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Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month During Pandemic

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Thursday, September 17, 2020   

LINCOLN, Neb. -- On an average year, September kicks off Hispanic Heritage Month with festivals full of food and dancing, celebrating the history and cultures across Latin America and Spain.

Rose Godinez, legal and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska, said this year, many are caring for or mourning family members and neighbors who have contracted COVID-19.

"Sixty percent of COVID-19 cases trace back to a Hispanic individual," Godinez said. "And we're also seeing that Hispanics are more likely to die from COVID-19 in Nebraska than in any other state in the country."

ACLU Nebraska has published a list of actions Nebraskans can take to honor Hispanic Heritage Month by supporting Hispanic communities.

There's a petition urging Gov. Pete Ricketts to stand up to meatpacking plant owners to protect workers, and a call for ending an agreement that deputizes the Dakota County Sheriff's Department as ICE agents.

In 2016, Hispanic Nebraskans had a low voter turnout compared with non-Hispanics, and Godinez said the importance of registering and voting in the November election cannot be overstated.

"Not only at the national level, but the local level where you elect your school board members, your senators, who decide a lot of the everyday issues that are impacting Hispanics today," Godinez explained.

Godinez also encouraged people to follow Hispanic-led grassroots groups on social media, make a donation if possible, and sign up to be a volunteer.

"Many of these organizations don't have actual staff; they are completely dependent on volunteers," Godinez said. "And if you're able to dedicate even just hours of your time, that really goes a long way in helping Hispanics across Nebraska."

She said the easiest way to help Hispanic Nebraskans is to make sure all residents are counted in the 2020 census.

She emphasized a controversial citizenship question was banned by the U.S. Supreme Court, and any information collected cannot be shared with ICE or other agencies.


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