Leaders Empower a New Generation at National Conference

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ushli_picNational leaders Jesse Jackson, Senator Ken Salazar, D-Col., Senator and presidential candidate Christopher Dodd D-Conn., and LULAC National President Rosa Rosales were some of the featured speakers at the 25th National Conference of the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute (USHLI).
The conference was held at the Sheraton Hotel in Downtown Chicago from Wed. March 4 to Sunday March 18, 2007 and was attended by approximately 6,000 students, faculty, and professionals alike. The event featured a college fairs, dinners with prominent speakers, and workshops on immigration, business, and education.
Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. representing
the 2nd district in Ill. said that we need to stop staring at Hispanics just because they are Hispanics. His advice to Hispanics was, “I’m not just a Hispanic,” Jackson Jr. said, “I’m an American who happens to be Hispanic.”
A panel with members representing Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Latino labor unions, a national Latina organization and the Congressional Hispanic Institute agreed that there are similarities in what each organization does in security and education.
Alma Morales-Rojas of the Mexican American National Association (MANA) said that as Latinos we take pride in being able to work hard. “Walk up with your head held high.” Rojas said.
Presidential candidate and Senator Christopher Dodd, surprised some in attendance by speaking in Spanish during part of his speech. On the issue of immigration, he said that he wants to reunite families, reduce family separation, reward work, honor tax obligations, and get a path to citizenship. To conclude his speech, he mentioned Cesar Chavez and said, “Si se puede, Si se puede.”
One of only two Latino members in the current senate and ever elected, Senator Ken Salazar mentioned how his family founded the city of Santa Fe over 400 years ago and how the border “came over us.”
“We can’t forget our history or importance.  We share a common language, and a common culture.” Salazar said.
Salazar also spoke on the purchasing power of Latinos.
“There are 45 million Latinos in the United States,” Salazar said, “they spend a trillion dollars a year.”
The most popular workshop was “The Current Immigration Debate Inside and Outside of the Latino Community: The Realities and Misconceptions” with Ms. Ana L. Avendaño of the AFL-CIO and Executive Director of the Program in Law, Economics, and Business at Stanford Law School Dan Siciliano.
Siciliano, being skilled in law at Stanford, taught the attendees how to combat the anti-immigrant arguments. One popular argument against immigration is that the law is the law. To argue Siciliano said,
“How can it be, that people [immigrants] who are pretty good, do good, and then the end result is evil [breaking the law].” Sicilaino said.
For more information on immigration go to www.ailf.org where you can find links on public education for the general public, attorneys, and immigrants to name a few.
A panel titled Building a Black and Latino Alliance around immigration reform with the national president of LULAC, Rosa Rosales, Arturo Vargas of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, Nancy Harvin of the National Coalition on Black and Civic Participation, and the Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition were asked by Phil Ponce of PBS-WTTW whether a solidarity was possible between Latinos and African Americans.
Jesse Jackson said that it makes sense and urged young blacks to speak Spanish and young Latinos to speak English.
“We’ve been trapped; fighting for diminishing jobs,” Jackson said, “there’s a fear that must be addressed.” He said.
Jackson also said that the public perception showing immigrants from Latin America coming into Mexico on film needs to be addressed.
“We must not take pictures of people coming across borders,” Jackson said, “there are people from Cuba, Caribbean, Italy, and Ireland; Latinos should not be seen as the only burden.”

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