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La Raza slams Linda Chavez's appointment as labor secretary

Jan 03 2001

By Santiago Tavara

WASHINGTON DC, United States. (EFE) - Civil rights groups criticized on Tuesday Mexican American Linda Chavez's appointment as secretary of labor by President-elect George W. Bush.Bush and Chavez

National Council of La Raza Vice President Cecilia Muñoz called Chavez's appointment "very concerning" because "she is against civil rights for Latinos and other minorities."

"It seems that Linda Chavez is going to have a lot of problems, judging by her record," Muñoz said.

As director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights 1983-1985 under the administration of former President Ronald Reagan, Chavez "tried to limit the role of the federal government in the application of civil rights," Muñoz said.

She also said that Chavez opposes affirmative action, bilingual education and favors English Only policies to impose English as the country's official language.

"Chavez also opposes the use of bilingual ballots in the elections and is a difficult person not only for the Latino community but also for the civil rights community," Muñoz said.

In her acceptance speech, Chavez vowed to "vigorously enforce the Labor Department's non-discrimination regulations."

She said if she is confirmed by the Senate, she would keep faith with the men and women who still work at jobs like those her parents held. Her father was a house painter and her mother a department-store worker.

Chavez is one of three Hispanics selected by Bush. Mexican American Alberto Gonzales would become White House legal counsel and Cuban American Mel Martinez would become secretary of housing and urban development, pending Senate approval.

Chavez has praised the elimination of bilingual education in California in 1998 based on unofficial statistics showing that minority students have improved their performance in English by attending intensive English-immersion programs.

Arizona voters approved in November a similar initiative, supported by Chavez, and Colorado voters will vote on it in 2002.

Chavez, former president of the organization U.S. English, which promotes the implementation of English as the country's official language, said that teaching a child in his native tongue is ineffective when he lives in a country such as the United States, where English is the prevailing language.

Chavez is the author of "Out of the Barrio: Toward a New Politics of Hispanic Assimilation," and "From Sugar Daddies to Uncle Sam."

She writes for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The New Republic and Reader's Digest.

She has been a regular guest on news programs such as "Nightline," "The McLaughlin Group," "CNN & Co," and "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer."

She was the editor, from 1977 to 1983, of "American Educator," the award-winning quarterly journal of the American Federation of Teachers.

Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, currently sits on the board of directors for several nonprofit organizations and corporations.

She served with the Citizens' Initiative on Race and Ethnicity in 1997-1998, which recommended sanctions against crimes motivated by racism.