Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 VLLC Working Meeting with the Governor was postponed, as well as other planned civic engagement events this year. Throughout the pandemic, we have been focused on advocating for increased support for our Latino community.
Virginia Latino Forum on Racism and How it is Affecting the Community
On Wednesday, October 2, 2019, the Virginia Latino Leaders Council and the Virginia Coalition of Latino Organizations (VACOLAO) co-hosted the "Virginia Latino Forum on Racism and How it is Affecting the Community", with special guest speaker Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring. The event took place at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington from 10:30 - 1:30. The purpose was for the community to share their thoughts on the anti-immigrant, anti-Latino rhetoric and actions many are experiencing, and for the Attorney General to share how his office is combating this trend.
Forum speakers included Beatriz Amberman, VACOLAO Chair; J. Walter Tejada, VLLC President; Rodrigo Velasquez, Mason DREAMers Advisory Board Member; Elizabeth Jones Valderrama, Executive Director, Offender Aid and Restoration; and Emma Violand Sanchez, Chair, The Dream Project. After the panel, Attorney General Herring shared remarks, noting his strong support for Dreamers and laws which support equal rights and access. He also took questions from the audience at the conclusion of his remarks.
Participants enjoyed lunch, then followed up with an interactive session to share particular experiences with racism and discrimination, and to suggest ways to improve the current situation. Many offered ideas to promote positive interactions with the community at large, including a media campaign to highlight the many contributions of the Latino community.
VLLC 2019 Legislative Dinner
December 17 was the date of the 2019 VLLC Legislative Dinner, held at La Granja de Oro Restaurant in Falls Church. Guests heard from State Delegate Alfonso Lopez and Clair Guthrie Gastanaga, Executive Director of ACLU VA, as well as representatives from Delegates Elizabeth Guzman and Hala Ayala, on possible legislation benefitting immigrants and the Latino Community during the 2020 Virginia General Assembly. Participants were also asked to consider their roles as Latino leaders in supporting these initiatives. Lively conversation ensued, most notably around the issue of Driver's Licenses, and we hope participants left energized to speak out during the upcoming session.
Follow-Up to VLLC Working Meeting with the Governor
On Monday, July 22, 2019, a small group of VLLC Board Members and experts on Latino community issues met in Richmond with representatives from Governor Ralph Northam's office to provide follow-up to the April 8th annual working meeting with the Governor. We spoke with Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran, Secretary of Education Atif Qarni, and other policy advisors. Among the issues for follow-up were driver privilege cards, in-state tuition, Latino college recruitment, wage theft, and the creation of an office of immigrant services. Additional follow-up will be required of State staff, VLLC and other community leaders to continue moving these goals forward. Stay tuned.