SPRINGDALE, Ark (KFSM) — This weekend in Springdale, the immigrant community of Arkansas listened and asked questions to a panel of lawmakers and community leaders.
For those who are new to the U.S., knowing who to reach out to for help can be tough, especially when there’s a language barrier. In a two day event, Arkansas United provided information for immigrants and the overall Hispanic community about their rights and concerns over citizenship.
Valentina Simon works with a local church ministry and says the lack of voter registration is a main concern. Northwest Arkansas is booming in diversity numbers, but leaders feel it’s one of the most under counted areas when it comes to immigration population. They’re urging people to register to vote and to fill out the 2020 census.
“It unfortunately affects the outcome of everything because we get funds for school, funds for healthcare, funds for education and lots of other programs that could help us but we don’t vote,” said Simon.
There were 150 members of Arkansas United from all over the state here for the weekend convention. The goal of the event was to empower immigrants and promote growth within Arkansas.
“Part of our work here in this continuum of leadership is helping our immigrants not be afraid to own their stories, but at the same time in this environment, it’s knowing the places and how to share those stories so we can protect them,” said Mireya Reith, Founding Executive Director for Arkansas United.
Reith says education and understanding is the key to a more diverse and inclusive area.
“Just looking at our economy, looking at the growth of Northwest Arkansas, we actually gain so much more when we can embrace and integrate the diversity, but that takes some intentionality,” said Reith.