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Ohio Legislative Day features Regional Hispanic Chambers

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent

Latino business and agency leaders from across the state will convene in Columbus on Wed., December 3, 2014 for the annual Ohio Hispanic Legislative Day at the Ohio Statehouse Atrium.

The Ohio Commission on Hispanic/Latino Affairs (OCHLA) is hosting the event, with sponsorship from many of the Latino chambers of commerce across the state. The theme for the day is “Hispanics in Ohio: An Emerging Engine for the Future.” Events will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. that day.

Lilleana Cavanaugh

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.”

Attorney José C. Feliciano Sr.

Cleveland attorney José C. Feliciano, Sr., will deliver the keynote address. He is the founder and chairman of the Hispanic Roundtable of Greater Cleveland. Feliciano also is former chairman of the Hispanic Leadership Development Program and founder of the Hispanic Community Forum. Feliciano also helped to found the Ohio Hispanic Bar Association and past general counsel for the Spanish-American Committee. He was awarded one of Greater Cleveland's top honors Nov. 20, when he received the 60th annual Humanitarian Award from the Diversity Center of Northeast Ohio.

Feliciano stated he will discuss the state of Latinos today. He explained his belief that there has been “progress both economically and politically.”

José C. Feliciano Sr.

“It’s a call to action to my own community in terms of standing up and speaking up, at times when it’s difficult,” he said. “It’s also reaching up and reaching out to the broader community where we can’t do things alone. My message to the broader community is how we can fulfill the blessings of freedom for everybody. That is what America is all about.”

Feliciano explained that he will reflect on the Hispanic Roundtable, an organization that follows the old proverb of teaching someone to fish for a lifetime, rather than just giving them fish.

Participants will have an opportunity to meet with legislators, as well as attend other workshops on civic engagement and current issues. Last year's event drew more than 250 participants. The OCHLA executive director stated the Kasich administration already has been friendly to the Latino community in the governor's first term.

“There have already been many actions put in place by the state government to make sure there's inclusion of minorities and Hispanics,” she said. “For example, the MBE and EDGE programs where the governor has made it a mandate for us to seek out the opportunities to do business with minority-owned businesses. So already there is a lot in place to include minorities and make sure they have an opportunity to participate in the economic process of the state.”

State representatives Dan Ramos and Rick Perales have already committed to attend the legislative day, but OCHLA officials could not give an exact count of the legislators who will attend the day's events.

“This is an opportunity for Latinos to share their voices and educate legislators about what matters to them,” said Ms. Cavanaugh. “It's important that we get as many of our leaders as possible on that day.”

Copyright © 1989 to 2014 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/02/14 20:14:04 -0800.




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