Mayela Razo has lived in the United States for nearly 20 years. She and her husband emigrated from Mexico and now reside in the Seven Trees neighborhood of San Jose where they have made their home and raised their two sons.
Four years ago, Mayela learned about the SIREN leadership development program though Daniel Lairon Elementary School, where her son was a student. She became involved through a leadership training that was offered and, thanks to that course, was able to better understand her rights as an immigrant and learned how she could organize her community.
She also learned about the process of creating an advocacy campaign and, together with the other SIREN Leaders, Mayela put what she learned into practice by launching campaigns advocating for driver licenses for undocumented individuals and against unjust car impoundments in San Jose.
Under this campaign, the Leaders spoke to and obtained the opinions of more than 500 community members on these topics, and with the help of other community groups, managed to have a new ordinance put in place in San Jose that would prevent the unnecessary impoundment of cars in the city. A year later, the State of California continued these efforts and implemented a similar policy statewide.
Today, Mayela has strengthened her public speaking skills and regularly testifies before local and state elected officials, sharing her story and advocating for immigrant communities. She has also taken a lead in SIREN’s community education efforts by providing informative presentations to various community groups on topics including AB 60 driver licenses, and the new administrative relief policies, DACA and DAPA.
But aside from the personal development she has experienced, Mayela is especially grateful for SIREN’s commitment to family inclusion in the program and activities. For example, when Mayela was invited to be part of Immigrant Day at the State Capitol in Sacramento, her sons were also invited to participate. Together, they learned about the state’s history and civic process, were able to meet and speak with their representatives about the contributions immigrants bring to the State of California, and advocate for more just and inclusive laws. Mayela knows that while she may not be able to give her kids everything they want, with the help of SIREN, she is able to instill in them a passion for education and civic engagement, creating a better future for our country.
Before being involved with SIREN, Mayela shared many of the same worries immigrants across the country face. But now, she feels supported and is confident that SIREN will continue advocating for her family and her community, and she is hopeful knowing she is not helpless in this country.
Mayela knows that there are many laws that affect her and her family, some positively and some not so much, but she feels secure knowing that SIREN will continue working to ensure that laws put in place will improve the quality of life for everyone.