En Español Know Your Rights
Source: NY1
Subject: Profiles of MRNY
Type: Media Coverage

Hispanic Heritage Week: Advocacy Group Aims To Empower Hispanic Immigrants

In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month,
NY1 is taking a look at issues affecting the community and how their needs are
being addressed. Queens borough reporter
Ruschell Boone filed the following report on an advocacy group that is working
to empower the Latin immigrants.

There are
some questions Luz Barinas can answer in English, but the Colombian immigrant
says her language skills are very limited. As a result, she signed up for a
free English class being offered in Corona.

"I
need to speak English with the teacher for my children," she said. "I
need to speak English in the hospital and post office."

The class
is offered four nights a week by Make the Road New York as one of the ways to empower
Hispanic immigrants. The non-profit group, which came together last year
through a merger of the Latin Integration Center and Make
the Road by Walking
,
is an advocacy group for immigrants rights.

In addition
to the English classes, Make the Road also provides computer courses and
classes to help people prepare for their citizenship.

"The
Latin community right now is being targeted by the government depending on the
state, depending on their immigration status," said Arturo Archila, adult educator at Make the Road New York. "We are being mistreated if
we don’t know the language and we are not being treated equally or fairly as
other people are."

Archila says that’s one of the reasons why Make the Road
is pushing for immigrants to learn English. The organization, along with other
advocacy groups, has also been fighting to make sure there are translators
available for Spanish speakers in public facilities.

"One
of the few campaigns that we have won is to have translators in the hospitals
and in the schools," he said. "We are trying for pharmacies to print
out their labels in Spanish if requested by a client so people are not
overdosing or taking the wrong medication."

While the
battle is being fought on the language front, the group says it’s now ready to
take the fight for equal rights to the political arena.

"Last
year we mobilized 700 members just to a meeting so politicians would talk to
them and show what their platforms are," said Archila. "We are going to mobilize 500
members on the 15th of this month on Democracy Day. We are going to make a
stand as an organization so our city officials will listen to what our needs
are and how important to them."

Archila says the biggest need is equality,
and that’s a lesson Luz Barinas says she can understand.