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2006.07.17> For Immediate Release
contact: Beverly Newsam - University Affairs
phone: 402.554.2358 - email: bnewsam@mail.unomaha.edu

Immigration Reform Voter Outreach Event Set for July 22

Omaha - A coalition of organizations will sponsor an evening of events Saturday, July 22, to draw attention to the need for increased civic participation among new voters in Nebraska. A focus will be on holding elected officials accountable in November on issues involving comprehensive immigration reform.

The event, which will include a one-hour training session to deputize Omaha residents to register voters, will be held at the Plaza de la Raza in South Omaha. Training is open to U.S. citizens 18 years or older and will take place at the Chicano Awareness Center, 4821 S. 24th St., from 4 to 5 p.m. Everyone in the Latino and greater Omaha communities is invited to attend.

Organizers and newly deputized voter registrars will then host a community celebration and voter registration drive at La Plaza from 6 to 8 p.m. The event will feature music, food and opportunities to participate in a letter-writing campaign urging Nebraska’s federal delegation to support comprehensive immigration reform.

Building on the historic immigration marches that took place a few months ago, the Chicano Awareness Center, the Office of Latino/Latin American Studies (OLLAS) at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO), Nebraska Appleseed and NAF, as well as the larger immigrant community and other concerned citizens, are determined to harness that energy through a series of projects that promotes long-term Latino civic engagement, political education and electorate growth. A soon-to-be-released OLLAS report shows that rolls of Latino voters can be easily doubled by the next election.

The July 22 event is part of the “We are America” national movement that was born around the marches in April and aims to register one million new immigrant voters nationally. Organizers hope to see Latino youth become deputized to conduct voter registration.

“They have the generational power to determine who our elected officials will be in the near future, and on their shoulders rests the responsibility of becoming educated about the political process,” said Lourdes Gouveia, director of OLLAS and an associate professor of sociology at UNO. “We must stress the importance of electing leaders that best represent the interests of the most disenfranchised communities.”

For more information, contact Nebraska Appleseed (http://www.NeAppleseed.org, 402-438-8853 or dnantkes@neappleseed.org), Immigrant Rights Network of Iowa and Nebraska (http://www.irnin.org), OLLAS (http://www.unomaha.edu/ollas or 402-554-3835) or the Chicano Awareness Center (402-215-5338 or rvaldez@cacinc.org).

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