News 11's Adonis Albright sits down with Reyes to talk about the significance of this national holiday
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Tony Reyes has been in public service for years. He was the mayor of San Luis for more than a decade, and also spearheaded the nonprofit Comité de Bien Estar, changing the lives of countless Latinos in our community.
"We are now a very encompassing organization, we do a lot more things than just simply provide opportunity for housing. We have nutrition programs, we have transportation programs, we have a lot more things that help improve the quality of life than housing... I mean, housing has been the basis for a lot of these things. We believe that when you provide housing to anyone - especially immigrants that are coming into this country - you give them a basis in which to improve not only their economic and social status, but also their kids, the next generation," said Reyes.
He's been on the board of supervisors since 2001, representing the city of San Luis, Gadsden, and parts of Somerton.
"I'm an immigrant, my parents brought me to this country when I was young, very young, very small. So I've lived most of my life in this country."
Reyes also had the honor and privilege of meeting Cesar Chavez, who is known across the nation - and even the world - for his tireless advocacy for the rights of day laborers. Hailing from San Luis, Arizona, Chavez paved the way for our agricultural workers for years to come, predominantly Hispanics.
"It was just my luck that I was the Mayor at the time, so not only did I join him in some of his marches, but I also was aware when he was in town, what he was doing, and I had an opportunity to not only have conversations, but actually share."
This Hispanic Heritage Month, Reyes wants to highlight the contributions of our Hispanic community. He said lately, the narrative has largely centered around the ongoing crisis at the southern border.
"It's really uncomfortable to me to see the message that we get, or the views that we get of immigrants or Hispanics are tied into illegal immigration, are tied into what's happening at the border, and how many people are trying to cross illegally. When in this country of immigrants, we make up - probably in these next few years, we'll be the majority in this country."
Reyes describes this Hispanic heritage month as an opportunity.
"[We're] Working to make it so that Hispanics are what they should be, and what they are, actually. A very, very important part of a society. They offer us a lot of improvements culturally, socially and economically."