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Latino students set to host immigration forums at UNGs Gainesville campus
UNG Gainesville

Immigration forum

When: Noon to 2 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Wednesday

Where: University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus, Student Center-Robinson Ballroom, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood

Latino Student Association members at the University of North Georgia’s Gainesville campus are hoping the forums on immigration they are organizing for Wednesday will address fears, concerns and myths prevalent in the community.

Natalie Morales Villa, a junior majoring in political science and sociology at UNG, said the current political climate over immigration gave rise to the idea of holding such a discussion.

“We wanted to do something to help the immigrant community in Gainesville,” Morales Villa said. “There is fear and concern. Many are wondering, ‘What’s next?’”

Rony Casas, another Latino Student Association member, said the group wants to dispel some of the myths associated with immigration — including that those living here without legal papers have no rights at all.

“We’re trying to inform the community about the myths that are out there,” Casas said. “The forum will allow them to ask any questions they may have to the panelists that will be coming in Wednesday.”

The panel includes state Rep. Brenda Lopez, who is the first Latina elected to the State House. The Gwinnett County Democrat from Norcross represents House District 99.

Lopez, 34, is a practicing attorney in Norcross who specializes in immigration legal services.

Also on the panel are UNG graduate Maria Palacios — program coordinator for leadership development and policy with the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials — and Jaime Rangel, a lobbyist with the Donnelly McDonald Group and GALEO executive committee member.

Morales Villa said the forum from noon to 2 p.m. is geared more to UNG students and will be in English. However, she said the event from 6-8 p.m. will be in English and Spanish, and it is intended for broader community appeal

The student credits Robert Robinson, director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs at UNG, with encouraging students to reach out to the community.

“We want people in the community to know they have rights whether they are documented or undocumented,” Morales Villa said. “More than anything else, we want to send the message that they are not alone.”

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