Latino Community Highlights Issues in their Community with Congressman Emmer
WAITE PARK -- The room was quiet and all eyes were on Republican Representative Tom Emmer, as the organization Asamblea de Derechos Civiles (Assembly of Civil Rights), addressed and shared the struggles the Latino community faces on a daily basis in Central Minnesota.
Asamblea de Derechos Civiles is a faith-based organization that tackles issues affecting the latino community. Today (Sunday) they held a public forum at St. Joseph Catholic Church, with Representative Emmer, who represent Minnesota's 6th congressional district.
Three personal testimonials were shared by members of Asamblea de Derechos Civiles. Blanca Montenegro, a native of Nicaragua, who lives in St. Cloud shared her struggles of being sexually harassed by her manager, but feared speaking up in terms of losing her job.
Fourteen-year-old Denise Rodriguez shared a fear that many of the people in the crowd could relate to; the fear of having family separated or deported. Rodriguez recalled a time being in the car with her mother and getting pulled over.
"When the officer found out, she didn't have a drivers license said Rodriguez, he said, he had to take my mother. I called my uncle and once he got there, the officer told my uncle he's not going to take her because my little sister was with her. He took photos of my mother and said we don't want her to drive again".
As the room sat in awe and listened to the stories, one story that many families already are facing is having to live without their loved ones, who have been deported.
Luz Lopez, a youth leader in the organization shared her story about her mother and little brother being deported.
"Nine months is the time I spent away from my mother and a full year away from my baby brother, says Lopez.
After the testimonials, the audience was given a chance to ask questions to Emmer.
One question that sparked conversation, was Emmer's stance on how he plans to build a relationship with the latino community, after endorsing Republican Presidential Nominee Donald Trump.
"I'm going to build a personal relationship with anyone just like I'm doing today" says Emmer.
Another issue that was brought up was immigration reform and what Emmer will do to help the community.
He responded by saying, "We have an immigration law that many people say is broken. What is broken is the people that have been assigned to it" He went on to say "the reality is we do have a border and an immigration law. we need to look at the laws that don't work, and talk about how we make it work"
Although many were not pleased with some of his responses, they appreciated him coming and listening.
"I don't believe there's any candidate out there that cares about us, that's the truth," says, Lopez.
MaElena Gutierrez, one of the organizers of the event says by the testimonials being shared. Her hope is that Emmer now knows what is happening.
"We showed him with the three testimonials today what is happening in our community. If he doesn't do anything, it's because he doesn't want to says, Gutierrez.
The group says they will not stop being voices for the people in their community. Their next step is to have a national phone conversation with other leaders about immigration reform. They did extend the invite to Emmer and hope he can attend.
Emmer says, he doesn't believe people come to the United States to get by. His hope is to help people build a better life for themselves and their families.