TRENTON – The growing impact of Hispanics in New Jersey – from the positives of businesses created to the negatives of jobs lost via deportations – will be among the topics during a first-ever, two-day Hispanic Leadership Summit scheduled for September.
The conference is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 9 (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.) and Saturday, Sept. 10 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.) at the Aloft Hotel, 558 Fellowship Road, in Mount Laurel. The group, Hispanics Impacting Public Policy, will host the conference, which will coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month.
Assemblyman Angel Fuentes, (D-5), of Camden, said today that the conference – which will feature U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, (D-NJ), Senate President Steve Sweeney, (D-3), of West Deptford, and consulates from several countries, among other participants – will be a springboard to call attention to three major federal issues facing the Hispanic community – deportations, the failed DREAM Act, and human trafficking.
With several non-profit, social service groups having seen cuts in the state budget for the 2012 fiscal year, a one-stop-shop type of conference where residents can participate in workshops on topics such as foreclosures, financial matters, health care and education takes on greater importance, officials said.
Another goal of the conference, according to HIPP President Leanna Roman Lozada, is to get the different ethnic groups within the Latino community “speaking in one voice.”
“We cannot continue to be divided,” she said today.
Lozada said the country’s approach on deporting non-criminal Hispanics ultimately creates an economic drain, particularly in communities such as Riverside and Hightstown.
Cumulatively, billions of dollars that could be going toward revenues are instead being used to carry out deportations, she said. As of mid-2002, Hispanic businesses nationally totaled more than $345 billion in gross receipts. That is a 55.5 percent increase from 2002.
“It is sort of like ignoring a whole resource of funds,” she said. “The present deportation model is not working.”
The Dream Act – defeated in the U.S. Senate last year – would have provided a six-year timetable toward permanent residency, and would have provided in-state tuition rates to children born in the United States to undocumented residents.
Fuentes said the conference will also stress the importance of registering to vote. Presently, some 253,000 Hispanics are not registered to vote, according to Fuentes.
There are some 1.5 million Hispanics in New Jersey, which is nearly 18 percent of the state’s population, officials said.
Both Fuentes and Roman said the conference is intended to educate the community on relevant issues and not simply be a dog-and-pony show.
“This is not just a political event,” Lozada said.
Fuentes added, “This is not a Republican or Democratic issue.”