Manatee immigration advocates promote community leadership

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 30, 2013 

U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, speaks with Parrish residents at a recent "town hall meeting" at the Parrish Community Center. FILE PHOTO/JESSICA DE LEON/Bradenton Herald

MANATEE -- Advocates for immigration reform are aiding the Hispanic community to organize and bolster support as leaders prepare to meet with U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan on the current bill next month.

UnidosNow hosted a bimonthly training session Saturday for members at their headquarters to promote voter registration and teach leadership in an effort to increase political participation within the local Hispanic community.

"We have to give people the tools of how they can bring change to the community," UnidosNow Outreach Coordinator Adriana Cerrillo said. "So we are teaching them leadership."

UnidosNow is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the passage of comprehensive immigration reform.

"We don't need guns in this country, we need activism," UnidosNow founder C.J. Czaia said. "UnidosNow is an empowerment movement."

With Congress currently voting on the immigration issue, UnidosNow is set to meet with Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, to ask him to take a stand in support the effort.

"Our job is to convince the Vern Buchanans of the world, to do the right, Christian thing," Czaia said. "We need that kind of leadership in the House of Representatives."

"We're looking forward to reviewing the House immigration plan as it develops in the weeks ahead," Buchanan's Communications Director Max Goodman said. "As you know,

House Speaker John Boehner had made clear he will not bring the Senate proposal to the floor for a vote, but instead has asked House leaders to produce their own legislation."

According to Buchanan's official website, he is on record against amnesty for undocumented aliens and supports a bill to make English the official language of the U.S., and had spoken in support of funding better border security between the U.S. and Mexico.

Recently UnidosNowhas helped to coordinate multiple rallies recently to demonstrate a need forcomprehensive immigration reform.

"UnidosNow is not Democratic or Republican, it is about changing immigration reform," Czaia said. "This is not a Democratic or a Republican issue, it is a U.S. issue."

Jessica De Leon, law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049.

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