President and CEO of National Council of la Raza Janet Murguia (R) speaks to the press after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House, Feb. 5, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
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NCLR’s Janet Murguía blasts Trump: Latinos won’t be ‘a punching bag’

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The head of one of the largest Latino civil rights organizations blasted Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump Tuesday night, condemning his repeated comments on immigrants and Mexico and saying that Latinos will not be a “punching bag,” urging them instead to use the vote to “punch back.”
Janet Murguía, the President and CEO of the National Council of La Raza, took the podium at the NCLR Capital Awards in D.C. While Murguía emphasized that the NCLR is a non-partisan Latino civil rights organization, she denounced what she called Trump’s nativism and demagoguery that “fly in the face of American values.” She said his xenophobia and religious bigotry “might as well have painted a target on [Latinos’] backs.”

“Such rhetoric undermines who we are as a country and the example we set for the rest of the world,” she said. “To our community, we must not stand idly by while others define us. We must define ourselves. We will not be demonized. We will not be a punching bag. And we must use the power of our voice and vote to punch back.”

She continued to say the American Dream is not a fading memory, but alive and well for millions of of people living in the U.S., and can stay alive with NCLR’s voter registration initiatives. The NCLR has partnered with mitú to create an app called Latinos Vote, which aims to register Millennial Hispanics to vote before the November presidential election.

“The most effective way to defend our vision of America is to counter hate with courage and action,” Murguía said. “… We have already demonstrated that the road to the White House runs right through the Latino community. Our voice is stronger than it’s ever been and it will only become stronger.”

The 29th Annual NCLR Capital Awards honored Democrats and Republican legislators for their efforts to pass legislation to benefit Hispanic Americans. Among those who were honored were Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Pat Murray (D-WA), Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY) and Sister Norma Pimentel.

This story originally appeared on NBCNews.com.

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NCLR's Janet Murguía blasts Trump: Latinos won't be 'a punching bag'

Updated