Immigration Marchers: Profiles

Published April 17, 2006 12:41 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2006, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rosalba Dominguez

Rosalba Dominguez was a "SOCIO" baby. Her mother was a member of the Spanish Speaking Organization for Community, Integrity and Opportunity, a defunct Utah Latino advocacy group that provided educational and job training in the 1970s and '80s.

That influence is part of the reason why Dominguez helped pass out more than 5,000 fliers at Latino nightclubs and headed the volunteer committee for last week's demonstrations.

"Growing up, I got involved little by little," said the 23-year-old Univision commercial producer. "I knew what my heritage was and I was proud of that."

When march organizers first contacted Dominguez for her help, she said she was skeptical, but later changed her mind.

Volunteering "kind of became something natural to me," she said. "It was something I needed to do."

Dominguez, a West Valley native, was the information contact for marchers who had questions about how to dress, what flags to bring and the time and place for the march and rally the following day.

"I was surprised by how many people showed up," she said. "I was very happy to be Latina that day, Mexican-American. I was happy to be from Utah."

- By Jason Bergreen

James Yapias

Seeing more than 40,000 people march for immigration reform on April 9 reaffirmed for James Yapias why, even through rough times, he continues his working as a community leader in Utah.

"It made me a believer once again," the 37-year-old Northwest Middle School assistant principal said. "That's why I'm an activist in the community."

Yapias, brother of Latino activist Tony Yapias, has been the chief executive director of Poder Para La Familia for the past 8 years. The organization provides prevention and intervention services to juvenile offenders, as well as ESL services to non-English speaking families. Yapias has worked in education since 1993.

"I'm very concerned about students and the graduation rate here and nationally," he said. " . . . Without their voice and action and them being politically involved, change won't take place."

Yapias helped with plans for a peaceful march by supplying black T-shirts and whistles for volunteer security guards and by coordinating cell phone information. He also met with businesses and community members to inform them about the march.

"This is one issue everybody came together on," Yapias said. "I was proud of everybody and their families."

- By Jason Bergreen

Frank Cordova

Frank Cordova's grandparents were born in the United States. His parents were born here, too. He was born in Colorado.

In 1968, Cordova moved to Utah as a kid to help his family pick tomatoes, cherries and green beans - a job he hopes his five children will never have to do.

Cordova, a Latino activist, said though he and his family are not undocumented, he's not going to turn his back on people who are on the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border.

"Being a Chicano, if we're fortunate to do well, then we reach back and help someone up," he said.

That's why he helped organize the more than 100 volunteer security guards for the demonstrations.

Regardless of how many generations some Latino families have been here, Cordova said they are still discriminated against and told "to go back from where you came from."

We are treated "with no dignity," said Cordova, director of Utah Coalition of La Raza, a nonpartisan advocacy civil rights organization.

- Jennifer W. Sanchez

Mauricio Avila

Latin American Cultural and

Educational Association

While walking at the front of last week's immigration march in Salt Lake City, 30-year-old Mauricio Avila saw a lot of people crying.

"It was very emotional," said the president of the Latin American Cultural and Educational Association of Ogden. "It's something that gives you peace in your heart and confidence that you can accomplish something."

The group doesn't have a budget, Avila said, so its 20 board members spent roughly $2,000 from their own pockets to print thousands of fliers and posters about the demonstrations. It worked.

Between 500 and 1,000 cars full of people came from Ogden, Logan and Clearfield to attend, Avila said.

"The marchers gave me what I'm looking for," said Avila, an auto mechanic. "People want to see change in their community. . . . I'm an immigrant. Everybody's looking for a better life and to become legal."

- By Jason Bergreen



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