Photo: Utah Capitol
Citing “intense legislative debate about immigration” and a tight budget, state officials have asked even organizers to postpone next month’s Latino Day at the Capitol event until after the legislative session has ended.
“After great consideration given the state budget reductions being proposed and the intense legislative debate about immigration being anticipated, our Office of Ethnic Affairs has come to the decision that it would be best to postpone Latino Day at the Capitol until after the legislative session,” said an official e-mail signed by the director of Latino/Hispanic Affairs for the Office of Ethnic Affairs, Silvia Castro.
Castro’s e-mail has angered some Latino leaders who believe appeasing the state and postponing the event only fans the flames of the immigration controversy being debating across the state and the country.
The secretary of the bipartisan Latino Legislative Task Force, Ernie Gamonal, however, points out that the e-mail does not say the event needs to be canceled, nor does it state that it HAS to be postponed. says the state has merely made a request and not a demand. The event can go on if organizers wish it to, the state—Office of Ethnic Affairs—will just not be a part of it. Gamonal did find it curious though, that Castro would feel the need to reference the immigration debate in the e-mail as a reason for pulling out.
“The person who wrote it ... she is a bright person,” he said. “Why she put that in there, I don’t know. She’s not one I know to commonly make mistakes, but this e-mail came out at 3:30 [p.m. Wednesday] and I have not had a conversation with the director of ethnic affairs or the director of Hispanic affairs for that matter. I’ve worked with both of them in the past, I will work with both of them in the future.”
If the event, scheduled for February 16h, is not postponed, the Office of Ethnic Affairs will not participate, and their $500 contribution will not be received. The task force said that money was to be used for drinks, food, and a band to play the National Anthem. Attendees were also expected to have the opportunity to meet with lawmakers, but with the state only willing to take part if Latino Day is moved to a later date, that will likely not happen.
“Latino Day is not a political event,” said Richard Jamarillo, Democratic co-chairman of the Utah Legislative Task Force. “It doesn’t have anything to do with — in any way shape or form — immigration legislation. It has traditionally been a way to honor the economic and social contributions to America.”
While groups have already stepped up to cover the deficit of the Office of Ethnic Affairs’ $500, Gamonal says he is “disappointed they pulled out,” but hopes the state will participate in next year’s event.
If it happens, this will be the 3rd Annual Latino Day at the Capitol.