The event is held each year in order to foster dialogue and familiarity between Ohio elected leaders and their constituents on the challenges and opportunities facing Ohio Latinos.
“It's an opportunity for Hispanic business owners to have a chance to share with legislators how important Latinos are as an emerging engine for the future of the state,” said Lilleana Cavanaugh, OCHLA executive director. “We know we are an economic power in the state and we know that communities continue to grow and prosper and it's important for legislators to have the opportunity to speak to business owners, chambers of commerce and learn the impact of Latinos in the community to become better and have more economic opportunity.”
Sessions throughout the day will include an information session from Cleveland lawyer David Leopold, a national expert and practicing immigration attorney. He is past national president and general counsel for the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) based in Washington, D.C. He'll speak on President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration and what the temporary relief will mean for Ohio's Latino families.
“That is one of the questions that I think is in every person's mind—what will be the impact of the executive action on immigration and temporary relief?” admitted Ms. Cavanaugh. “Looking forward, we really don't know what the executive action will do, but we do know whatever fashion that takes, we will do our best to work with the state government and the leadership in the communities to ensure that it turns into a positive and we're able to use that as another way to continue to create progress for Ohio. Of course, our hope is that this will happen for the majority of Ohio families impacted by this new situation coming up.”
There also will be an afternoon session on how many Ohio cities are trying to become “welcoming communities” to immigrants and their families. Thomas Wahlrab, who led such an effort in Dayton, will be the main presenter during that session.
Lucas County Commissioners and Toledo City Council recently passed resolutions in support of the Welcome Toledo-Lucas County Initiative, an effort to promote Northwest Ohio as a welcoming and immigrant-friendly community. The effort was established earlier this year with a number of community partners. An information session was held at the Sofia Quintero Art & Cultural Center last month to explain the initiative.
“He will also be making a presentation on the positive impact that 'welcome city' programs have had for cities across Ohio,” said Ms. Cavanaugh. “We have a pretty strong program and we look forward to having a steady flow of legislators, their aides, and other government officials coming throughout the day.”