Salt Lake Community College recently hosted an event that reinforced its effort to serve all areas of the community.
Bringing together students, faculty, high school undergraduates and members of the general public, the Latinx panel discussion Oct. 9 promised to answer some questions that seem to always be in the back of most Latinos’ minds. The event was part of the college’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.
“This panel discussion is important because these stories need to be heard. They symbolize courage, hope, and a united community,” says SLCC student Thalia Tran. “During these hard times, we need to know we are not alone and cannot be divided. In addition, it is a way for the youth of this day to understand that we also have a voice.”
The panel included Alonso Reyna Rivarola, director of the Dream Center at the University of Utah, who grew up an undocumented immigrant from Peru; Mayara Guadalupe Robles, community organizer who immigrated from Mexico when she was eleven; Alvaro Martinez, Jr., SLCC Student Association president and Mexican immigrant; State Sen. Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake City, raised in Mexico; and Jose V. Borjon, head consul of Mexico responsible for the state of Utah and western Wyoming.
The community had a lot of questions for the panel. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), illegal status, civic involvement, Latinx pride, and the status of families separated at the border were some of the more popular topics.
Escamilla spoke of her efforts to create a better environment to minorities from the time a child is born. She stressed that the government should be helping mothers from day one, giving them a chance to raise their children in a safe and fair space from the moment they come into the world and not from the time they start kindergarten. It is her belief that by the time children of minorities start at that level, they are already behind.
The panel was adamant on the importance of standing up for equal rights. They spoke of how the Latinx community needs to voice their concerns and injustices and use their character to be productive and initiate change.
Robles spoke of how standing up and rallying up others can make an enormous difference, and that SLCC offers various opportunities for all students to get involved. She urged all present to find out more about Comunidades Unidas, a group that specializes in aiding immigrants and people in need of help.
Comunidades Unidas was at the event to help with voter registration, because many that are impacted by laws cannot vote.
“It is essential to know that your vote counts, and that together we can achieve adequate representation in our Latinx communities and many other benefits,” says Tran, who volunteers with the organization.
Martinez grew emotional when speaking of the power ordinary people have to stimulate change, and when sharing his personal stories and attachment to the cause.
“Create change and empower others,” says Martinez.
The Latinx community strives for equality, for fair treatment, a change in immigrant laws and behaviors towards immigrants and refugees, and better representation; among other things.
There was a common consensus that the way things are going in government is not acceptable.
Borjon explained that until there is fair representation of the population in PTAs, city councils, senates, and other government bodies, it will be nearly impossible to adhere to the Latinx population’s needs.
His advice is to “be active as a community.”
People that can vote were encouraged to do so, in order to start this change and help with equal representation. The problem seems to be that many that make up the community cannot vote.
The panel hopes that better laws will change this issue, so countless illegal-status immigrants can stop living in fear of whatever will come next.
This meeting was open to all, and there was an amazing turnout. They hope to have another panel discussion soon.
SLCC will host other events for Hispanic Heritage Month, including Dia de los Muertos festivities. Browse our event calendar for more information.