On 26 October 2016, at UCLA, Juárez & Associates hosted a luncheon/roundtable discussion on socioeconomic development in Central America, Mexico and the U.S. with Consuls General of Guatemala, El Salvador and Mexico. Coordinated by Octavio Pescador, the event offered the J&A Guatemala team an opportunity to share USAID Leer y Aprender project highlights with the aforementioned diplomats along with UCLA faculty, staff and students. J&A’s Guatemala Chief of Party, Fernando Rubio, shared Leer y Aprender findings on educational opportunities and workforce training for Guatemalan Highland youth. Rubio stated that “When you have better schooling opportunities, they (students) learn trades and workforce skills that allow them to place themselves in the national productive force; they prefer to stay rather than migrate.”
The Consuls General centered their comments on topics related to immigration. Consul General of Mexico, Carlos Garcia de Alba, explained that Mexicans abroad desire comprehensive immigration reform, which would be highly beneficial for the greater North America region. Consul General of El Salvador, Maria Mercedes López, indicated that many of her fellow nationals in the U.S. are covered under Temporary Protection Status (TPS) and they would benefit from a policy of family reunification under the program. Similarly, Consul General of Guatemala, Robert Archila, suggested that undocumented Guatemalans would benefit and improve their quality of life through a TPS program, a request posed on at least four occasions by his government.
UCLA professor Michael Rodriguez, Director of the UCLA Bloom Center for Poverty and Health in Latin America, indicated that greater institutional support is required to care for the mental health problems faced by immigrants in the United States. Nicandro Juárez, president of J&A, thanked all participants for communicating their insights and their contributions to this important information-sharing event, attended by about 35 academics and professionals from UCLA and the international development community in Los Angeles. It is expected that the dialog will continue during the incoming administration in Washington DC, after the November 2016 elections.