Community Spotlight: Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN) in Modern Latina

by Linda Castillo,

Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Network (SIREN) was founded by attorneys, immigrant rights activists and advocates over 31 years ago in response to the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act to assure that immigrants and refugees in Silicon Valley would have a place to land for legal services, receive support on an advocacy level for those that didn’t receive amnesty. Over the years, SIREN has grown to include policy analysis and advocacy, community education, legal services, civic engagement and community and service provider trainings.

I had a chance to speak with SIREN’s Executive Director, Maricela Gutiérrez. Maricela’s parents came from San Luís Potosí, Mexico over 40 years ago to the Central Valley, California. Growing up in a farm working rural area, she experienced firsthand the economic equity issues that are still apparent today for immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants. She saw the lack of health care, lack of well-paying jobs with benefits and overall lack of resources. She experienced 7 to 8 ICE deportation interactions growing up which formed her view of the world. She always grew up knowing she wanted to do something about it.