Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack Meets with Latino Media Group
La Prensa Hispana
Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack along with members of her staff including Claudia Suarez one of her offices’ Field Representative met in Indio with a group of Latino media. Among participants, the most listened to television station from the Coachella Valley to El Centro, News Director for Univision, Marta Saldaña and Grace Lizarraga also with Univision, Marvin Alvarez from the daily morning (1270AM) radio program “Molcajete”, Marcos Palma a long time television news personality now with his own cable televised program and publishers Ana and Al Vasquez from the 20 year old, original, bilingual Spanish/English newspaper, La Prensa Hispana. Other Latino media representatives spoke to the congresswoman privately prior to the scheduled event and did not chose to participate in the open room discussion. Several non-Latino news organizations were present including Nicole Brambilla of the Desert Sun.
The event covered a variety of topics but kept returning to the topic of immigration. Non media participants jumped into the discussion when they noticed the congresswoman at center circle. After approximately half an hour of Latino group discussion, the gathering evolved into a spontaneous small community meeting. Several participants offered their opinions on the healthcare issue with the majority not at all pleased with the cost and direction it is taking.
A retired doctor calling for Tort Reform, elaborated on the high cost of medical practice insurance, he had been paying $300,000 per year just to stay in business while another participant was very upset with what she perceived as providing medical services to the undocumented uninsured. There was a brief discussion with members of the media group who did not appreciate the insinuation.
The discussion lasted for approximately one hour and participants were in general agreement this type of discussion was very beneficial and a first in the Latino community. No other local representative has met with Latino media despite the fifty percent Latino population in the Coachella Valley. Issues such as immigration were hot button issues and it was apparent congress has no solutions in sight with the Obama administration apparently back tracking on promises. While no one present advocated amnesty, there was a deep concern over the continued and perceived feverish pitch in breaking up families and sending individuals back across the border. Felons are welcome to be targeted but there were many first hand accounts by participants who claimed to have witnessed law enforcement calling in the Border Patrol at random when Latinos are involved. Marvin made a strong case against the continued profiling of Latinos who have to on the spot prove their citizenship or be hauled in.
A brief discussion ensued by Marta Saldaña on which law enforcement department has the right and who does not to enforce random immigration status review and as immigration reform in general, “it depends on who you ask.” It started to become clear and voiced by participants that ICE and immigration reform does not operate in a vacuum and the Obama administration is being looked at as the culprit for not placing any real priority on the immigration issue. Last week the newspaper La Prensa Hispana covered a front page protest story from Mexicali where Mexican immigrants are being dumped in the wee hours of the morning. Major community organizations from both sides of the border took part in the protest. The issue was exacerbated by women who were dumped claiming they did not know where they were and had no familiarity with the Mexicali area. They became vulnerable to criminals who take advantage of their situation. The incidents were motivated in part by the thousands of women who have disappeared in Juarez, the El Paso, Texas border city whose record of missing women from both sides of the border numbers in the tens of thousands over the past ten years.
In the final analysis, there was no major consensus reached with the meeting with the Congresswoman but there was a deep sense of satisfaction that there was someone in Washington who would listen to their opinions one on one. Congresswoman Bono Mack elaborated on the services offered by her office including assistance in immigration issues which several participants acknowledged knowing individuals who have obtained citizenship with her office’s assistance.
The meeting evolved into an open forum on health care reform when uninvited persons showed up with protest signs demanding health care reform, a clear intrusion on the Latino group meeting and a clear jab at the Congresswoman who was there to listen to her Latino constituents who respectfully did not show up with placards. They showed up for a legitimate and worthwhile discussion.
The discussions continued on another topic with another group but that is another story. The Congresswoman is to be credited for her open and fair minded open airing and listening to what Latinos have on their mind.