Dallas attorney Domingo Garcia was elected president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization, this past weekend.
Garcia’s win means he now has the task of rebranding an organization that many grass-roots activists have labeled as outdated. LULAC also finds itself trying to repair its image among many Latinos after outgoing president Roger Rocha offered LULAC’s full support to President Donald Trump and his administration’s efforts to substantially reduce legal immigration and to increase border security.
Garcia said he was encouraged by others to run for LULAC’s highest post because of his work on civil rights and immigration reform. He said he hopes his commitment to pro-immigrant policies will restore public confidence in LULAC.
“We’re at a crucial point in history when Latinos are under attack,” Garcia said. “People wanted a national voice that would speak for them in a strong and uniting manner.”
Garcia, who ran unsuccessfully for the same post in 2013, served as a Dallas City Council member from 1991-1995 and was the first Latino elected Mayor Pro Tem in Dallas.
While a member of the Texas House of Representatives, Garcia co-authored a 2001 measure signed into law by then-Gov. Rick Perry that granted unauthorized immigrants in Texas the right to pay in-state tuition at public state universities as long as they graduated from a Texas high school.
Among his plans for the next year are increasing the number of LULAC dues-paying members from about 140,000 to 1 million, making sure LULAC has a council in every state (there are currently 37) and opening a LULAC office in Austin to lobby Texas lawmakers to make decisions that are friendly to Texas’ Hispanic community.
“We’re the biggest Latino organization in the country, but our [membership] is not enough when we have 55 million Latinos,” Garcia said.