The fight for immigrant rights continues to be an uphill battle as both Congress refuses to act and the current administration is relentless in its efforts to deport and oppress the communities we serve. Despite the challenges we face, over the last few weeks the rise in youth activism across the country has shown us that our youth has tremendous power and can be the drivers of change.
In this e-newsletter, we proudly share the work of SIREN youth leaders who are fighting for immigrant rights. With bravery and a feeling of duty to their families and communities, they inspire our staff, clients, friends and donors every day – reminding us that we must continue to push forward for justice and never give up.
On behalf of the SIREN team, thank you for your support and for standing with immigrants and refugees. We ask you to invite your family, friends, colleagues and communities to join our movement, and become a member, donor, and/or volunteer. Together, we will resist and persevere.
In community spirit,
SIREN YOUTH LEADERS MARCH FOR A CLEAN DREAM ACT
On March 5, 2018, hundreds of high school and college students walked out of classrooms across San Jose to urge congressional action on a Clean DREAM Act and Temporary Protective Status, and also denounce recent abusive ICE actions in Northern and Central California that resulted in 232 people being detained. The local action, led by SIREN was part of the National Day of Action for a Clean DREAM Act, joined actions across the U.S. and a civil disobedience campaign in Washington D.C., urging Congress to act.
As students converged on the plaza in front of San Jose City Hall, speakers took the stage to share why they felt the need for action. Several of the speakers were DREAMers, and they addressed the personal impact of the Trump Administration ending the DACA program and Congress failing to act to find a permanent solution for the affected young people.
As student speaker Amairani said, “DACA has given me the opportunity to work and go to college. I have protection from immigration because of DACA, but for how long?”
SIREN Youth Leader Nithya stated in her speech, “ICE has deported, is deporting and wants to deport even more people who came to this country to chase the American Dream, the ideal upon which this country was founded, to escape violence and hardship in their native countries, and to live a normal life where they can feel safe and protected”.
Join us in supporting our SIREN youth leaders by becoming a donor today. There is much work ahead in the fight for immigrant rights, and to make possible a Clean DREAM Act.
CARMEN’S STORY: A SIREN YOUTH PROFILE
Carmen was born in Sinaloa, México. She immigrated to the United States with her mom when she was just two and a half years old. She currently is a third year student at San Jose State University and is majoring in Sociology with a Business minor. She is planning to become a mental health counselor who focuses on rehabilitation. Her goal is to use her career to help the immigrant community heal from the traumatic experiences they have had to endure.
Growing up, Carmen always knew that she was different. She would compare her skin color to the rest of her classmates who were mostly white. However, the first time she realized that she was undocumented was when she wanted to travel with her classmates to Washington D.C., and her mother explained why she could not go. At that moment, she realized that her legal status would prevent her from doing many things in the future.
With hard work and determination, Carmen has overcome many obstacles, having found encouragement and support from the Puente Program and her high school counselor. The DACA program also created a path for her to pursue her dreams. She will be graduating from San Jose State University in one year.
“I became a Youth Fellow for SIREN because of the great need in the immigrant community. I have learned about so many resources that are available. Best of all, as a fellow, I can share these resources with my community. I am so thankful to SIREN for being my support system when I see all of these hateful things occurring. SIREN is a source of reliable information for me and my family, but most importantly, SIREN is a symbol of hope. I know that through SIREN there are people who will stand up to fight against all the injustices occurring within our immigrant community. I am not alone.”
REGISTERING THE NEXT GENERATION OF VOTERS
SIREN youth leaders have been working hard to pre-register eligible 16 and 17 year olds so they are ready to vote when they turn 18. They have spent countless hours at marches, rallies, and other events in their communities speaking with young people about the importance of making their voices heard at the ballot box.
Recently, SIREN brought together Silicon Valley and Central Valley youth for a weekend training on building youth power. We are invigorated by their dedication and commitment to the fight for justice.
SIREN invites you to join our efforts by volunteering or encouraging the young people in your life to pre-register today through the CA Secretary of State’s office at RegisterToVote.ca.gov.
They also have a handy pre-registration toolkit for any teacher, parent, or student who wants to start a pre-registration drive in their community:
SIREN UPDATE ON OMNIBUS SPENDING BILL
On March 23, 2018 Trump signed a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill sent to him by Congress. Despite desperate pleas of DREAMers to include a permanent solution to address the termination of DACA within this must-pass spending bill, there was no such solution included. Instead, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle approved billions of dollars more to fund Trump’s war on immigrants. While this may have been less funding than what Trump wanted, it will still fuel the detention and deportation machine that is tearing apart families and causing terror in immigrant communities.
- The final bill includes $14 billion for Customs and Border Patrol (CBP), an increase of nearly $2 billion from last year, including funding for border militarization and fencing and hiring additional agents.
- While the spending bill requires some limited accountability measures, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) got a $7 billion increase in funding for detention beds, Homeland Security Investigators, and ICE attorneys.
- An increase of $65 million was provided for Immigration Judge teams.
Even though there was less money approved than Trump wanted, this is by no means should be considered a victory for immigrants.
SIREN’s Executive Director Maricela Gutiérrez commented, “It’s clear that the majority of Congress is more concerned with fueling Trump’s racist and xenophobic war on immigrants than finding a permanent solution for DREAMers. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, including several from California, voted in favor of this omnibus delivered to Trump. Most notable of those who voted Yes are local Representatives Nancy Pelosi, Anna Eshoo, Jim Costa and David Valadao, all of whom SIREN has recently met with to express our concerns. To put it plainly, they failed us by endorsing his deportation machine and turned their backs on DREAMers with their votes. Congress needs to develop a backbone and fight back against Trump’s agenda that terrorizes immigrants in our communities.”
DONATE TO HELP IMMIGRANTS AND REFUGEES
Please consider donating to SIREN to continue to support the struggle for immigrant and refugee rights, that starts with the leadership of the amazing youth we featured here! DONATE HERE!