Former President and CEO of NCLR (now UnidosUS) Raul Yzaguirre’s Statement on Being Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom

WASHINGTON, DC— Today, President Joe Biden awarded Raul Yzaguirre—former President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza (now UnidosUS)—the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States.

Former National Council of La Raza (NCLR) President and CEO Raul Yzaguirre issued the following statement:

“I accept this recognition on behalf of the staff at UnidosUS. Their dedication has made it possible for those of us in leadership positions to get recognition that truly belongs to them.

“Reflecting on my lifetime journey, I am proud of the fact that we all continue to be motivated by our desire to make the promise of the American Dream a reality. For too long, Hispanics have been absent from that promise, even though they were historically among the first Americans—as well as the newest Americans—and continue to make enormous contributions to our society and our economy.

“As we look to the future, I am encouraged by how our society is evolving into one that is ever more inclusive while still celebrating what makes us unique. At the same time, I am deeply concerned about the continued racism and anti-immigrant sentiment in our country. As a lifelong advocate for fair and just immigration policies, I am greatly relieved that the Biden administration has prevailed in the Supreme Court, and can now eliminate the unjust ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy.

“And finally, we should not forget that while the road to progress is often measured in years and decades, it continues because of the actions we take today. Our initial 1994 critique of the lack of Latinos within the Smithsonian Institution resulted in the task force report, ‘Willful Neglect: The Smithsonian Institution and U.S. Latinos.’ Those efforts led to the establishment of the Smithsonian Latino Center and now, over a quarter of a century later, to Congressional approval for a Museum of the American Latino on the National Mall. Let us continue these efforts each day as we strive for a more perfect and representative union that I am privileged to be a part of.”