The National Legislative Conference and Awards Gala is an important annual event for LULAC because it allows our members to participate in discussions regarding issues that impact our community such as immigration reform, education, health and technology. The workshops include issue experts who provide valuable information to the members. With the information gained through these discussions, our members help to ensure that we have legislation that reflects our needs.
LULAC's 17th Annual Legislative Conference and Awards Gala took place in Washington D.C. in February. The conference was attended by Members of Congress, regulators, state elected officials and LULAC members from across the country. In addition to providing forums for discussion on critical legislative issues, LULAC, the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization, took great pride in hosting an awards gala which honored the accomplishments of its distinguished award recipients.
LULAC was especially proud of the success of the inaugural Emerge Latino Conference. This multi-day leadership event provided college students with the opportunity to participate in public policy briefings on critical issues. Congressman Jeff Denham was honored at the Emerge Latino Collegiate Luncheon with the LULAC Legislative Award for his commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.
LULAC also hosted a technology luncheon where Texas Senator Wendy Davis was recognized with the Presidential Award for her commitment to strengthening the public school system in Texas.
At the awards gala, the National Service Award was presented to the Honorable Thomas E. Perez, Secretary of Labor. In his acceptance speech, the Secretary issued a call to action where he sought support for fair wages; comprehensive immigration reform; redoubling the efforts to sign people up for the Affordable Care Act; and calling on our fellow Latinos to register and vote in upcoming elections.
The Long Standing Service Award was bestowed upon Eliseo Medina, who accepted the award and in his remarks made a passionate call for immigration reform. Mr. Medina made the compelling point that the cost of doing nothing on immigration reform is more deaths; more children being torn from their families and allowing a status quo that is making a mockery out of a country of immigrants.
The National Presidential Award was presented to the Honorable Leticia Van de Putte, Texas State Senator. The Texas Senator, who is running for Lieutenant Governor, highlighted the significant power of the Latino vote and called upon those in attendance to press politicians to support the issues that improve the quality of life for our community.
LULAC was founded by a group of young Latinos who wanted to change the social conditions that put them at a disadvantage during the 1920s. Today, we stand at the precipice of significant change that could impact the Latino community for generations to come. It is of the upmost importance that we engage in the debate on issues that will decide the future well-being of our community.