Original URL: http://www.arizonarepublic.com/arizona/articles/1031aztownhall31.html

Town Hall targets Latino issues
Self-esteem, dropout rate top concerns

By Angela Cara Pancrazio
The Arizona Republic
Oct. 31, 2002

GRAND CANYON - The 131 participants at the 81st Arizona Town Hall put
self-esteem issues and high school dropout rates as the top challenges facing the
state's Latino population, a group that has increased nearly 90 percent from 1990
to 2000.

Recommendations by the diverse group during a four-day conference that ended
Wednesday have been compiled into a report that will be distributed and
discussed statewide.

Some highlights:

Improve early education to address low self-esteem issues and
underachievement that results in the high dropout rate. Participants agreed there
is a need for greater Hispanic leadership and role models.

Encourage the use of Spanish, which is extremely valuable to Arizona's future.

Participants said Spanish is not only important to maintain the culture but also
vital to the intellectual and economic component of Arizona's future in the global
economy. This does not deter from the importance of English among Arizonans,
they said.

Boost voter registration and turnout among Hispanics, which will increase the
political influence of the rapidly growing population. Business leaders, elected
officials and community leaders need to do more to reach out and educate
Hispanic voters, creating a sense of belonging and inclusion, participants agreed.

Recognize immigrants as an asset and not a drain on the state's economy.
Federal immigration policy should be changed and/or updated to reflect this
reality, they said.

Implement a certification process to register undocumented workers to permit
them to work here legally in a guest worker program that is fair and equitable to
all. That would be subject to a form al treaty with Mexico.

The 32-page report will be made available through public libraries. The Arizona
Town Hall will deliver its report to legislators as well as hold forums across the
state from Yuma to Springerville, Town Hall President Shirley Agnos said.

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