WASHINGTON — The angry members of League of United Latin American Citizens, the nation’s oldest Latino civil rights organization, say they aren’t waiting for their president to resign, they’ve begun the process to impeach him.
“Longhorn LULAC #4799 calls upon the National Board to schedule an impeachment hearing on the grounds found in the Constitution, Bylaws and Protocol of the League of United Latin American Citizens,” the LULAC council at University of Texas Austin said in a letter Thursday to the board that it sent out on Twitter.
LULAC President Roger Rocha has been under fire for writing a letter on the organization’s letterhead to President Donald Trump.
In it, he gave the group’s backing to the harsh immigration demands Trump has offered in exchange for a path to legalization for 1.8 million immigrants who came or stayed in the U.S. without legal permission as children.
There have been calls for Rocha to resign, but the president has dug in his heels, telling The Associated Press and Latino USA he will not. Although he spoke to NBC Latino earlier this week and said he’d retract his letter, Rocha did not return calls from NBC Latino Thursday afternoon.
In his interview with Latino USA, Rocha said he was trying to keep a dialogue going with his Jan. 28 letter. He said would not have written the letter if he had heard Trump’s State of the Union address delivered Tuesday. Rocha did not address his letter's contradictions to the resolutions voted on by LULAC.
“There are a lot of things on the table still that we have to address. And I think when the record is set straight as to why my intentions were about sending out a letter, I think people will actually step back and realize and say, ‘Oh, wait a minute,’ Rocha told Latino USA.
But LULAC members aren’t waiting for him to make the decision on whether he stays or goes.
LULAC’s impeachment process requires that “charges” be filed and sent to the treasurer. A hearing then be must scheduled for the next board meeting, which is Feb. 16-17. Notably, that meeting follows the board’s annual legislative conference and awards gala in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 14. Rocha would have the right to have an attorney at the meeting.
LULAC's board called a meeting for Saturday afternoon, which will be held by phone to discuss the issue with Rocha. The impeachment hearing could not take place there.
Joe Enriquez Henry, national vice president of the Midwest for LULAC, told NBC Latino he has been working on impeachment “charges,” which had been requested by members and LULAC leaders.
“We are looking at that seriously right now,” said Henry, who is based in Iowa. A pertinent section of the constitution is one that requires the president to uphold LULAC’s polices, customs and resolutions as “duly passed.”
Henry said that he and others also are trying to assemble the national executive committee, made up of the national vice president, regional vice presidents, treasurer and past president, to discuss impeachment charges.
"What they see in Roger is what they have seen before in the work environment and elsewhere ... They see him as a bully," Henry said. "They see him as Trumpster and they want us to take care of it right away. The community does not want another Trump."
Rocha also must stand for re-election in July when LULAC holds its national convention in Phoenix.
Laura Moese, state director of Ohio, said she and others had asked Henry to look into impeachment.
"This goes to the core of what we stand for. This organization and civil rights has gone hand-in-hand and anything that affects our community our DACA students. LULAC has always been protective and has always been for supporting civil rights," Moese said.
LULAC had adopted resolutions contrary to Trump’s immigration proposals which the White House has put into a “framework” for legislation for Congress’ immigration negotiations.
LULAC’s membership backed a “Clean Dream Act,” one that called for a pathway to citizenship for about 1.8 million people. LULAC supported passage of such a bill without any border or immigration measures attached.
The organization has also opposed Trump’s demand for a border wall, for a reduction in family-based visas and elimination of the diversity visa lottery, all items he wants in exchange for the path to citizenship for Dreamers.
But In his Jan. 28 letter to Trump, Rocha said that the four “pillars” Trump outlined “are items that LULAC can support.” He went on to encourage Trump to “stay engaged in what you have proposed in order to prevent other variations from being introduced by Congress.”
LULAC leaders and members say Rocha’s endorsement contradicts the resolutions and positions taken by LULAC, which are voted on by its National Assembly, made up of members.
Rocha has said he would retract the letter and told AP and others he’s done so, but Henry said he’s had no evidence of a retraction. Rocha also has not apologized as some members have requested.
His letter has been used by members of Congress to show there is support for Trump's views on immigration in the Latino community. Groups that oppose legalization for Dreamers and want to stop immigration with tougher measures than Trump has proposed have portrayed Rocha's decision to retract the letter as him "caving" to liberal amnesty groups.
Behind the scenes, some LULAC members are supporting Rocha and tyring to ease the retribution for his letter.