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Hispanic Affairs Commission reaching out to community
Part One of Two Parts

By Kevin Milliken, La Prensa Correspondent

While children chased small balls in the gym and families munched on pizza, five members of Toledo’s Hispanic Affairs Commission [HAC] manned a table at the Believe Center, encouraging Latino adults to fill out comment cards with their community concerns.


The effort centered on partnering with another organization’s event where there already would be a crowd from the Latino community. Dozens of young families had gathered for the Believe Center’s annual Easter egg hunt and Family Resource Day, held Saturday, March 10, 2018.


Josh Flores

One of the biggest issues for commission president Josh Flores is seeing the Border Patrol on South Broadway and even right outside Waite High School in East Toledo, where he teaches Spanish and where approximately 35 percent of the student population is Latino. The sudden visibility of ICE agents in Toledo neighborhoods is unsettling at best, terrifying at worst.

In fact, the HAC leader was blunt about seeing federal immigration agents in strategic locations, directly and angrily calling it racial profiling.

Profiling Latinos, especially with everything going on in terms of the administration and the White House right now, is causing a lot of things to come back and rear its ugly head,” he said. “This profiling thing—it’s a tough job for the police, but at the same time they need to understand that when you’re serving the community, you’re there to serve the community.”

Flores is unsure whether the presence of federal immigration agents is an outgrowth of the recent community policing agreement signed by the top brass at the Toledo Police Department and leaders from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC). But speculation would warrant that with improved relations between local authorities and the Latino community, ICE may be on its own in the hunt for undocumented immigrants.

“That’s a good question. But when you have Border Patrol in heavily-populated Latino areas, I don’t think that’s by chance,” he said. “I definitely think that there’s some kind of purpose, so I’m not going to say I don’t understand why they’re there. At the same time, it is a sense of profiling. You’re marking people based on their ethnicity and where they live. Personally, I think that’s unjust.”

If nothing else, the HAC can raise its collective voice to bring what it feels is injustice to public light. The Border Patrol’s increased presence in Toledo is one of those situations.

“What kind of message is being sent that people can’t even feel safe in their own communities because they have to worry about that kind of stuff,” he said. “I feel that in this present administration, the environment that’s being created throughout the country is exactly that: a culture of fear. So people who are here to simply have a better life, better opportunities for their family are now forced into the shadows and not given the same opportunities as every other immigrant who ever came here. This is the land of opportunity and they shouldn’t have to live in fear. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what it is right now.”

The commission also can organize and sponsor events to encourage the Latino community to address issues on the grassroots level, if it so chooses. The mid-term Congressional elections in November could be a key time for voter registration and get-out-the-vote efforts if legislative agendas fail at the federal level in the coming weeks.

“There’s a huge need for a clean DREAM Act. We need to do something with the DACA recipients. We need to provide a path (to citizenship),” said Flores. “But unfortunately, the only way we can affect that is by letting our legislators know what our opinions are on that and they need to act. If they don’t act, then come November, they’re going to be voted out. That’s the only voice that we have.”

Those comments and concerns may be reflective of what could happen to both the Board of Community Relations and the Youth Commission. Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz wants to merge the two advisory boards and put those issues under one umbrella with a single director.

But there is mounting opposition within the minority communities to the mayor’s proposal and HAC and others plan to make their voices heard loud and clear at a public hearing before Toledo City Council on Tuesday, March 20, 2018, 6 p.m. In addition, any are unhappy about the prospect of Linda Alvarado-Arce, BCR executive director, losing her job in such a merger.

The public is invited to attend.

The Believe Center appearance is the second outreach event the commission has held, which has a goal of quarterly public input. The group set up shop at the East Toledo Family Center with a stand-alone event, but that effort drew few people. So the commission will attach its efforts to popular community events with good attendance in order to get plenty of feedback.


Copyright © 1989 to 2018 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 03/13/18 20:29:21 -0800.




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