Dina and Michael Ferrer
were the conference directors.
One of the new features at the conference was a panel of medical
and health experts,
which gave participants a chance to ask a variety of
Participants also were able to obtain free health screenings for
diabetes, prostate cancer,
and glaucoma, among other maladies.
The immigration reform panel discussed the continued political
fallout from the inaction of US Congress, which could have a
lasting impact at the ballot box during the 2014 election cycle,
considered by many to be a key Congressional midterm voter
referendum on gridlock in the nation’s capital.
However, the panel explored and discussed new strategies,
approaches and ideas that may be used to resolve the issue. One
of those is President Barack Obama’s deferred action program,
immigrants who came to the U.S. without documentation as
children received a two-year administrative reprieve from
deportation. Those same immigrants can now apply to renew their
deferred action status for another two years.
The immigration reform panel included Lorain Police Chief
Celestino Rivera, well-known Cleveland immigration attorney
Fr. Bill Thaden
(a Catholic priest who has served the Latino community in
Lorain, Cleveland, El Salvador, and elsewhere since he was
ordained 25 years ago), and former Border Patrol agent-turned
attorney Michael Rendón.
executive director of the Ohio Commission on Latino Affairs,
addressed the gathering on her view of the state of Latinos
living in the Buckeye state.
Workshop topics also included changes to voting laws that will
affect the 2014 election, a topic key to Latinos as one of the
state’s fastest-growing voting blocs; Ohio’s new third grade
reading guarantee, which could result in children being forced
to repeat a grade (there are exceptions for students who are
learning English); how to protect children in an age where human
trafficking is quickly on the rise; and how to prepare healthy
Latin food, a workshop presented by the executive chef at Lorain
County Community College.
Margarita De León
of Toledo (and native of Lorain) delivered a workshop on
“Increasing Market Share in the Hispanic/Latino Community.” The
workshop focused on the unique characteristics of Latino
families and culture, which can afford savvy business owners an
opportunity to appeal to and harness a profitable share of the
growing economic power of the country’s fastest-growing
Youth Leadership tract focused on bullying and sexting. A pair
of young, Cleveland-area attorneys spoke to teens on the
ramifications of each controversial trend.
Student participants had the opportunity to role play, analyze
and interpret bullying situations while coming to understand how
different sections of the Ohio Revised Code cover bullying and
by extension, telephone harassment.
Award-winning Colombian-American writer, film director, and
singer-songwriter Andrés Useche spoke at the conference.
Useche has become a strong advocate for immigration reform in
recent years, writing and performing his song “Marching into the
Light” at rallies and marches across the country. The activist
also has supported DREAM Act organizations and aided efforts
related to the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” (DACA)
initiative, which grants deportation relief and work permits to
the undocumented youth.
Useche also performed at the conference gala along with
well-known comedian Erik Rivera.