Over 300 pack White House Hispanic Summit in Ohio

LORAIN, Ohio — I was privileged to take part in the White House Hispanic Summit held at Lorain County Community College on Feb. 18.

The all-day event brought 18 representatives from nine federal departments for round-table discussions on many questions including immigration, jobs, education and entrepreneurship.

We were able to meet and bring forth our issues and concerns and were given the opportunity to speak to the administration to express our needs and what we want to see change, and get information. They took down our ideas. We were also provided with their contact information and are encouraged to contact them for assistance.

This was the 14th such event held by the White House and the first in Ohio. Over 300 people from all over Ohio and nearby states attended. The attendees were local and national business leaders, civil rights leaders, community activists, educators and public officials or their representatives.

U.S. Reps. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, and Dennis Kucinich, D-Cleveland, sat next to one another onstage during the opening session. Kaptur and Kucinich are both vying for the Democratic nomination in the 9th District, which includes Lorain.

Both began brief remarks by addressing the audience in Spanish.

Kaptur said President Barack Obama recognizes the importance of the resurgence of American manufacturing. She said she had never heard a president mention Cleveland and Toledo in his State of the Union address before.

Kucinich said he supported the federal Dream Act, which has not been approved by Congress.

“We have to make sure that we pursue a path that upholds all of us,” he said.

Immigration was definitely the hottest issue and so many participants wanted to discuss it they had to move to a separate breakout room.

Some of the issues raised included immigrant victims of crime being afraid to report them, amnesty for immigrant workers and parents being deported while their U.S. citizen children remained in America

Fred Torres, president of our LCLAA chapter, and I met with representatives of the Occupational Health and Safety Administration and the Labor Department and took part in the discussions on the economy and jobs.

I spoke of unfair trade practices, protecting and keeping jobs, and the need for training in current manufacturing jobs and new technology such as green energy. A representative of the Hispanic Small Business Administration spoke of the need for assistance in training their employees. Social community agencies spoke of their work in helping train and connect Latinos with employers. 

I felt this was a very good event and would like to see this or something similar happen again. The only criticism I have, and shared, is that the discussions were held at tables right next to each other. It was hard to hear and many of the tables had so much interest that people had to sit two and three chairs deep or stood. 

Nellie Caraballo is treasurer of the Northeast Ohio Chapter, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA)