Thousands of Latinos across Washington State expected in Olympia on Monday
YAKIMA, Wash.- While immigration is one of the topics for this year's Latino Legislative Day, the Latino community wants to talk about more than that.
David Morales with the Washington State Commission of Hispanic Affairs said they’re using the event as a way to make sure they're properly represented by their government.
“The bigger issue is that there is simply not enough representation for people of color in government offices and we want to increase those opportunities across the state,” he said.
This is the 13th time the Latino community have gathered in Olympia to let legislators know what issues are affecting them.
Members from the Latino Civic Alliance are going to sit down with state lawmakers to discuss things such as same day voter registration and auto-registration for when people move.
Morales said this gives people a chance to get properly registered and have the chance to vote.
Another issue that is going to be discussed is how law enforcement and jails handle people with mental health conditions.
“In Washington state, but specifically here in Yakima, 80 percent of the people who are going to jail have some kind of mental health problem or issue that needs attention,” Gabriel Munoz with the Latino Civic Alliance said.
He said Yakima police need additional resources and training to properly protect and serve these people.
Munoz also said the language barrier between Spanish speakers and law enforcement could make things more dangerous than they have to be.
“When there is a language barrier it can quickly escalate to a situation that is very dangerous for both the police officer and the person in the situation,” he said.
Thousands of people from the Latino community are expected in Olympia on Monday for the event.
However, Morales said the only way change will happen is if everyone gets involved in their local government.
“We, as a Latino population need to make sure that we are fully engaged in all the processes around us. From school boards to the big national elections,” he said.
Latino Legislative Day is going to start at 9 a.m. at the state capital in Olympia on Monday. With workshops and presentations going on throughout the day.