Advance Notice: Briefs

Latino Legislative Caucus announces leadership

By: - March 11, 2019 7:28 pm

Alex Garza (left) and Vanessa Guerra (right)

State Reps. Alex Garza (D-Taylor) and Vanessa Guerra (D-Saginaw) will lead the Michigan Latino Legislative Latino Caucus this session.

“I am honored to lead the largest group of Latinx legislators in our state’s history,” said Garcia, caucus chair. “Michigan is made stronger by diversity – diversity of thought and ideas as much as diversity of race or background. Everyone wants the same things for their families – safe roads to drive on, clean water to drink, and quality schools to give the next generation the education they deserve – and my fellow caucus members and I are proud to fight for those things on behalf of our communities.

The caucus has been active in recent years. For example, it advocated for the U.S. Congress to enact legislation to continue the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and to provide a pathway for permanent resident status for recipients. Almost 6,400 DACA recipients live in Michigan.  

“Neither our state nor our nation would be what it is today without the tremendous contributions of Latino Americans to our shared history,” said Guerra, vice chair. “We are a deeply passionate community that deserves a place at the table, and I’m proud to have the opportunity to bring our rich cultural perspective to the Capitol. Our Latino brothers and sisters have never given up on us, and our caucus will make sure our state never gives up on them.”

Guerra’s great-great grandfather, Reuben Garcia, was a founder of La Union Civica, an organization that promotes civil rights and education for members of Saginaw’s Latino community.

The Latino Caucus also announced that state Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) will serve as secretary.

Erika Geiss

“The Hispanic and Latinx community have made great contributions to the American story in general and Michigan’s culture in particular,” said Geiss, the granddaughter of Panamanian immigrants. “… Representation matters not only to ensure that we give voice to the voiceless but also to inspire more women and men to step up, lead, and serve their communities.”

State Rep. Darrin Camilleri (D-Brownstown Twp.) will serve as treasurer.

“As workers, business owners and community leaders, Hispanic and Latinx people have called Michigan home for over a century,” said Camilleri. “As part of this caucus, I am proud to follow in their footsteps and continue the work they began so long ago — fighting to make our state a better place.”

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.