Sabor De Las Americas Or Flavor Of The Americas Make Its Debut In Biloxi

The festival serves as a sign of just how much Latino communities have grown here in South Mississippi and the issue of immigration many of them are facing.  In its premier year, Flavor of the Americas tried to offer a taste of culture from Latinos across the globe.

As Latinos from outside the U.S. work to make Mississippi and places throughout the U.S. their new home, immigration is an issue we all face.

"Immigration issues effect all of us whether we realize it or not. It's a lot of how the rebuilding is done here on the coast, a lot of our produce comes from people who are dealing with those issues. I think we need to find a delicate balance with how we deal with that," Linda Miranda, Hispanic Latino Ministries, United Methodist Church.

'We are not criminals', that's the message Socorro Leos is trying to send when it comes to immigrant workers in the U.S.

"Whatever country you go in the world as an immigrant. You have to work and you deserve to be paid and you have to make a living and support the family that you leave behind," says Socorro Leos, Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance.

Cirilo Villa and Linda Miranda work closely with the coast's Hispanic community.  They agree with Leos there is a dire need for immigration reform.

"Some people are working here with a status but the process of immigration tends to not let you go back and forth to your country and they have to wait 10, 12, 13 years. People want to hear about good comprehensive reform because that will mean re-unification for the families," says Leos.

Until comprehensive immigration reform can be passed by lawmakers, Villa thinks the issue will continue to divide communities

"Instead of helping to grow the community, they are dividing the community. We can live in the same community and we can make this country better than what it is much much better if we all work together," says Cirilo Villa, Volunteer Our Lady De Fatima.

"This country was created with multiple cultures. I think once you're here for a long time you forget and that's what they need to remember," says Leos.