An estimated 2,000 Latinos are expected to attend the National Council of La Raza’s annual conference, which kicks off Saturday in Kansas City, Missouri.
NCLR prides itself as the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. The four-day conference is garnering the national political spotlight - the top three Democratic presidential candidates will address the Latino advocates and leaders gathered at the event.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is scheduled to speak Monday morning at a town hall forum. Also speaking Monday during a luncheon are former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is considered the Democratic front-runner in the race for president, and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley.
The candidates are “expected to address issues vital to Latinos and all Americans: jobs and the economy, civil rights, immigration, education and more,” according to NCLR.
Republican presidential candidates were invited to attend but none are scheduled to speak.
The conference comes several weeks after Republican presidential hopeful Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, was the only Republican to speak at the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ annual conference in Las Vegas. Sanders and Clinton also spoke at the NALEO conference.
It also comes as at a time when Latino leaders are urging Republican presidential candidates to counter remarks surrounding Donald Trump after his controversial comments that Mexico is sending "rapists" and "criminals" to the U.S.
The conference takes place in Missouri, a state which has experienced strong Latino growth over the last few years. Currently, Latinos make up nearly 4 percent of the state's population and 10 percent of Kansas City residents. Between 2000 and 2010, Missouri's Latino population grew by 79.2 percent, according to the U.S. Census.