NEW ORLEANS - January 24 - ACORN community leaders viewed Tuesday’s State of the Union address by President Bush with mixed feelings. While the president’s speech gave some hopeful words on immigration reform, it was largely overshadowed by his disturbing silence on Katrina relief and fair wages that particularly struck a chord with ACORN.
“A year and a half after Hurricane Katrina, the President still doesn’t have a word to say about when or if he will keep his promises to help rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast,’’ said Vanessa Guerringer, co-chairwoman of New Orleans ACORN Lower 9 th Ward Chapter. “Does he intend to help the hundreds of thousands of Americans still scattered around the country to return and rebuild their homes, lives, and communities?
"ACORN is still fighting FEMA to get them to do what the law requires in helping evacuees, and the President doesn’t even seem to remember the promises he made about rebuilding. It should make all Americans wonder how “secure” they are in the face of a disaster or emergency,'' Guerringer said.
Alicia Russell, an ACORN leader in Arizona who worked on ballot initiatives to increase her state’s minimum wage, took issue with his failure to mention living wages. “One thing that makes a job ‘good’ is getting paid enough to take care of your family,” Russell said. “ACORN members who have campaigned for fair pay have seen widespread support across the nation. But the President didn’t say a word about the upcoming vote on a long-overdue minimum wage increase. ACORN members would have liked to hear him support a bill increasing the minimum wage to help working poor families without special interest amendments bogging it down.”
“The President's words are encouraging, but the devil is in the details,’’ said Brenda Muniz, ACORN Legislative Director. “Until we hear and see specifics, we cannot say whether or not we would support his proposal. We do expect both the House and Senate to do a better job than last session and to pass meaningful comprehensive immigration reform that includes a path to citizenship for all qualifying immigrants regardless of the length of time they have been in the country.”