The Iowa League of United Latin American advocacy group made a trip to the national LULAC Legislative Conference on Feb. 13 and 14 in Washington, D.C.
Iowa LULAC State Director Joe Enriquez Henry and Deputy Director Mike Reyes meet with Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, U.S. Reps. Bruce Braley , Dave Loebsack, and with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a Democrat who formerly served as Iowa’s governor. Republican Congressmen Tom Latham and Steve King were not available.
“We want to use this opportunity to share concerns we have with our elected officials and to make sure they realize the services our community needs and will continue to need in the future given the rapidly growing rate of our population,” Enriquez Henry said.
The Latino population in Iowa increased almost 84 percent from the 2000 U.S. Census to more than 158,000 residents, or 5 percent of Iowa’s 3 million residents as of 2011, according to the State Data Center of Iowa.
“I am really concerned the immigration reform plan does not provide some sort of amnesty to all illegal immigrants,” Enriquez Henry said. “We can’t allow up to 11 million people to wait for years for citizenship. Some cases could take up to 20 years for the person to become a citizen.”
Enriquez Henry and Reyes also voiced their support in favor of issuing driver’s licenses to all immigrants regardless of citizenship status. This is a topic Iowa LULAC leaders and members of other Latino advocacy groups plan to discuss with legislators at the Iowa Statehouse, as well.
Each year, the annual conference gives LULAC members from across the country the chance to meet with members of Congress and agency leaders. Among this year’s topics are comprehensive immigration reform, disparities in health care, education and technology.
Founded in 1929, the League of United Latin American Citizens is the oldest Latino civil rights organization in the United States. There are more than 880 local LULAC councils, which hold voter registration drives, provide awareness to residents about language and immigration issues, sponsor programs and advocate for Latinos.
For more information, contact Joe Enriquez Henry at 515.208.7312; or Melissa Walker at 515.681.7731 or [email protected], or visit www.lulaciowa.org.