Latino "Empowerment" Group El Concilio Says It Won`t Be Stopped By Congress...We`ll Just See About That!
January 21, 2006, 04:00 AM
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So I was doing a little research for a completely different column when I stumbled upon this particularly irksome quote.

It was from an article in the Tri-Valley Herald [Helping illegal immigrants a crime under House bill by Lucia Graves January 15, 2006] about legislation passed by the U.S. House that would make criminals out of those who aid and abet illegal immigration.

Asked for a reaction, Jose Rodriguez, executive director of what is described as "the Stockton-based Latino empowerment group El Concilio," had this to say:

" `We`re not going to stop doing what we`re doing just because some members of Congress want to pound their chests and say they`re tough on immigration.` " (Email Rodriguez here)

At first, I was fascinated by the "Latino empowerment  group" designation…which is to say, I was trying to figure out what it is exactly. 

Hmm…what would happen if we changed the word Latino to White??

Oh! That`s atrocious! You racists! You supremacists!  Society has no place for…wait, did you say Latino? Oh, that`s ok then.

Speaking of hypocrisy…

Then, after reading Mr. Rodriguez`s comment, I felt compelled to take a closer look at his "empowerment group."

El Concilio: El Concilio Para Los Hispanos-Hablantes [website and email]

(From what I understand, this means council for the Spanish speaking…or something like that.)

According to its website, El Concilio was started 38 years ago with a $10,000 grant from…"the Catholic Diocese." 

Speaking of the separation of Church and state

According to the published 2004-2005 Annual Report, the non-profit behemoth Catholic Charities received roughly $18.6 million in government funding. 

Oh…and that`s just the Los Angeles diocese. [Full PDF report here]

(The Departments of Homeland Security, Labor and State all contributed generously to the Catholic Church…Catholic Charities…which confuses me a bit—but that will have to hold for another column.)

So then, what is the El Concilio Organization and what does it do?

According to its website, its function is "to aid the migrant workers [read: illegal aliens] with immigration and social welfare issues."

The NCLR (National Council of La Raza) logo is proudly displayed on the masthead.  Frankly, nothing else really needs to be said about El Concilio…

But I`ll say it anyway.

You might remember that Joe Guzzardi spent a little time with the folks at El Concilio back during his bid for Governor. (Joe`s Campaign Diary Here)

Before he met with the group, La Voz newspaper labeled Joe as "anti-immigrant."  This would be wholly inconsequential were it not for the fact that Concilio owns and produces La Voz.

Yep, these cats have their own newspaper…and it gets worse.

They offer:

  • "Family Services: Assistance for social security, small claims, emergency protective orders, unlawful detainer (evictions), employment, housing and translation of legal/personal documents.

  • "FIRST OFFENDERS DUI PROGRAM (WET/RECKLESS)
    Participants in this program are referred to El Concilio by the courts."

(There is also a Repeat Offender Program.)

  • "HEALTH ACCESS AND ITS COLLABORATIVE PARTNERS"

And this is super! El Concilio actually received a county grant to help migrant farm workers. Specifically:

"This program assists those who need to visit the County Hospital for appointments and supportive services, but do not have the means or ability to reach these appointments. Vans provide transportation along designated and non-designated routes."

There`s more:

  • "IMMIGRATION SERVICES
    (they help with the "adjustment of status" process)

  • "LATINO MENTAL HEALTH BEHAVIORAL WELLNESS PROGRAM

This is another gem…this program is for Latinos who "have life circumstances that have created barriers to work."

Ok, I couldn`t help but envision this scenario:

Applicant: "I suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has become a barrier to employment!"

Concilio Employee: "How did this happen?"

Applicant: "I walked across the desert from Guadalajara to Phoenix in 120 degree heat just to find a job in America and it was terrifying…it stressed me out.  Now I`m here and I can`t work…but I understand there is some assistance available…?"

  • "LA VOZ NEWSPAPER"
     

The Central Valley`s only Spanish-language newspaper, it began in March 2002 and helps Hispanics by providing health information…and attacking people like Joe.

Now we have come to my two favorite "services" provided by El Concilio:

1.     "Vendor Pay"

2.     "Community Trust Credit Union"

What is "Vendor Pay"? Apparently, part of the CalWorks Program:

"This program provides payments for clients` housing, utilities and cash grant where appropriate. While a client is in Vendor Pay, we assume responsibility for paying their monthly rent, utilities and pay them the remainder of their cash grant when appropriate."

I found nothing at the California Government website on this program so it must be a local project.  In any event, I have a hard time with all these services being provided by El Concilio to Latinos…and Latinos only.

Basically, all the services the English-speaking world must pay for (and pay through the nose at times) the Latino community gets for free. 

(Not a happy thought when you consider that "free" these days really means "at taxpayers expense.")

This brings me to…El Concilio has its own Credit Union!!

Interestingly enough, the Credit Union membership application does not ask for proof of citizenship…which must be such a relief to El Concilio`s clients.

In fact, the application for membership [here] actually includes the following language just for illegal aliens who want to get around such technicalities.

Such applicants are instructed to check a box next to this:

"I/we am not a U.S. person or a U.S. resident alien. Cross out the Tax I.D statement above and complete a W-8 BEN form."

According to the IRS, the W-8 BEN form is used to establish that the applicant is not a US citizen and that the financial institution will therefore withhold 30% of any interest earned on their accounts.

[IRS W-8 BEN info here]

That`s it…the credit union requires nothing else for an illegal alien to open checking/savings accounts.  They can also apply for credit cards and home mortgages.

Oh, I almost forgot. The credit union`s rates for wiring money via Western Union back to Mexico are apparently, really cheap…how surprising.

If there is any single organization that meets the definition of criminal aiding and abetting, it`s El Concilio. It`s the Treason Lobby personified.

Let us pray that HR passes so that we can once and for all define and penalize the act of aiding and abetting.

Hmm…Rodriguez said he wasn`t going to stop just because "Congress wants to pound its chest…" i.e. pass laws. And I think that is just swell.

Maybe El Concilio will be the first test case.

I can`t wait.

Bryanna Bevens [email her] is a political consultant and former chief of staff for a member of the California State Assembly.