Statement from the Lori Kaplan, President & CEO of LAYC
Latin American Youth Center (LAYC) would like to extend its most sincere condolences to the family of Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car rammed into a crowd of counter protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on August 12, 2017. Heather was killed standing up for her values, standing up for her hopes for a just and good world. Every day LAYC encourages its young people to speak out on the issues that impact their lives. We do so hoping that they are empowered by using their voices. We are heartsick that Heather raised her voice against hatred and bigotry and lost her life doing so. LAYC condemns the act of hatred and bigotry that took her young life way too soon.
For the past 50 years, LAYC has stood for unity, tolerance, respect, and the important work of ending the scourges of racism, anti-immigrant sentiment, and oppression in our country and around the world. At LAYC we live by the simple and most basic values of inclusiveness, no matter someone’s gender, race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. Every day our staff rises above the racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and hatred that we heard expressed this past week and that we will, unfortunately, surely hear over the weeks to come.
As the leader of an organization that works with young people, I know the profound impact that adults have in the lives of children. The current administration’s comments lack the moral turpitude that one should expect from our nation’s highest office. At a time when young people are looking to adults for reassurance, they are hearing nothing from the President of the United States that is reassuring or representative of our country’s values.
Anti-immigrant sentiment was spreading unchecked before the events in Charlottesville. It has only been emboldened by our President’s words and actions. Just this week the administration officially ended a program enacted under President Obama that allowed youth under the age of 18 from Central America temporary legal residence in the U.S. if a parent was already legally in residence here. Over 2,700 youth must now reapply to stay with their families in this country. Just one more attack on our nation’s immigrant youth.
LAYC will continue to stand for more. We will continue to stand with others who are fighting for a better nation and world for our young people.