Archive | June 2012

Supreme Court Upholds Some Provisions but Largely Overturns Arizona SB1070

Richmond, Va. – On Monday, June 25th, 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court largely struck down Arizona’s harsh anti-immigrant law, yet left one controversial provision intact. Of the four provisions that were at issue were Sections 2B, 3, 5C, and 6. Section 2B requires that during any arrest, traffic stop, or detention, if an officer has “reasonable suspicion” the the person may be undocumented, the officer must determine that person’s immigration status. The struck-down provisions included Section 3 (making it a crime under Arizona law to violate a Federal immigration law), Section 5C (making it a crime under Arizona law for an undocumented immigrant to work or seek work), and Section 6 (allowing for warrantless arrests if there is probable cause to believe the person has committed a crime that renders that person removable from the Country).

Largely, this was a decision that upheld Federal supremacy in immigration law and enforces the responsibility and obligation of the Federal Government to protect the borders of the United States as a whole, rather than allowing individual states to create a patchwork of immigration laws. The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce urges the General Assembly not to pass more laws that harm Virginia’s business and labor climate, and instead calls for comprehensive immigration reform at the Federal Level.

“There are always going to be extremists calling for even more aggressive laws and enforcement in Virginia,” says Michel Zajur, President of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “But, Virginia’s leaders have charted a more sensible approach over the past decade that protects Virginia’s global reputation as a great place to do business while addressing concerns about the impacts of the broken federal immigration system.”

While federal law already requires aliens in the United States for more than 30 days to register with the U.S. Government and have those papers in their possession at all times, the upheld provision of the law, Section 2B, could invite discriminatory profiling as officers, under Section 2B, are required to request papers of anyone they suspect may be in the country illegally. The Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is aware that of the existing Virginia law that all persons arrested must have their immigration status, and urges the General Assembly not to extend status checks to persons who are stopped for routine traffic and other stops. Creating a culture of discomfort and uncertainty for Hispanics in the Commonwealth would negatively impact the economy.

Article written by Demas Boudreaux, VAHCC Political Affairs.

“Habla V.A.” Spanish-language Podcast with the Details on Free Resources for Virginia’s Latino community

Check out our Spanish-language podcast with in-depth information on the free resources available to the Latino community in Virginia. This week, we interview Claudia Perez, Parent Educator of the Early Childhood Development Initiative, who offers tips and info from her free workshops.

Escuche al nuestro podcast en español con información a fondo sobre los recursos gratuitos disponibles a la comunidad latina de Virginia. Este semana, hablamos con Claudia Perez, la Educadora de los Padres de la Iniciativa del Desarrollo de la Niñez Temprana, y ella ofrece consejo y información sobre sus talleres gratuitos.

Join us for a special national webinar on US-Colombia Trade with US Ambassador to Colombia & US Dept. of Commerce

THURSDAY June 21, 2012   4:30 EDT

Build It Here, Sell It In Colombia!

The U.S.-Colombia Webinar will offer you information, contacts and support resources for your decision to sell outside the United States, or to add a market to your current export operations.

Key U.S. exports will gain immediate duty-free access to Colombia, including almost all products in these sectors: agriculture and construction equipment, aircraft and parts, auto parts, fertilizers and agro-chemicals, information technology equipment, medical and scientific equipment, and wood.
Webinar Presenters  
Michael McKinley
U.S. Ambassador to Colombia, U.S. Department of State 
Alejandra Y. Castillo
National Deputy Director, Minority Business Development Agency
 U.S. Department of Commerce
Michael Masserman
Executive Director for Export Policy, Promotion & Strategy
International Trade Association, U.S. Department of Commerce
To Participate In The Webinar
1. Log-in to
2. Call 800-779-5793 and use password MBDA 

Pioneer Hispanic Astronaut Acaba to be Featured in Live Student Q&A from Space

joe acaba nasa

Joe Acaba, the first Puerto Rican astronaut, will be among those on board the ISS to conduct a live video Q&A with students at the Science Museum of Virginia on July 5th.

Richmond, VA – NASA, in collaboration with the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, the Science Museum of Virginia, Univision, and the National Institute of Aerospace, will host a live in-flight downlink on July 5th at the Science Museum to provide students with the rare opportunity to talk to NASA astronauts who are currently in space. The Q&A will feature the astronauts on board the ISS (International Space Station), including Joe Acaba, the first Puerto Rican astronaut.

Students attending the event will be able to directly communicate with the astronauts as they provide insight into living and working in space. Univision will provide national coverage of these inspirational interviews.

Michel Zajur, President of the Virginia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says “This event allows Hispanic students to learn first-hand about the opportunities available to them through pursuing higher education and aspiring to achieve their dreams. Speaking to NASA astronauts will provide insight to the exciting possibilities of careers in science and technology,”. Zajur goes on to say, “The future of the United States depends on an educated future workforce to compete on the global market, and many of tomorrow’s scientists and astronauts will be coming from the rapidly growing Hispanic community. With initiatives like this event,we hope to promote science and engineering to these young people.”

The VAHCC Foundation’s educational program, ‘Passport to Education,” is taking action toward this initiative by providing Hispanic students and families with resources and educational opportunities to achieve their full academic potential and to pursue higher education. “Passport to Education” has worked closely with NASA, Univision, the National Institute of Aerospace, and the Science Museum of Virginia to invite Hispanic students and families to the event, featuring on-board Hispanic astronaut Acaba as a role model for the Hispanic community. In addition to the event on July 5th, the “Passport to Education” program has been working with NASA to organize summer camps for Hispanic youth to promote the study of science and technology.

Univision will broadcast a special featuring NASA’s “Summer of Innovation Program”,  the interaction with the astronaut and its impact on Hispanic students who have participated in NASA-inspired initiatives.

Terri Rose, Director of Communications and Curiosity at the Science Museum of Virginia, inviting families to take part in this enriching event, said, “The Science Museum is a place for people to dream.  Kids attending this event will be inspired to become an astronaut or invent the next space station.” Families wishing to attend may email for registration.

This public event will be broadcast live on


Richmond’s RVA Branding Campaign Receives National Attention on


In early 2010, students at Virginia Commonwealth University’s Brandcenter were charged with devising a new brand for the entire city–a task all the more daunting given that Richmond, Virginia, has long had a strong, deeply embedded identity. This is the former seat of the Confederacy, the heart of Colonial America, the place where you go to learn about battlefields and founding fathers and early U.S. history. That sepia-toned legacy, though, in many ways sits at odds with the portrait of a cutting-edge community that Richmond’s innovation champions now want to project.

Venture Richmond, a downtown booster group, wanted something that would instead convey creativity, dynamism, and innovation. The city had quietly been transforming into a more creative place, a hub of eclectic interests from indie music to mountain biking to biotechnology. But hardly anyone outside of Richmond, it seemed, knew anything about this. And then it turned out that plenty of locals in Richmond weren’t convinced the city needed a new identity anyway. “There are some people, very significant leaders in the Richmond area, who felt like, ‘No it’s not about creativity, it’s about history,’” says Kelly O’Keefe, professor and former managing director of the Brandcenter, the university’s top-tier advertising school. Read more.

Virginia student graduates from high school, braces for deportation

Photo credit:

(from the Washington Post. View source.)

(Chesterfield, Va.) Mother and daughter sat together in their basement apartment last Thursday, deadlocked in the same conversation they had been having for weeks. The daughter’s high school graduation party was scheduled for the next night, but she had yet to hand out a single invitation. The store-bought cards were still wrapped in plastic on the kitchen table next to a box of cap-and-gown-shaped confetti.

“Don’t you want to enjoy this one last thing?” asked Dora Aldana, 40, the mother.

“Why bother?” said Heydi Mejia, 18, the daughter.

Why bother: It had become her answer for so many things during the past five months, ever since immigration officials raided their apartment and her senior year became a countdown to deportation. Why bother celebrating a diploma that would mean nothing in her new life, with friends she might not see again, who wore class T-shirts that read: “Bring on Tomorrow!” and traded tips about decorating their dorm rooms?

“For me, this week feels more like a dead end,” Mejia said.

She would graduate from Meadowbrook High School on Friday, her blue gown decorated with awards from the National Honor Society, the school’s AP program and the Virginia governor.

She was scheduled to be deported to Guatemala a few days later.

In the election-year debate over immigration reform, the situation Mejia is in has become one of the most debated of all. What should the United States do with illegal immigrants who come to the country as children, grow up here, break no laws and want to remain? In Mejia’s case, what should be done with an illegal immigrant who came to the country at age 4; who speaks better English than Spanish; who wants to attend Randolph-Macon College in Virginia and become a nurse; whose knowledge about modern Guatemala comes in part from what she’s read on Wikipedia?

Republicans and Democrats have drafted legislative proposals that would grant permanent residency to top students, but so far no bill has generated enough support to become law. In an attempt at a temporary solution, President Obama has instructed immigration officials to review cases and grant leniency to a small number of the most deserving students. Now a process that was once a simple matter of legal or illegal has become a question of merit.

A salutatorian from Texas was granted a last-minute reprieve after 2,000 people rallied on her behalf. A valedictorian in Miami avoided deportation in March by collecting 100,000 signatures and traveling to Washington for a news conference with a Republican congressman.

But what happens when you’re ranked No. 22 at a suburban high school outside Richmond, where politicians haven’t responded to your calls and school officials aren’t sure whether to spell your name Heydi or Heidi?

Late this spring, while her friends stayed late after AP classes to fill out college applications, Mejia and her mother hired an immigration lawyer in Manassas to file a motion to reopen their case. The lawyer explained that nothing in the law offered Mejia reason to hope. Democrats had yet to pass their Dream Act, which would create a path to citizenship for students who came to the country as minors and completed two years of college or military service. A Republican congressman had only recently introduced the Stars Act, which would give illegal immigrants a chance to finish college and earn permanent residency. Read more.

Looking to do business with Uncle Sam?

Hear VAHCC Supporter Doña Storey, CEO of GovTips LCC, share tips with Work It, Richmond.

doña storey vahcc david watson photo

Doña Storey, CEO of GovTips LLC speaking last month at the VAHCC luncheon at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

We had the pleasure of having Ms. Storey speak at the VAHCC Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond luncheon last month, and congratulate her for her continued success!