One of the nation's most prominent Latino organizations has a new leader, and he's a familiar face to North Texans.
Domingo Garcia is a former Dallas City Council member, a former state legislator and an almost-congressman. Now, he's taking the helm of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), after his predecessor Roger Rocha quit under pressure after writing a letter that supported President Trump's immigration approach.
He sat down with KERA's Rick Holter for this week's Friday Conversation to talk about leading LULAC at a crucial time.
On how he plans to turn LULAC around
I think it's through leadership. I've already developed and put together a team that is younger, more media-savvy. We're already seeing our numbers increase. We're going after issues and taking them head on... We plan to put pressure on both Republicans and Democrats to finally pass comprehensive education reform, to have additional funding for education. We can spend billions on wars and billions on walls, we can spend billions on our young people to get them into college... Those are some of the things we're looking at in the short term: immigration reform, education reform, and then health care.
On how he plans to increase membership
What we had in the past was, I think LULAC got too complacent, got a little bit too corporate, and they forgot their roots. I want to bring LULAC back to its roots. It's a civil rights organization, and we need to go and fight civil rights battles. I think if people see us standing up and saying, "An injustice against anyone anywhere is wrong, and we're going to stand up there," they're going to see LULAC as that new voice for Latinos — and also mainstream Americans.
On being called one of the worst state legislators by Texas Monthly
I'm very proud of that Texas Monthly award. That was because I ran Latino candidates against incumbents here in Dallas County. Right now, we have three Latino state representatives and more on the way. We just elected the first Latina as a county court of law judge here in Dallas County in 2018. Whenever you knock on doors, whenever you say, 'Hey, we want to be at the table, we don't want to be on the menu,' it is going to rile up the people. It is going to rile up the power structure... Sometimes it takes aggressive advocacy to make a difference. Otherwise, they ignore you or they step on you.
Interview responses have been lightly edited for clarity.