By KEVIN McGILL
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Comprehensive immigration legislation _ its prospects for passage in the current Congress and its effects on millions of Latinos in the United States _ will be prominent among topics at a conference drawing an estimated 25,000 to New Orleans.
It’s the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza, the nation’s largest Latino advocacy and civil rights organization. Running Saturday through Tuesday, the event includes a speech on the final day from first lady Michelle Obama.
“We will have a town hall dedicated to this topic of immigration reform, with nationally recognized speakers discussing its impact, as well as its current status,” NCLR Vice President Ron Estrada said Friday.
But the topic of the immigration bill and its possible effects on Latinos is laced throughout other discussions on the conference schedule.
“We have other areas such as education and health care that are integrated into the immigration reform bill that we will cover in various workshops and featured sessions.”
Other workshops will deal with housing discrimination, voter registration and, in a topic specifically aimed at New Orleans, the ways in which an influx of Latinos after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is affecting not only the new immigrants, but also established communities and black residents displaced by the storm.
Estrada says 5,000 registered participants are expected for the conference, with 20,000 more people expected to take part in a related “Family Expo.”
Entertainers will join politicians and policy experts in some of the discussions. Actress Eva Longoria will be among panelists during a Saturday town hall meeting on the role schools will play in helping immigrants who are becoming naturalized citizens. Rita Moreno will be the keynote speaker for a Sunday “Latinas Lunch