Fresno establishes ‘long overdue’ immigration committee — but it has no funding


FEBRUARY 17, 2019 06:00 AM,

UPDATED FEBRUARY 17, 2019 02:08 PM


Fresno immigrant advocates believe a “long overdue” new advisory committee will make a dent on issues affecting the local immigrant community — despite having no funding attached.

The Fresno City Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution to establish a 15-member immigrant affairs committee. The committee will be tasked with advising the City Council on issues related to immigrants, according to the resolution. 

In June 2017, the City Council turned down a proposal to establish a legal defense fund for immigrants facing deportation.

The proposal asked for the city to include $200,000 in its 2017-18 budget for its contribution to the public-private legal fund that had been pushed by immigration and civil rights advocates.

Some acknowledged that not having to make an upfront funding commitment for the advisory committee might have played a role in the unanimous support for Thursday’s resolution. 

Samuel Molina, state director for Mi Familia Vota, said he and others had been advocating for the committee for about a year and a half. 

“It’s long overdue,” Molina said.

While he agreed that having no funding attached might have contributed to the passage of the resolution, he believes the committee can accomplish several things.

For example, it shows the immigrant community that the City Council stands with them and takes their concerns seriously, he said. The committee has the potential to address several issues within the immigrant community, like transition into citizenship and language barriers.

Plus, similar committees in other jurisdictions have shown to be effective. “Committees have worked to develop strategic plans on addressing immigrant issues and needs,” he said.

Council Member Luis Chavez said the city has to start somewhere when it comes to communicating with the immigrant community and including immigrants in the city’s decision-making process.

“This is a way to bring them to the table,” he said. “I think what we are trying to do here, is the first step in building a bridge with city hall and the immigrant community.”

Each council member will nominate two members and the mayor will appoint one, Chavez said. All committee members are expected to be in place by the end of March or early April, and the group will start its work soon after that. 

The committee’s meetings will be subject to the Brown Act and will be open to the public, according to the resolution.

Eliseo V. Gamino, chair of the Central Valley Leadership Roundtable, said he hopes the committee will have resources and accountability. 

The committee should be based on assistance and in “helping keep families together” – a need that has recently been illustrated with the case of a Navy veteran who fears could be deported, Gamino said. 

But Gamino said the committee does need adequate resources to be effective. 

“It has to have appropriate resources and accountability goals to help families stay... together and avoid deportation without due process,” he said. 

Chavez said the committee will have city hall resources, as well as access to department heads, the city’s attorney’s office and access to his personal office. 

Issues the advisory committee can help address, Chavez said, range from long wait times for international flights at the Fresno International Airport due to an inadequate number of U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, to offering English as a Second Language (ESL) classes and making citizenship classes more widely available. 

The legal defense fund is an issue the committee could bring back to the table as well, he said. 

Maricela Gutierrez, executive director with Services, Immigrant Rights and Education Services (SIREN), applauded the new committee. 

“I think this is a step in the right direction,” she said. “Our wish and dream is that one day there is actually an office of immigrants and refugee affairs.”

Read more here:

Gutiérrez: Immigrants hold the power with our vote

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SIREN started the 2019 year in the immigrant and refugees rights movement with the federal government in a partial shutdown, where more than 800,000 federal workers were working without pay due to a failure between President Donald Trump and Congress to compromise over a useless and unnecessary border wall.

And on January 25, after 35 days of the longest government shutdown in U.S. history, a budget continuing resolution was passed to open the government for another three weeks — without funding for the border wall.

From the resistance by members of Congress who refused to give in to Trump’s border demands, a major theme rang true — immigrant voters helped put Congress in a position to resist this discriminatory and racist wall.

For the November 2018 midterm elections, we saw record voter turnout among immigrants on the regional, state, and national level. Though SIREN doesn’t engage voters on behalf of candidates, we heard the frustration from voters in those districts where incumbent members of Congress lost.

Our volunteers made more than 80,000 phone calls to Congressional Districts 10 and 21, who were represented by Rep. Jeff Denham and Rep. David Valadao, respectively, this past election. The number one concern voiced by immigrant voters was how Congress wasn’t doing enough for immigrants.

From not protecting immigrant youth by failing to pass a clean DREAM Act to not pushing back against Trump’s draconian immigration executive orders, immigrant voters shared their disapproval for their members of Congress and their empty promises. As a result, the two incumbents lost their congressional seats this past November, along with other incumbents across the state and country.

San Joaquin Valley’s elected officials must stand up for immigrants

San Joaquin Valley’s elected officials must stand up for immigrants


SEPTEMBER 04, 2018 11:47 AM,


Pro-ICE supporter Ben Bergquam, left, and Jaimie Loza, right, who spoke out for immigrant rights, have a heated exchange at the community rally outside the Hall of Records building, Tuesday Aug 8, 2018. The demonstration was held to protest recent arrests by ICE agents at the Fresno County Courthouse.    JOHN WALKER    FRESNO BEE FILE

Pro-ICE supporter Ben Bergquam, left, and Jaimie Loza, right, who spoke out for immigrant rights, have a heated exchange at the community rally outside the Hall of Records building, Tuesday Aug 8, 2018. The demonstration was held to protest recent arrests by ICE agents at the Fresno County Courthouse. JOHN WALKER FRESNO BEE FILE

Since mid-July, Immigration and Custom Enforcement officials have been making arrests at Fresno’s courthouses, violating people’s right to due process and continuing to stoke fear within the immigrant community. It’s no coincidence that Fresno County is home to one of the fiercest in-state critics of California’s sanctuary policies, Sheriff Margaret Mims, who has proudly announced that her deputies and ICE have a strong working relationship. Though she claims that she is complying with state laws, the experience of community members in the Valley proves that there continues to be tight entanglement between her office and ICE. In our daily interactions with the immigrant community, providing legal services and know your rights trainings, we have heard more and more stories about a growing fear of contacting local law enforcement because of legitimate concerns of potential deportation.

The Central Valley is being acutely impacted by Trump’s war on immigrants – so much so that my organization, the Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network is poised to open a new office in Fresno due to increased demand. I have witnessed the plight of immigrants in our community firsthand since I was young. I grew up in the Fresno area as the daughter of immigrant farmworkers, hearing the stories of abusive employers and seeing my family and neighbors racially profiled by police and targeted by ICE. Now, as the executive director of SIREN, an immigrant and refugee rights advocacy organization, I’ve been connecting with many people who have been swept up by ICE in their brutal campaign.

Building the Power of Immigrants and Youth of Color


Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN) - Bay Area has spent the last several years building the political power of immigrant and youth voters with the aim of shifting the political landscape in the region and across the state. In 2018, we doubled down on our commitment to building this political muscle by registering more than fifteen thousand new immigrant and youth voters, contacting a hundred and sixty thousand already-registered voters, and mobilizing more than two hundred volunteers. In the 2018 midterm elections, our efforts helped generate one of the highest turnouts in state history for a midterm and resulted in the passage of critical local and state ballot measures, as well as the defeat of House members opposed to immigrant rights. 

One of SIREN's youth leaders, Miguel, participated in phone banking and door-to-door canvassing of Spanish-speaking voters. Although Miguel and his family cannot vote because of their immigration status, the day after the election he told us: "The community was my voice at the polls yesterday. Immigrants and youth came out and demonstrated our power in Northern California and the Central Valley. Through our voting power, we are passing policies in our state and region that are impacting our families, and we will carry our momentum into 2019 to fight for immigrant rights and protections for immigrant youth."

While SIREN doesn't engage voters on behalf of specific candidates, we heard the mounting frustration from voters over the lack of action on immigrants' rights. Our volunteers made more than eighty thousand phone calls to voters in House Districts 10 and 21, which are represented by Rep. Jeff Denham (R) and Rep. David Valadao (R), and the number-one issue immigrant voters wanted to talk about was the fact that Congress wasn't doing enough for immigrants. From not passing a clean DREAM Act to not pushing back against President Trump's executive orders restricting immigration, immigrant voters shared their disapproval of the empty promises of their congressional representatives. Not surprisingly, Dunham and Valadao both lost.

As we head into 2019, we have our work cut out for us. In 2018, SIREN opened an office in Fresno and established our immigration legal services, community organizing, policy advocacy, and voter engagement with Central Valley immigrant and youth voters. We know we have the political power and leverage to move Congress on issues like a clean DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. And through our base-building work, we've built an infrastructure for and secured the trust of the community to lead outreach efforts focused on the 2020 census. It's critical that we overcome the many challenges and barriers to an accurate count and ensure that immigrant communities receive their fair share of funding. 

Beyond the census, we have momentum and the capacity heading into the 2020 elections to have an even greater impact. When we launched our campaign a few years ago, immigrant community leaders dubbed it "Votar Para Ganar" (Vote to Win), because that is our goal. With  2019 approaching, we are gearing up to win even bigger victories for immigrant and refugee communities in the state and to create a more welcoming California for years to come.

Maricela Gutiérrez is the executive director of Services, Immigrant Rights & Education Network (SIREN), a nonprofit organization serving Northern and Central California that has worked on immigrant and refugee rights issues for more than thirty years. She was born and raised in the Central Valley. 


Spanish translation below/Traducción al español abajo:


Stand with us to oppose the public charge rule, support the Refugee Caravan & denounce the detention of children!

We invite you to join us for an action in front of the Federal Building to demand justice for the immigrant and refugee community TODAY 11/13 in Fresno and TOMORROW 11/14 in San Jose!

Share our FB event & get others to join us!


Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Robert E Coyle Federal Building

2500 Tulare Street, Fresno

4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

 FB event


Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Robert F. Peckham Federal Building

280 S 2nd Street, San Jose

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

FB event

Sign up to submit public comment against the proposed public charge rule by December 10, 2018 here

#ProtectFamilies #ImmigrantsWelcome

For more information, email





¡Únete a nosotros para oponernos a la regla de la carga pública, apoyar a la Caravana de Refugiados & denunciar la detención de niños!

¡Lo invitamos a unirse a nosotros para una acción en frente del edificio federal para exigir justicia para las comunidades de inmigrantes y refugiados HOY 11/13 en Fresno & MAÑANA 11/14 en San Jose!

¡Comparte nuestro evento de FB y consigue que otros se unan a nosotros!


Martes 13 de noviembre de 2018

Robert E Coyle Federal Building

2500 Tulare Street, Fresno

4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

 Evento FB


Miércoles 14 de noviembre de 2018

Robert F. Peckham Federal Building

280 S 2nd Street, San Jose

5:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Evento FB

#Sisepuede #Losderechosinmigrantes

Regístrate para enviar un comentario público en contra de la regla de carga pública antes del 10 de diciembre de 2018aquí

Para más información, mande un email a


Maricela Gutiérrez - Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network

Donate to SIREN and give the gift of opportunity.
The opportunity to LEAD. DREAM. VOTE. 

Los niños inmigrantes y refugiados merecen estar libres de detención // Immigrant and refugee children deserve to be free from jail

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La Administración Trump está tratando de cambiar las reglas que aseguran que los niños inmigrantes y refugiados bajo custodia del gobierno sean tratados humanamente y liberados rápidamente. Seguridad Nacional quiere encarcelar a niños en centros de detención inhumanos hasta que se resuelva su caso de inmigración. Nuestro sistema de inmigración roto sigue devaluando las vidas de los niños inmigrantes y refugiados.

Hoy debemos enfrentarnos al odio y al racismo en la defensa de los derechos de todos los niños inmigrantes y refugiados.

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The Trump Administration is trying to change the rules that ensure immigrant and refugee children in government custody are treated with humanely and released quickly. Homeland Security wants to jail children in inhumane detention centers until their immigration case is resolved. Our broken immigration system continues to devalue the lives of immigrant and refugee children. 

Today, we must stand up against hate and racism in defending the rights of all immigrant and refugee children. 

SIREN Voter Guides November 2018: California Props & Measures

2018 California State Measures

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2018 Central Valley Measures

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2018 Santa Clara Measures

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San Mateo County Measures

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2018 Proposiciones Estatales de California

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2018 Medidas del Valle Central

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2018 Medidas del Condado de Santa Clara

Bầu Cử Tháng 11, 2018 - Lá Phiếu - Tiểu Bang

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Bầu Cử Tháng 11, 2018 -   Miến Trung California

Bầu Cử Tháng 11, 2018 - Lá Phiếu -   Quận Hạt Santa Clara 

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Central Valley Updates

We are excited to share about some of the great work that is taking place in the Central Valley SIREN Office and we’d like to take the time share with you about the events and oppotunities happening out in the Central Valley!


Here is a list of upcoming events: 


Join ICE Out Of Fresno this Saturday for an #AbolishICE march and rally in downtown Fresno beginning at 8:00am. Central Valley Sheriffs have led anti-immigrant efforts that have resulted in the deportation of thousands of individuals and as a result have had a devastating impact on our communities. We will highlight four specific Sheriffs that have chosen to stay on the wrong side of history and have escalated attacks on our community through the entanglement of local law enforcement with ICE.

For more information check out the FB Event Page:



SIREN's monthly asylum clinic is happening this Sunday morning at our Fresno office. If you or anyone you know needs assistance applying for asylum please come to our free asylum clinic between 10-2pm. For additional questions, please email

For more information check out the FB Event Page:



The Truth Act requires a local legislative body to hold a community forum annually if local law enforcement allows ICE access to any individual. Since 2015, Fresno County Sheriff Mims has worked closely with ICE to deport over 500 people. We need community members to attend the forum and ask key questions and demand transparency about the entanglement between ICE and the Fresno County Sheriff's Department. We must hold Sherff Mims accountable and eliminate ICE Out of Fresno! For more information please email:

For more information check out the FB Event Page:




Join us for a Festival in Honor of Immigrants & Refugees and to celebrate SIREN's Fresno Office Open House! All are welcomed to attend! Please RSVP for a booth space HERE. For sponsorship opportunities and more information, email

For more information check out the FB Event Page:





SIREN is seeking a Staff Attorney for our Fresno office.

Training and shadowing opportunities in Removal Defense, humanitarian relief, asylum status, detention work and community lawyering available, along with excellent benefits!

You can find the job posting on our website along with other job opportunities with SIREN:



SIREN offering an Immigrant Rights Organizer Fellowship Program within its Central Valley Community Organizing Program. The Fellowship will provide the Immigrant Rights Organizer Fellow an opportunity to acquire grassroots community organizing and issue organizing skills while directly impacting policies for immigrants and refugees residing in the Central Valley. The Fellow will be equipped with organizing skills they can apply to their future job or bring back to their community for change.


If you have any questions in regards to any of these events please feel free to email



***español a continuación***


Estamos entusiasmados de compartir el gran trabajo que se está llevando a cabo en la Oficina SIREN de Central Valley y nos gustaría compartir con usted acerca de los eventos y las oportunidades que están sucediendo en el Valle Central.


Aquí hay una lista de próximos eventos:


Únase a ICE Out Of Fresno este sábado para una marcha #AbolishICE en el centro de Fresno a partir de las 8:00 a.m este sabado. Los alguaciles del Valle Central han dirigido esfuerzos antiinmigrantes que han resultado en la deportación de miles de personas y como resultado han tenido un impacto devastador en nuestras comunidades. Destacaremos a cuatro sheriffs específicos que han elegido permanecer en el lado equivocado de la historia y han intensificado los ataques a nuestra comunidad a través del enredo de la policía local con la migra.

Para obtener más información, consulte la Página de eventos de FB:




La clínica de asilo mensual de SIREN está sucediendo este domingo por la mañana en nuestra oficina de Fresno. Si usted o alguien que usted conoce necesita ayuda para solicitar asilo, visite nuestra clínica gratuita de asilo entre las 10 y las 2 de la tarde. Para preguntas adicionales, envíe un correo electrónico a

Para obtener más información, consulte la Página de eventos de FB:



Foro Comunitario de Verdad

La Ley de la Verdad requiere que un cuerpo legislativo local realice un foro comunitario anualmente si la policía local permite el acceso de la migra a cualquier individuo. Desde 2015, el Sheriff Mims ha trabajado estrechamente con la migra para deportar a más de 500 personas. Necesitamos miembros de la comunidad para hacer preguntas y exigir transparencia sobre el enredo entre la migra y el Departamento del Sheriff del Condado de Fresno. ¡Debemos responsabilizar a Sherff Mims y eliminar a ICE de Fresno!

Para obtener más información, consulte la Página de eventos de FB:




¡Únase a nosotros asistiendo a nuestro Festival en Honor a los Inmigrantes y Refugiados y celebre nuestra nueva oficina en Fresno!  ¡Todos son bienvenidos a asistir! Reserve su espacio aqui. Para oportunidades de patrocinio y más información, envíe un correo electrónico a

Para obtener más información, consulte la Página de eventos de FB:



SIREN está buscando un abogado del personal para nuestra oficina de Fresno.

Entrenamiento en la Defensa de Deportación, ayuda humanitaria, estado de asilo, trabajo de detención y abogacía comunitaria disponibles, junto con excelentes beneficios!

Puede encontrar la publicación de empleo en nuestro sitio web junto con otras oportunidades de trabajo con SIREN:



SIREN ofrece un Programa de Becas para Organizadores de Derechos de los Inmigrantes dentro de su Programa de Organización Comunitaria del Valle Central. La Comunidad brindará al Compañero Organizador de Derechos de los Inmigrantes la oportunidad de adquirir organizaciones comunitarias de base y emitir habilidades de organización al tiempo que impacta directamente en las políticas para inmigrantes y refugiados que residen en el Valle Central. El Compañero estará equipado con habilidades de organización que pueden aplicar a su futuro trabajo o traer de vuelta a su comunidad para el cambio.

Puede encontrar la publicación de empleo en nuestro sitio web junto con otras oportunidades de trabajo con SIREN:


Si tiene alguna pregunta con respecto a cualquiera de estos eventos, envíe un correo electrónico a para obtener más información.

Donate to SIREN and give the gift of opportunity.
The opportunity to LEAD. DREAM. VOTE. 

Donate here:

Maricela Gutierrez - Executive Director
Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network

Take Action: #Save the Census

On March 26, 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that he had directed the Census Bureau to add a question on citizenship status to the 2020 Census. This alarming decision is bad for the census, bad for our communities, and bad for America. The Census Bureau has invited the public to comment on the 2020 Census, which will be an opportunity to create a strong, clear public record from a range of stakeholders and experts who oppose the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. 

We need the community to stand up and fight back against this untested, unnecessary citizenship question and ensure ALL of our communities are counted. The deadline to submit public comment is August 7.

1. Submit individual comment.  You can submit a unique individual comment HERE

2. Have your organization write and submit a comment. We need to show the breadth of voices in opposition to the citizenship question. To download a public comments template with suggestions about how to personalize your comment, click here

3. Spread the word.  Amplify our message and encourage others to submit comments and share the message on social media.

All public comment and social media resources and more can be found in this 2020 Census Public Comments Toolkit

We have only one chance to get the Census right. Let's continue the fight!

Maricela Gutiérrez - Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network

Donate to SIREN and give the gift of opportunity.
The opportunity to LEAD. DREAM. VOTE. 

Donate here:

Maricela Gutierrez - Executive Director
Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network