Valle del Sol Latino Leadership Developme

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Luz Sarmina-Gutierrez, President and CEO of Valle del Sol, discusses the expansion of the Hispanic Leadership Institute program along with other initiatives to increase Latino leadership in the community.

Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. Welcome to "Horizonte." We'll talk about a controversial federal bill that would legalize the status of children of undocumented immigrants. Also the expansion of a program promoting Hispanic leaders a grant to cultivate a grassroots leadership effort in the Hispanic community.

The Dream Act and Student Adjustment Act, they're federal legislation that grants students the opportunity to adjust their legal status in order to allow them to attend college. Joining us to talk about this legislation Emilia Manuelos and immigration attorney who currently has clients who benefit from this bill. Emilia also volunteers for a volunteer organization whose sole purpose is to obtain passage of the bill. Also here is Kathy McKee, state director for Protect Arizona Now aimed at preventing voter fraud and denying public benefits to undocumented immigrants and is a critic of this legislation. Welcome to "Horizonte."

Emilia, you're an immigration attorney. Tell us a little about your background and then I want to talk about the legislation.

>> Emilia Manuelos:
My background - I've grew up here in Arizona. I went to ASU law school. I have been an immigration attorney for 10 years. My parents were lucky they were able to come to the United States about 36 years ago and were able to apply for residency and I was able -- I come from immigrant families, first generation, and I work with many immigrant workers, even groups here in Arizona. This is my home state, and I like to be involved in everything, and anything that has to do with immigrants because of the immigration laws I was able to be an attorney and be able to help other people out.

>> José Cárdenas:
Tell us about the dream act. Give us an overview.

>> Emilia Manuelos:
The Dream Act, there's two different versions. One is going up in the house, the other up in the Senate. The Senate Adjustment Act and the dream act. Basically what it does it is would allow a person who has been here, a student, who has been residing in the United States for a certain period of time, to be able to apply for their legal status in the United States if they graduate from high school f they go to college or if they go into the Air Force. It's a very limited bill. Obviously it's not the answer or solution to our immigration problems, but it is something that would help. I get thousands of calls on an annual basis from teachers, from students who have found that certain student that's doing very well but they found out they have no status in the United States and they want to sponsor them but there is no way to legally sponsor someone who is brought into the United States illegally.

>> José Cárdenas:
What's the current status of the legislation?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
Right now it's pending. It's pending both in the house and the Senate. There has been some debate. There has been some discussion, but basically if they don't vote it out of the Senate or don't vote it out of the house, it's just going to die at the end of the session.

>> José Cárdenas:
Emilia just a few more questions before we start talking about the pros and cons. How many students would be affected in Arizona if it did pass?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
There is no numbers. Obviously because we don't know how many students are in the system. Nationally I've heard figures of 65,000 per year. I'm not sure where those numbers are coming from, but on a personal basis, I see these kids every single day of my practice I see parents who are coming into my office and telling me this is my son, this is my daughter, they're going to ASU, they're going to graduate from high school, and we wanted to something about it.

>> José Cárdenas:
You have got clients who would be affected by this legislation; is that right?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
I have clients who are in deportation proceedings and desperately need for the passage of this bill or else they will have to leave the United States if this bill doesn't pass and these kids have been here all their lives.

>> José Cárdenas:
Without reach breaching any confidentiality, can you tell us more about the cases like that?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
The common scenario is these kids were brought here when they were two, three, four years old by their parents, usually came into the country illegally undocumented or came in with a tourist visa, overstayed. Pretty much they have lived here all their lives, many of them, the majority of them don't speak a word of Spanish or don't know Mexico. They pretty much are -- the ones I have encountered are the cream of the crop, they're very intelligent. These are the future leaders of America. And they just don't have -- I can't do anything for them. People come to my office, and teachers, administrators, different people come to my office saying how can we help these kids? You're an attorney do your job. But I can't because there is no process for them to be able to become legal in the United States.

>> José Cárdenas:
Kathy, you have been involved -- you spearheaded the Protect Arizona Now, an initiative that's aimed at preventing voter fraud and also requiring proof of citizenship for non-mandated federal benefits.

>> Kathy McKee:
Just proof of eligibility. You don't necessarily have to be a citizen.

>> José Cárdenas:
But legal status, is that right?

>> Kathy McKee:
Right.

>> José Cárdenas:
I want to talk about the initiative and where it stands. Before we get to that, you're a critic of the Dream Act legislation. Why?

>> Kathy McKee:
Actually Protect Arizona Now isn't related to the Dream Act but as a leader in this movement, I and my supporters are against the Dream Act. It is placing a burden on the American taxpayers that is not fair. The very small special interest group, these heart-rending stories of kids would likely benefit but how about the familiar families, the poor families of citizens who can't send their own children to college with you but would have to pay taxes to send these children to subsidize their education to go to college. It's not fair for them. Who should bear the burden of these children being in this country it legally? The proponents don't want the parents to bear the responsibility. Why should the taxpayers have to? Most colleges are raising tuition now, limiting enrollment more and more. I don't think we need to add to the problem of having more people wanting higher education when there's really no money for it.

>> José Cárdenas:
You referred to it as a small group. Do you know how many people we're talking about?

>> Kathy McKee:
I can't imagine anyone in Arizona, because Arizona illegally has been granting tuition to children of illegal families for years. It was banned - the Illegal Immigration Reform Act - in 1996. It was upheld as illegal by the United States Supreme Court in 2000. So that's another major reason. I oppose it, because it's against the law and these states, that's why they need to pass the Dream Act, because against the law. States like Arizona are thumbing the nose at the laws, even the United States Supreme Court saying, we don't care, we're going to do it anyway -

>> José Cárdenas:
But so -- so if the law was passed, that would remove at least one of your concerns?

>> Kathy McKee:
Not really, because it would be passed over the will of the people in this country, which the overriding concern I have, and I think most people that are involved in Protect Arizona Now is, because it's just trying to get laws passed that are already on the books, is that the lawlessness that we're not listening to -- we don't have a democracy or a republic. Our representatives don't listen to us, and the vast majority, you have 75 or 80% of the people in this country want something or in this state want something and it doesn't come about either. We don't have a democracy.

>> José Cárdenas:
What should we do about these cases of children who came here when they were very young, maybe as babies, they've been educated all their life in the United States, all indications are they'll be good contributing members of the community, and they can't go to college, at least not with in state tuition. What should we do about that?

>> Kathy McKee:
You are talking to someone who could verify has spent their entire life, I have spent 30 years of my life, helping underprivileged children, animals and old people, so my heart does go out and I am a very compassionate person but I'm still compassionate with the taxpayer. I think the only remedy at law is that the family needs to be deported.

>> José Cárdenas:
So you would say, tough luck, you may have been brought here, you didn't have a choice, you may have been educated here --

>> Kathy McKee:
I didn't have a choice where I was born or raised either, I went with where my parents made the decisions. Should the taxpayers have to bear the brunt of the decisions their parents should?

>> José Cárdenas:
Wouldn't the taxpayers benefit from having these children well educated contributing members of the community?

>> If the choice were only between having them be drop-outs with no education as opposed to being educated, if those are the only two choices, but they can go to Mexico or Guatemala or wherever they came from or Great Britain, wherever they're from, it doesn't matter, they can go back to their home country with their families and be educated. It's not up to the American public to educate or provide medical needs or everything else for every needy child in the world. God knows I wish we could, but we can't.

>> José Cárdenas:
Emilia, isn't that a reasonable response?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
One thing is that many of these people are in the process, they just can't simply go back. I have several kids in the process of obtaining illegal residency. If there is one thing I agree with Kathy, our immigration laws are broken. Many years ago, 20, 30 years ago, we wouldn't have this problem because there would be a process that people could follow. Now -- we're dealing with an obsolete system, a system that doesn't work right now in regards to immigration. There used to be that if a person was -- could sponsor you, if you were a U.S. citizen, they could sponsor you. Right now we don't have that system, even if you are married to a U.S. citizen, you cannot apply if you entered the country illegal lay. So we have a broken system within the immigration context and I have been doing this for 10 years and it seems to be getting worse every year with more changes, with more punitive changes.

>> José Cárdenas:
The system is broken but you disagree on the remedy?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
Completely. I believe a person who shows they have -- they are contributing members of society, that they have shown that they're good people, that they should be able to -- we have to have a way to allow these people to be able to apply and become legal residents. As far as in-state tuition, what we're talking about is these kids want a work permit so that they will be able to work and they'll be able to become U.S. citizens in the future and, therefore, regardless of whether it's in-state -- in-state tuition has to do with where have you lived. The states choose what is their programs. They usually want to keep people who have lived here in Arizona, so they can contribute to Arizona in the future. That's why they offer in state tuition. Many of these kids have lived here all their lives in Arizona, or in California. If you have a person coming from California, their parents pay taxes in California, they could stay in California and pay in-state tuition. The people who have -- most of these kid, their parents have paid, they're paying either property taxes or they're paying sales taxes. They have contributed. They are doing their income taxes. They are trying to do everything possible but the way that the system is set up right now is that they will not be able to legalize. These kids don't want --

>> José Cárdenas:
Let me ask Kathy about that. That point is made, Kathy, that immigrants who are here without papers do pay taxes and if that were proved to your satisfaction, would you still feel that they shouldn't get the benefits that come from the other tax paying citizens.

>> Kathy McKee:
Lou Dobbs said on his show a couple months ago 33% of our prison population is now noncitizens. 36 to 42 % of our illegal immigrants are on some type of welfare. Those people are not contributing squat. So if they're paying sales taxes, the National Research Council just finished a study --

>> Emilia Manuelos:
We're talking about people whose families are -- have been here, they're not in jail, they're not doing the other kinds of things you're talking about, doing well enough that their kids are ready to go to school.

>> Kathy McKee:
You're saying they are the rule and not the exception. The National Research Council, which is not any kind of conservative partisan think tank, they're very liberal, released a study last year available on the Internet that the average illegal alien Hispanic cost taxpayers $89,000. There's not a net gain here. That's a fiction that there is. I'm not saying individual ones don't because obviously there are individual ones who do contribute more than they cost but overall they don't.

>> José Cárdenas:
Emilia, quickly tell us about Cardenia. Because I do want to talk about Protect Arizona Now and where that stands, but Cardenia is a support group for this legislation is that right?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
It's a group of mostly teachers who are here in Arizona and they are the organization that has been trying to coordinate the support for the national organizations and it's mostly volunteers, students. That's basically how we find students who are in the situation. Many of these students don't want to talk about their situation because many of them don't even know they weren't born in the United States. Many assume they were born here.

>> José Cárdenas:
The group is people -- mostly teachers --

>> Emilia Manuelos:
Teachers, mostly business people. It's just a lot of volunteers -- businesses -- we have people who have different clubs, organizations who have been supporting us, we have sent people to Washington to talk to our congressmen because we do believe this is a federal issue and it needs to be dealt with at a federal level by talking to our congressmen and trying to see if this gets passed.

>> José Cárdenas:
Kathy, Protect Arizona Now filed its signatures last week. It looks like it's on the ballot; is that right?

>> Kathy McKee:
That's premature to say. In my dreams it is, but as you know, two candidates last week got disqualified - Tom Bearup and Tim Sifert - got disqualified for high invalidity rates. I believe Tom Barhiff was 38%, and he didn't even use paid signature gatherers where you get a lot more than that. So also I understand that Ralph Nader filed 24,000 signatures and only needed 14 and when his signatures were challenged, he just dropped it. He didn't want to take it time and money to fight it. So there are very high invalidity rates and we think that we got a huge number, 190,887, should be plenty but you never know.

>> José Cárdenas:
How many do you know?

Kathy McKee:
>> 122,612, so we had 65-68,000 more than we needed.

>> José Cárdenas:
You are fairly confident it will be on the ballot?.

>> Kathy McKee:
I'm praying about it every day.

>> José Cárdenas:
You anticipating any legal challenges?

>> Kathy McKee:
Saying this to two attorneys, I will tell you we have the best constitutional minds in the country, in the state to look at it. I don't believe there is a valid legal challenge. That's not to say there isn't a politically motivated legal challenge that will come up as a form of a nuisance - I don't think there is a valid legal challenge.

>> José Cárdenas:
Have any been threatened?

>> Kathy McKee:
I don't think so, not that I know of that.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Are you aware of anything, any challenges forthcoming?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
I'm sure there will be challenges. Some of the wording, personally, I as an attorney, I see this as a very poorly drafted document. My concern is that the definition of public benefit. There's also other --

>> Jose Cardenas:
So challenges to the legislation itself but whether it qualified to get on the ballot?

>> Emilia Manuelos:
Not that I'm aware of.

>> Jose Cardenas:
Kathy, there has been a rather significant amount of publicity about a feud, so to speak, between you and other supporters of the initiative. Most prominently Rusty Childress. Where does that stand?

>> Kathy McKee:
The Secretary of State's office recognized my authority to replace him, and this has been very painful because I considered rusty my little brother, but the high ideals that we started Protect Arizona Now with to be nonpartisan, nonpolitical and stay on the high road, some of the people in Protect Arizona Now lost that vision, and to me --

>> José Cárdenas:
Explain --

>> Kathy McKee:
Since there ongoing litigation and it's going to be even longer going than that -- let me think how else I can say it. That some of them did lose their vision. I don't have anything to gain. I'm not running for office.

>> José Cárdenas:
Is this going to affect, though, the success of winning -- assuming it stays on the ballot, of winning?

>> Kathy McKee:
I don't think so, because 80 to 85% of our supporters are still very, very loyal Protect Arizona Now and to the same ideals we started with. You had a small really vocal, vicious minority, try a hostile takeover with this outside group's bottomless pit of money and it didn't work.

>> José Cárdenas:
Let me ask this question to both of you. We had Jorge Ramos of ABC on the show, and he talked about what he experienced here which is a surprising level of intolerance and hatred in his view towards immigrants. Do you agree with that assessment of Arizona, he said higher than anywhere else in the country that.

>> Emilia Manuelos:
I agree with that.

>> José Cárdenas:
Kathy?

>> Kathy McKee:
I hope that's not what we're coming to. I don't have any hatred in my heart --

>> José Cárdenas:
Do you view the you initiative itself as antiimmigrant --

>> Kathy McKee:
Absolutely not. It's antiillegal, it's antifraud. I don't know a sole in Protect Arizona Now that cares whether illegal people are coming from Great Britain, Canada, Maine, New Mexico --

>> José Cárdenas:
We're going to have to leave it there. We'll talk about the illegals from Australia in the next show. Thank you both very much. For 17 years the non-profit community organization Valle del Sol has offered the Hispanic leadership institute. They're now expanding the program. 12 news Kent Dana reports on how the institute has been successful through the years.

>> Kent Dana:
Valle del Sol has a long tradition of being a leader in the Latino community, creating positive change for Arizona.

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
Both the Latino community and Valle del sol have grown a lot in the last five years. In fact, we have more than doubled our size in that time frame. So we're doing things very differently.

>> Kent Dana:
Valle's mission is put into practice every day as Valle seeks to provide services to the young, the elderly, the troubled, the addicted and each year dozens of Valle staff members reassess the services they provide.

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
We're a much larger organization and have great needs in terms of computerization, personnel, qualified staff and certainly the needs of our clients have changed. So we're addressing those needs and how are we as a service provider going to provide services that make sense.

>> Speaker:
Who would have ever thought Hispanics some day would have been the greatest minority?

>> Kent Dana:
Valle expanded the scope of its highly successful Hispanic leadership institute teaming one valley leadership for a workshop.

>> Mark Mazón:
It's time we get together because I think both organizations, they strive to develop individuals and bring issues to the forefront that are really critical to our community.

>> Kent Dana:
Now more than 350 working professionals have experienced the HLI training.

>> Reporter:
Have you heard about Mr. Rickhoff's situation?

>> Program attendee:
No, I haven't.

>> Rosa Flores:
I have been fortunate enough to have finally found a terrific group, an enthusiastic group of truly professional Latinos, a network, which I have been seeking for many, many years.

>> Jose Esparza:
The most important was remember where you came from, remember your family.

>> Kent Dana:
Valle continues to provide mental health and adult substance abuse treatment, parenting classes and sessions like this. Valle's Tiempo de Oro is reaching out to the elderly in Guadalupe and El Mirage.

>> Ron Carpio:
The services that are available for the elderly population are inadequate and certainly for the Hispanic population.

>> Kent Dana:
Valle is developing a model to deliver services to elderly populations that can be replicated throughout country. For these seniors it's become a lifeline out of isolation.

>> Ron Carpio:
She was fairly depressed because she had had some losses in her family, so being in the group, being among other people who had similar issues allowed her to not only express the feelings that she had but also to feel that she wasn't alone.

>> Kent Dana:
Valle's mission is set. It's action at work, day in and day out. Its report card, hurting families, rebuilding, the trouble, finding help, seniors reconnecting, leaders emerging empowered and creating positive change for Arizona.

>> José Cárdenas:
Joining us to talk about the expansion of Valle del Sol's leadership programs is Luz Sarmina-Gutierrez, president and CEO of Valle del Sol. Luz, welcome back to "Horizonte." Give us just a little bit of an overview of the organization itself.

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
Valle del Sol is a community-based organization that's been around for 34 years. For the longest time we were known primarily as being a substance abuse program, but we have grown significantly since those days, in fact, this year, this fiscal year that just started, we will now have 21 different programs. Many of them are behavioral health, which means counseling, individual, group or families, and it can also mean substance abuse treatment. So we offer those services from little kids all the way to senior services, and it's really very exciting time to be at Valle del Sol.

>> José Cárdenas:
One of Valle del Sol's signature programs is the Hispanic Leadership Program.

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
That's why I say we have a little bit of a split personality. That program has been in existence for 17 years. We're going to be going into our 18th year, and the reason I say we have a split personality is because we're doing all this work with individuals and families, and over here we're working very hard at creating new leaders. And it seems like a difference and why are we doing that, but the truth is we're doing that because you can only make a difference in an individual life so far, and then there are really systemic barriers that need to be addressed. So through leadership we're able to address those barriers and really get more of a voice for Latinos.

>> José Cárdenas:
Is the program patterned after other programs in the country or it is unique?

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
I would say that our program is pretty unique. In our Hispanic Leadership Institute, we focus on two key areas. One is skill development, because companies send their employees to build their skills. That's why they pay for them to go to training. At the same time, a very important focus of the Hispanic leadership institute is that we want to help people understand where they come from in terms of their culture and who they are and what contributions they can make being a voice for the Latino community. So it really is twofold. Many of the people who come to our HLI find that, wow, there's a whole lot of us out there, and truly there is. In Phoenix, we're one-third of the population. But if you work in a company somewhere and you're the only one or maybe there's another one down the hall, you don't get the sense of the power in the numbers in the Latino community.

>> José Cárdenas:
17 years. How do you measure success for the program?

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
Success is measured primarily by the networking that people have and by whenever you see a person who is involved in a political type of thing, whether they're running for office or they're serving on a board or a commission or helping on a campaign or whatever it might be, you will find people who are in someway connected with the Hispanic Leadership Institute. Valle del Sol has played a role in helping them -- maybe they were an instructor and they're already a leader. Or maybe they're someone who went through the first early classes. Maybe they were very much affiliated with a group of people who had gone through the class and now have learned about the importance --

>> José Cárdenas:
Is there a typical profile for the people who attend the institute?

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
I would say sort of mid-career people who have established themselves in their profession and who say, you know what, I want to make a difference in my community but I don't know where to get started. So here comes the Hispanic Leadership Institute. We spend 18 weeks going over those two main focus areas, and that's where we go.

>> José Cárdenas:
And you have some exciting recent news concerning expansion into the West Valley; is that right?

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
Absolutely. We are so excited. The West Valley came to us and said, you know, we don't want to lose the leadership that we have and we want to grow our own. So Mayor Joe Gamez of Tolleson and Ann Marie Rogers, the councilwoman in Avondale and Maria Lopez from the Estrella Community Colleges, we got together, we've developed a community committee and we're going to begin our new program in October 2nd.

>> José Cárdenas:
There's something about a Kellogg Foundation grant. Is that in connection --

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
Actually this is a third one. When you think of Valle del Sol, I want you to think of Hispanic leadership and the go to agency being Valle del Sol. The Kellogg Foundation we just got $500,000 over four years to help us build community leadership as opposed to formal leadership and of course our hope is some of the people who go through that community leadership program will become formal leaders but there are often people who don't think they have a voice, who serve -- go to school, go to work, maybe just live in their neighborhood and they get fed up with either what's going on in their children's school or the fact that their neighborhood has a lot of crime and they want to make a difference. And so this program is really going to be focusing on those people at the real community level who say, I want to get involved. It's a very different model from our Hispanic Leadership Institute and we're calling that one the community power because it really is focused on community people.

>> José Cárdenas:
Luz there is a lot of talk periodically about a lack of leadership. What is your assessment of the Hispanic community and is there a leadership void or are we doing just fine or how do you see it?

>> Luz Sarmina-Gutiérrez:
I don't know that by call it a void, but considering that the number of people here in this Valley are roughly a third that are Latino, and when you look at the number of elected officials, it's very small, and nowhere near the numbers considering the population, and really, a democracy is based on being a voice for the people, and if a third of your people are a certain ethnic group, they also need to have a voice. They don't need to be the only voice, but they need to have a voice, and so that, to me, is a reason why Valle del Sol has committed to the leadership development.

>> José Cárdenas:
Luz, thank you for joining us tonight and thank you for heading up the go-to agency, Valle del Sol. For more information on the Hispanic Leadership Institute call Valle del Sol at 602-248-8101, extension 158. If you would like to see Web links related to tonight's show or transcripts, go to our website at www.kaet.asu.edu, click on "Horizonte" at the left of your screen, and follow the links. Thanks for watching tonight and watch us next week on "Horizonte." I'm your host, Jose Cardenas. Have a good night.

Kathy McKee: State director, Protect Arizona Now;

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