LULAC leaders to meet with Iowa Congressmen, attend national conference

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For immediate release

Feb. 12, 2013

DES MOINES - The Iowa League of United Latin American will meet with two of Iowa’s U.S. Congressmen to discuss issues from the proposed immigration reform plan to the issuance of driver’s licenses for all illegal immigrants, as part of the advocacy group’s 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 will meet with U.S. Reps. Bruce Braley and Dave Loebsack, both Democrats. The men hope to also meet with Republican Congressmen Tom Latham and Steve King, along with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, a Democrat who formerly served as Iowa’s governor.

Enriquez Henry said he would like to discuss with Vilsack whether he intends to seek the seat of Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, who has announced he will not seek re-election in 2014.

“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.

Enriquez Henry and Reyes plan to discuss issues that include availability of well-paying jobs, affordable health care access, equality in education and the elimination of poverty. Another important issue to Iowa LULAC is President Barack Obama’s immigration reform package, specifically the requirement that would push so-called illegal immigrants to the back of the line in their journey toward citizenship.

“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 plan to voice 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 media@iowalatinos.org, or visit www.lulaciowa.org.

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