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Federal officials hold immigration hearing, engage Houston Latino community

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Members of the community gathered at Houston City Hall for a rare chance to speak directly with federal officials and voice their concern on the impact of comprehensive immigration reform locally.

The hearing comes at a critical time for immigration reform supporters. After the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration bill more than a month ago, the legislation has stalled as House Republicans work on another version. Many lawmakers will use the August break to hear from their constituents on the explosive topic.

“I went to the event to show our local federal lawmakers that despite the gridlock in Congress, comprehensive immigration reform is still a forefront issue for Houston due to the diversity of our community,” said Mario Salinas President of Latino Giving Houston, a philanthropy nonprofit.

The opportunity to speak with five congressman (Sheila Jackson lee, Al Green, Joaquin Castro, Mark Veasly, Gene Green) simultaneously drew a large number of comprehensive immigration reform supporters. An overflow room in the annex was set up to accommodate more people.

“Not everyone has had the opportunity (to talk with lawmakers). Immigration reform can benefit those that need it like the DREAMers,” said Roxana Leon, a student at the University of Houston.

While the event was well attended, Roxana was not aware that the event took place but felt such a hearing was needed because of the language barrier that exists for some in the Latino community.
In additional to members of the community, local Latino activists and leaders showed up in force to the event.

“Events such as these are opportunities to express our concerns, support and opinions to those that are tasked with representing us at the federal level,” said Salinas.

FIEL Houston, a local nonprofit that helps DREAMers, helped to coordinate the event.

President of FIEL, Cesar Espinosa, was able to reach out to many Latinos through social media an email list and other resources.

Espinosa beliefs that getting the Latino voice heard can make a difference in the future of tomorrow.

“We are the majority of immigrants and we have to take charge of our own future,” said Espinosa.



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