By Camille Liptak and Leslie James

The Latino Community Luncheon in Colorado Springs hosted an event on Oct. 11th to create a space for networking, and to commemorate Spanish History month. The missions of coordinators Carmen Abeyta and Anna Marie Ortiz are to organize diverse ideas and viewpoints, and spread educational information for and about the Latino Community through social interaction.

Local Immigration Attorney Eric Pavri, PPCC Political Science Instructor Dr. Elsa Dias, and UCCS student and DACA receiver Nayda Benitez spoke on the pros, cons, and hardships of DACA.

Pavri’s stance centered on the moral and practical reasons for protecting Dreamers. He supports the Dream Act over DACA because he believes it is a pathway to a permanent solution for those seeking residence in the US. Pavri is the Director of Family Immigration Services at Catholic Charities of Colorado Springs. He emphasized the insecurity created by the threat of deportation, and how it affects families and businesses.

“When we have strong families, we are a strong city, and a strong nation,” Pavri said. He believes the stability of immigrated families and children allows them to become and remain productive contributors to our economy, and participate in America’s system by participating in social security and Medicare. Pavri also said if young people are denied the chance to earn permanent residence status, their talents and drive are squandered.

PPCC instructor, Dr. Elsa Dias provided a logical argument against DACA.

Dias called DACA a, “cynical approach to immigration,” and believes it should be abandoned, because it does not solve the issue for the 800,000 affected individuals. Dias said the vague conditions of the deferred action is a, “constitutional overreach” that has resulted in an arbitrary execution of power. DACA creates for immigrants a, “false conception” of achieving citizenship, and contentious discussion among political powers. Dias argued in favor of a “clean” Dream Act as the long-term solution and replacement for the instability of the DACA memorandum. A reformed Dream Act would be a permanent pathway to citizenship in contrast to the uncertain public policy of DACA, which requires immigrants to renew their deferred action every two years without possibility to gain a green card.

Benitez, a student activist and Dreamer, was there to, “represent those in the shadows.” She spoke on the insecurity of belonging to an immigrated family, and how being undocumented affected her family and educational journey.

She also supports a clean Dream Act, and believes DACA excludes and criminalizes undocumented Dreamers. Benitez’s speech poked holes in the American Dream, saying that the narratives created by DACA were “toxic”, because they are based on achievements and attributions. Benitez is a DACA student.

Among the crowd were notable figures from the Colorado Springs community, including members of the police department and the fire chiefs, representatives from District 11, Daryl Glenn, a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives for the 5th congressional district, members of the Black and Latino coalition, and other interested citizens.

A call for action was made at the end of Pavri’s speech as he passed out contact info for Federal Representatives. His calling was to help make voices of the community heard by the White House.

Benitez is the leader of a support group called Unidos, meaning “United”, at UCCS for other DACA students. She hopes to provide a safe space for fellow students to share stories on growing up undocumented and the traumas that lie within their childhood. The support group also brings advice on financial aid matters for DACA receivers. Monica Perez, PPCC student, is in the works of extending Unidos to the community college as PPCC has higher numbers of DACA students.

The luncheon was a respectable place for community leaders and members to listen and share various ideas. Each speaker was awarded a certificate of appreciation at the end of the event in applause to speaking their viewpoints.