MILWAUKEE -- Leaders from Milwaukee's Hispanic Community got together on Friday, Oct. 11 to talk about the challenges ahead.
As part of Hispanic Heritage Month, Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) hosted a panel of professionals in the areas of health, education, business, police and politics. The panel talked about the challenges ahead for the Hispanic community.
"We know education is key to the success and future of any community," said Teresa Mercado, Wisconsin Hispanic Scholarship Foundation.
MATC is pushing for an increase in bilingual education.
"What we don't talk a lot about is while that population has increased, they still come in with the language barrier," said Arturo Martinez, MATC Director, Walker's Square.
The president of Forward Latino said while immigration is often thought of as the most pressing issue in the community, there is a deeper issue of economic opportunity. A recent student found Latinos in Milwaukee have the highest work participation rate, but are still largely impacted by poverty.
"When we look here at the City of Milwaukee, we don't have near the representation at the board or management level as we do the population," said Darryl Morin, President of Forward Latino.
Health care was among the topics discussed.
"The community needs to know you have rights when it comes to health care," said Andres Gonzalez, VP Chief Diversity Officer for Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin. "To be treated with dignity and respect."
People are also encouraged to speak out on crimes despite their citizenship status.
"We are here to help victims of crimes," said Eli Contreras, a Milwaukee police officer.
With the 2020 Census ahead in the same year as the presidential election, panelists say the input of the Hispanic population in the United States could reach new levels of influence.
The panel and luncheon was part of the college's Hispanic Heritage Month activities. It was hosted by the MATC Hispanic Serving Institution Task Force.