Latino organization to hold 2017 national convention in Phoenix

Janet Murguía, president and CEO of the National Council of La Raza talks about the impact and history of the Latino community in Arizona during a news conference in downtown Phoenix on Friday Oct. 7, 2016. (Photo by Alejandro Barahona/Cronkite News)

Seven years after organizing a 16-month boycott of Arizona over anti-immigration legislation, the National Council of La Raza will hold its 2017 national convention in Phoenix, NCLR president and CEO Janet Murguia said Friday.

The national convention, scheduled to take place July 8-11 at the Phoenix Convention Center, will bring an “economic boom” to Phoenix, according to Murguia, as previous conferences have contributed at least $17 million each year to cities hosting the conferences, she said.

NCLR launched nearly 50 years ago in Phoenix and works with nearly 300 affiliates across the country to provide resources and opportunities to Latinos.

“That we started here is a testament to the civil rights legacy of this city, where leaders and organizations have worked for decades to ensure equal rights and equal opportunity for the millions of Hispanics who call Arizona home,” she said during the news conference at the Bank of America Tower.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton and other guest speakers welcomed the announcement and addressed various issues that face Arizona’s Latino community.

The announcement to host the national convention in Phoenix is big news for NCLR because the organization formally launched a boycott against Arizona in 2010 because of Arizona passing the controversial immigration law SB 1070, which NCLR claims has enabled and enforced racial profiling of minorities.

“We have to admit that it was because of Senate Bill 1070 that created this movement, that angered our communities, that forced us to go to the streets,” said Petra Falcon, executive director of Promise Arizona.

During the news conference, Stanton discussed how the city of Phoenix plans to “repair the relationship” between Mexico and Arizona, and that Phoenix will continue to “build bridges and not walls.”

“Phoenix is absolutely thrilled and proud to host NCLR’s 2017 annual conference and Latino family expo,” Stanton said.

The conference was also an opportunity for the speakers to discuss education and Latino voter outreach in Arizona.

Currently, One Arizona, an organization that has also lead voter registration efforts, said it has registered more than 120,000 new voters in Arizona in 2016.

Murguia said that NCLR has also registered nearly half a million new voters nationally and is educating voters about candidates.

“It’s been important for us to register all those who are eligible and then to make sure that they are also educated voters,” she said.