition 187, Arizona’s SB1070, and most recently, Texas’ SB4, continue to regulate the full integration of over 22.5 million undocumented and documented immigrants and their access to services and institutions. This session will provide a legislative update on federal immigration and pending litigation, while highlighting the strategies and lessons learned towards a bipartisan approach for comprehensive and cross-jurisdictional immigration reform.    

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.      Unaccompanied Minors, Detention Centers, & Court Proceedings: Guilty Until Proven Innocent?

A humanitarian crisis was triggered in the U.S. after a 78% rise in unaccompanied minors reached 52,000 entries in 2014. Guided by  the bipartisan Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA), international humanitarian laws, and the Perez v. Funez and Flores v. Session decisions, the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is required to conduct a health and legal assessment within 72-hours of detainment to determine whether minors are ‘safe’ to be released back to country of origin or reunited with family in the U.S., while they are placed in least restrictive settings. Many have been sent back, while thousands are caught in the backlog of procedures and instead placed in solitary confinement, adult prisons, or other types of detention centers without access to legal counsel,  hearing bonds, or mental health support for extended periods of times. There are long-term and immediate economic, legal, and political implications for the U.S. and the local jurisdictions housing detention centers. Moreover, these dynamics pose a threat to the health and safety of the thousands of children caught in the system. This panel will offer insight on the current trends and pending decisions surrounding unaccompanied minors, while highlighting best practices and policy recommendations to better serve these children through proper due process and protections.

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. NAFTA and the Future of U.S.-Mexico Bilateral Relations

Given shifts in federal administration and policy priorities, concerns have emerged related to the stability of U.S. – Mexico relationships and agreements. Federal regulations on commerce and immigration enforcement trickle down to the economic prosperity of states, local jurisdictions, and the the private sector. Most recently, proposals have surfaced in regard to the modernization and renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), with a focus on including new aspects, such as digital trade, intellectual property, and energy, as well as adjusting the tariff systems and border security measures. While some research cites a loss of 700,000 jobs as a result of NAFTA, other reports show a growth of 30 million jobs across private sector competitors. Besides workforce gains, the U.S. has surpassed other countries as a globally-competitive leader due to its economic returns from NAFTA, approximately $611 billion dollars have been exchanged in imports and exports with Mexico, while Texas has the highest trade volume at $174 billion. Scholars, economists, private sector representatives, and policymakers alike have raised concerns of the unintended consequences that can materialize if NAFTA is hastily redrawn or the U.S. withdraws. This panel will offer participants an opportunity to hear from national and state experts on the economic implications that can emerge from NAFTA renegotiations as well as key strategies to maintain a strong and substantive relationship with Mexico.

4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.   Looking Ahead & Closing Remarks