During the past couple of months, Leo Perales of the Latino Coalition Tri-Cities has been hearing increasing reports of Latinos being mocked or harassed.
The racial slurs he hears as a construction worker seem to have increased. And he’s hearing reports of racial comments scrawled on school bathroom walls and Latino children being told by other students that they will be deported, he said.
He is concerned that children no longer want to go to school, and adults have immigration concerns.
His response has been to help organize a community forum in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as president. Trump vowed during his campaign to deport millions of people who are in the U.S. illegally, and clarified Sunday on 60 Minutes that his priority would be deporting criminals.
The message of the Moving Forward community forum on Saturday in Pasco is “don’t live in fear.”
“There was much divisive and hurtful language in this election cycle and it has had an immense impact on our immigrant communities and it needs to be dealt with head on,” said the Tri-Cities Latino Coalition in a flier promoting the forum. “No individual should be harassed for their ethnicity.”
The forum will educate immigrants, assuring them that there will not be neighborhood immigration raids, Perales said.
The Latino Coalition has asked community leaders and experts to attend.
They include Pasco City Manager Dave Zabell, Kennewick Police Chief Ken Hohenberg, Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger, immigration attorney Tom Roach and others.
Some young people participating in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, also are expected to attend.
Trump has said he plans to repeal President Obama’s executive orders, which could include DACA, a program that allows some immigrants who entered the United States before they were 16 years old to remain in the United States for two years or longer.
The event will be from 1 to 3 p.m. at Salon La Michoacana, 415 W. Lewis St.