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May 14, 2008

Session on Myths and Facts to Kick Off Immigration Conference, to be Held at Knight Law Center May 22-23

A conference on immigration in Oregon will begin with a community forum focusing on “Myths and Facts about Immigration: Gender, Youth and Family Perspectives” at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 22.

The issues covered during the opening session and those that follow on Friday, May 23, will cover the Latino immigrant experience in the state, where 10 percent of the population is Latin American, with most immigrants arriving, primarily from Mexico, in the last two decades.

“We want to highlight the talents and contributions of Latino immigrant youth and families, such as trilingual young people who speak an indigenous language of Mexico, such as Mixtec, as well as Spanish and English,” said Lynn Stephen director of the Gender, Family, and Immigration Project of the UO’s Center for the Study of Women in Society (CSWS). “We also will discuss the high success rate of first- and second-generation Latino immigrant youth, and the kinds of successful alliance building Latinos are doing with other groups of people in cities such as Woodburn as a way of combating inaccurate stereotypes about Latino immigrants.”

Stephen, an organizer of the CSWS-sponsored event, wrote “Transborder Lives: Indigenous Oaxacans in Mexico, California, and Oregon,” a book published last year.

Latinos account for 16.8 percent of Oregon students enrolled in public schools in the current school year. At the current growth rate, the Oregon Department of Education projects that 28 percent of student enrollment in the state will be Latino by 2020.

The Conference on Gender, Families and Latino Immigration in Oregon will be held in the Knight Law Center, 1515 Agate St. Information about public parking is available on the Web, by email or by phone (541-346-5015). Both days of the event are free and open to the public. More than 30 community leaders and advocates for immigrants’ rights will participate in the conference.

The conference-opening forum, which will set the tone for two days, will be led by four speakers: Santiago Ventura of the Oregon Law Center in Woodburn; Patricia Cortez of Juventud FACETA, an immigrant youth group in Eugene; Odilia Romero of the Frente Indígena de Organizaciones Binacionales (Indigenous Front of Binational Organizations) with offices in Oaxaca, Juxtlahuaca, and Tijuana, Mexico, as well as in Los Angeles and Fresno, Calif.; and Edward Olivos, a UO professor of teacher education who specializes in bilingual education and bicultural parent involvement. Olivos also is the author of the book “The Power of Parents: A Critical Perspective of Bicultural Parent Involvement in Public Schools” published in 2006.

The keynote presentation at 5 p.m., Friday, May 23, will feature a discussion on “Lessons on Gender and Family Issues Among Immigrant Populations in Oregon and California” by Patricia Zavella, professor and chair of Latin American and Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Guadalupe Quinn of the Lane County office of CAUSA, a statewide grassroots immigrant rights coalition based in Salem, Ore.

Friday’s sessions — beginning at 9 a.m. — will cover the following topics: Building Alliances for Immigration Rights; Youth and Education; Challenges for Immigrant Men and Women; Labor (exploring wages and working conditions of Latino immigrants); Indigenous Immigrant Women’s Organizing and Leadership; Negotiating Family Dynamics; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Issues in Immigrant Communities; and Services for Immigrant Families. The conference will close with a reception and cultural event, which begins at 6:30 p.m.

The full schedule is available in English and Spanish.

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