People around the country are celebrating Cinco de Mayo but in Arkansas, part of the Latino community is taking this time to fight back on anti-immigration policies.
Senate Bill 411, now act 1076 was passed by Governor Hutchinson in April. The act prohibits the natural state from having sanctuary cities. We spoke with members of the Latino community after the ruling who were heartbroken by what they call a racist act.
As the community showcases their rich culture and history on the holiday weekend, immigrants are working to reverse the law that they call anti-American and anti-Arkansan.
Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican holiday that has gained popularity in the United States since the 1960s, celebrating the Mexican army’s victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
While many will celebrate with Mexican cuisine and games, the Latino community in Northwest Arkansas is revitalizing their culture
“We want to highlight the contributions of all Latinos not just Mexican people. Also all immigrants, we don’t just have representation from Mexico or Latin American countries, we have representation from all over the world,” says Xochitl Delgado, Hispanic Women’s Organization of Arkansas.
Arkansas is the fourth fastest-growing immigrant population in the country. With the flourishing Latino population, they are becoming a crucial part of the Northwest Arkansas community, bringing life and culture to the area.
“We’re seeing individuals that are not just integrating themselves into the economy but really changing the social aspects and we’re that manifest itself in a lot of exciting ways,” says Mireya Reith, Executive Director of Arkansas United Community Coalition.
However, with legislation passed in 2019, the non-profit Arkansas United says the state is becoming anti-immigration and they’re fighting back.
“To say that we’re not a region that endorses racial profiling and everybody can continue to feel that Arkansas is a safe and good place to live and do business,” says Reith.
Throughout the natural state on Cinco de Mayo weekend, advocates are teaching immigrants and community members about the law and what rights they have to stand up.
“The reason that they’re staying, the reason that they’re choosing Arkansas is because it’s a safe and friendly place for our families and somewhere where we want to live,” says Reith.
But with laws like the anti-sanctuary bill, the Arkansas United group says that might drastically change.
“We all risk potentially seeing this devastating impact of a lack of participation of our immigrants,” says Reith.
Arkansas United has been traveling throughout the natural state to engage local leaders and politicians in the fight against the anti-sanctuary city law and regain rights for the immigration population.