The screening of “The Longoria Affair”, a documentary by John Valadez, was an opportunity to shed some light on the under-recognized contributions of the American G.I. Forum and Dr. Hector Garcia who advanced the civil rights of Mexican-Americans in the 1950’s and 60’s. Felix E. Salinas, ESQ was the second executive Secretary to the G.I. Forum and worked closely with Dr. Garcia. It just so happens that Mr. Salinas is my deceased father’s partner. Mr. Salinas continues to practice here at the Sanchez Law building. This event was hosted by Mikaela Selley, Hispanic Archivist for the Houston Public Library. We were lucky to have in attendance our City Councilman, Roberto Gallegos and former City Councilwoman, Graciela G. Saenz. After a few words from the Councilman, we ended the evening by having a Q&A with Mr. Salinas and his history with the G.I. Forum. It would be safe to say that many in attendance did not know this part of United States history. I have known Mr. Salinas all my life and I never tire of hearing about his life’s story. What surprised me was discovering that his during his entire time working for the G.I. Forum to defend Mexican-American’s rights (in which his life was threatened more than once) that he and Dr. Garcia worked voluntarily and were never paid.
United We Dream is the organization started by those who are known as the “Dreamers”, the large community of young, undocumented immigrants living in the United States. LOCCA’s first program invited them to talk about their experiences of life living in the shadows, and then courageously out in the open and without fear of their status as residents. Our event was hosted by Veronica Bernal, an attorney representing this community in south Texas. Invited to the panel were Oscar Hernandez, Raul Alcaraz-Ochoa and Citlalli Alvarez Almendariz all organizers for UWD. Not only did we hear about their accounts of living in fear and being discovered by the authorities, but their transformation to decide not to succumb to this condition. Due to President Obama’s executive action, children who are under 31 and without resident documentation qualify for the Deferred Action for Children Arrives (DACA). DACA allows them to get a driver’s license, have a job with benefits, get a social security number, permits them to help their family financially, etc. This program has permitted this section our U.S. undocumented community to come out of the shadows to push for immigration reform and a pathway to citizenship. LOCCA’s partner, the University of Houston’s Center for Mexican American Studies, was on hand as well represented by its director, Dr. Pamela Quiroz.