SIREN in the News: April 2019

SIREN’s Executive Director, Maricela Gutiérrez, Selected as a César Chávez Community Hero of 2019 by the Marguerite Casey Foundation; March 28, 2019.

“Maricela is a phenomenal movement and spiritual leader in the immigrant and refugee rights movement. She is an impacted community member. She has a beautiful and bold vision of what is possible for communities. She is committed to centering wisdoms and leadership of those most impacted by racism/patriarchy/capitalism/intersectional oppression. She’s a driver. She’s a very successful fundraiser. She cares deeply about people, and she has the utmost integrity. She understands the difference between building for a moment as opposed to building for a movement.”

San Jose Police Chief Wants to Reconsider Sanctuary City Policy in Light of Undocumented Murder Suspect. KNTV-TV Online; March 15, 2019.

Sanctuary Cities Policy Change? Telemundo 48; March 13, 2019.

Health4All Day of Action in Sacramento

On March 20, SIREN grassroots leaders and staff joined hundreds of immigrant community members from across to state to advocate for Health4All. Building on the success of Health4AllKids, this legislation would allow immigrants, regardless of age or immigration status, to be eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal. Currently, low-income undocumented adults do not qualify for this state program which would provide them with health coverage so they can see a doctor and get comprehensive health care.

Community members powerfully shared with legislators why Health4All is vital for the health and well-being of immigrants and why this policy is needed to save lives. SIREN leaders had the opportunity to meet with the offices of Senator Melissa Hurtado, Senator Marielena Durazo and Assemblymember Marc Berman so they could hear straight from their constituents. The day ended with a powerful hearing before the Senate Health Committee where the bill passed its first hurdle on its way to becoming a law. With this first victory, the fight for Health4All continues and SIREN leaders will continue to urge our state legislators and the Governor to make sure it becomes a reality!

A Meeting of the Hearts and Minds

On Friday, March 1 and Saturday, March 2 SIREN brought together its base of intergenerational and multiracial grassroots leaders, staff and board from Northern California and Central Valley for a Strategic Planning Retreat. During these two days we discussed current political affairs, immigrant and refugee struggles and opportunities, strategic visioning for the organization and everyone had an opportunity to discuss their own personal stories of the impacts of immigration.

Day one kicked off with a discussion the 32 year history of SIREN and an overview of our 10 Year Strategic Framework first developed at the end of 2016. The familiarity and tenure with SIREN’s work varied among folks, from 20 years to two months, so this was a great place to start. After celebrating the wide range of wins, small groups discussed how the strategic framework might be changed within the new context of today and what work SIREN should prioritize in the next three years.

Day two began with reflection and strategic thinking. After a small group discussion on what it means to be a SIRENISTA, a wonderful array of art was created. There was a poem, a song, and drawings all reflecting the power that SIRENISTAS possess and exert. This creative exercise led to deep discussions on bold goals, key strategies, and helpful outcomes for the next three years on each arm of the strategic framework.

The two days of deep thinking and heartfelt sharing concluded with a dinner of home cooked tamales and posole and a vibrant Afro-Latino drum circle. It was a very special time. We greatly appreciate and our deeply honored by the time and sincerity each grassroots leader, board member, and staff gave during this two day retreat. We look forward to sharing more details about the plans and products that came out of this convening. Stay tuned for more.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla Visits SIREN

On March 6, 2019, it was our pleasure to welcome California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to our San Jose office where we talked about the Voter’s Choice Act implementation, voter rights issues, and the 2020 Census.

California's 2016 Voter's Choice Act ensures that voters in five counties - Sacramento, Nevada, Napa, Madera, and San Mateo - receive mail-in ballots 28 days prior to elections. SIREN leaders were able to share their feedback on the Voter’s Choice Act, as well as highlight their successes of the past election cycle, having added over 15,000 new voters, knocked on over 10,000 doors, and contacted over 160,000 voters throughout Northern California and the Central Valley.

SIREN is preparing to launch our 2020 Census Campaign and there is much work ahead in preparation for this momentous event to ensure that every person is counted. Join us in our campaign to register individuals in Northern California and Central Valley and volunteer and support our civic engagement efforts today.

Central Valley Legal Team is Saving Lives

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SIREN launched the first Free Weekly Removal Defense Clinic in the Central Valley to support individuals in removal proceedings or who are at risk of deportation by offering free legal consultations to Central Valley residents. About half of the people we help live in Fresno and the other half come from rural towns located throughout the Central Valley. Some people have driven from as far as Stockton and Bakersfield to attend our Tuesday clinics. The clinics are immensely helpful because we inform Central Valley residents about their legal options, their rights and analyze their cases and advise them on next steps. From those consultations, we are now representing several individuals with their cases. Individuals like one of our clients Susana:

Susana lives in Fresno and is the mother of five children; two below the age of 10. She made the decision to leave Mexico after her ex-partner tried to kill her - leaving her with a cracked skull and several busted teeth. Had it not been for the women who came to her aid, Sofia may not be here today.

SIREN is helping Susana, so she can live without fear of abuse from her ex-partner. If she wins asylum, she and her two kids will be able to live in the United States and eventually can become legal permanent residents.

SIREN Member Spotlight: April 2019


Grégoire grew up in France, and earned a master’s degree in Engineering which led him to move to Mexico to start a career in the automotive industry. After learning about people’s stories of migration, he was motivated to start a new career with nonprofits in France and Ecuador. He led projects that led to access to education, paralegal counseling and cultural activities. After many years of working with undocumented immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees in France, he focused on projects that brought people toward autonomy and emancipation. One of the strongest lessons Grégoire learned was that volunteering can create long-lasting and meaningful relationships, but also can empower both immigrants and local citizens.

Grégoire and his wife came to the Bay Area in 2016, where he discovered SIREN. Necessity and curiosity led him to SIREN when he was seeking immigration legal advice. He immediately felt that refreshing and joyful energy, where every visitor is treated as an equal and potential valuable addition to the organization. “I felt the warm invitation to participate in trainings and rallies. I also volunteered for SIREN’s 30th anniversary gala.” After a few months, Grégoire signed up to become a SIREN member in order to formally support the organization and its campaigns as a way to stay connected.

“I am very thankful to be a member of SIREN. I feel connected to the struggles and exciting empowering dynamics within the immigrant community in the South Bay. I have become part of a bigger fight, a necessary fight all over the country. This fight is for justice and the recognition of the immense value of a society that is diverse and needs to continue to be diverse.”

Please join Grégoire and become a SIREN Member today! You can help sustain our movement and help lead advocacy efforts for immigrant and refugee rights. Renew your membership, or become a member today!

Message from the ED: April 2019

Dear Friends,

As you know, SIREN’s mission is to empower low-income immigrants and refugees through community organizing, leadership development, policy advocacy, civic engagement and legal services.  We believe that all people regardless of legal status or nationality are entitled to essential services, human dignity, basic rights and protections, and access to full participation in society.

In this context of our important and vast mission, we would like to take a moment to address the tragic case of Bambi Larson. We join the community in mourning the loss of this innocent life. There are simply no words to console all those who have been impacted by this senseless loss.

Sadly, this tragic situation has also become a rally cry for some who wish to criminalize all immigrants in our community. As our community grapples with this tragedy, we implore that our values of basic rights and protections be upheld. SIREN believes in the need for every member of our community to feel safe and protected by our local law enforcement agencies without the interference of ICE. Please find our full statement by the FIRE Coalition here. This is why we invite our supporters to call the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors urging them not to change our local policy that ensures our County does not collaborate with ICE and to join us to speak at upcoming Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors meetings on April 4 at 2 pm and April 9.

Let us continue to work together in the spirit of our great democracy. Thank you for believing in the overwhelmingly positive contributions of immigrants and refugees to this country. It is a strong legacy that has fueled the success of this country for generations. Join us today in making your voice heard through a donation to SIREN.

With love and justice,


Health4All Dia de Accion en Sacramento

El 20 de marzo, los líderes y el personal de SIREN se unieron a cientos de miembros de la comunidad inmigrante de todo el estado para abogar por Health4All. Sobre el éxito de Health4AllKids, esta legislación permitiría a los inmigrantes, sin importar su edad o estatus migratorio, ser elegibles para Medi-Cal de alcance completo. Actualmente, los adultos indocumentados de bajos ingresos no califican para este programa estatal que les brindaría cobertura de salud para que puedan ver a un médico y obtener atención médica integral.

Los miembros de la comunidad compartieron poderosamente con los legisladores por qué Health4All es vital para la salud y el bienestar de los inmigrantes y por qué esta política es necesaria para salvar vidas. Los líderes de SIREN tuvieron la oportunidad de reunirse con las oficinas de la senadora Melissa Hurtado, la senadora Marielena Durazo y la asambleísta Marc Berman para que pudieran escuchar directamente a sus electores. El día terminó con una poderosa audiencia ante el Comité de Salud del Senado, donde el proyecto de ley superó su primer obstáculo para convertirse en ley. Con esta primera victoria, la lucha por Health4All continúa y los líderes de SIREN continuarán instando a nuestros legisladores estatales y al Gobernador a asegurarse de que se convierta en una realidad.

Una Reunion de los Corazones y las Mentes

El viernes, 1 de marzo y el sábado 2 de marzo, SIREN reunió a su base de líderes  intergeneracionales y multirraciales del Norte de California y el Valle Central, su personal y mesa directiva para un Retiro de Planificación Estratégica. Durante estos dos días, discutimos asuntos políticos actuales, luchas y oportunidades de inmigrantes y refugiados, una visión estratégica de la organización y todos tuvieron la oportunidad de discutir sus propias historias personales sobre los impactos de la inmigración.

El primer día comenzó con una discusión sobre los 32 años de historia de SIREN y una visión general de nuestro Marco Estratégico de 10 Años que se desarrolló por primera vez a fines de 2016. La familiaridad y la permanencia en SIREN variaron entre las personas, de 20 años a dos meses. Fue un gran lugar para comenzar. Después de celebrar nuestras victorias, en grupos pequeños discutimos cómo se podría cambiar el marco estratégico dentro del nuevo contexto de hoy y qué trabajo debería priorizar SIREN en los próximos tres años.

El segundo día comenzó con una reflexión y pensamientos estratégicos. Después de una pequeña discusión sobre lo que significa ser un SIRENISTA, se creó una maravillosa variedad de arte. Hubo un poema, una canción y dibujos que reflejaban el poder que SIRENISTAS poseen y ejercen. Este ejercicio creativo llevó a discusiones profundas sobre objetivos audaces, estrategias claves y resultados útiles para los próximos tres años en cada brazo del marco estratégico.

Los dos días de profunda reflexión y sincero intercambio concluyeron con una cena de tamales y posoles caseros y un vibrante círculo de tambores afro-latino. Fue un momento muy especial. Apreciamos enormemente y nos sentimos profundamente honrados por el tiempo y la sinceridad que cada líder, miembro de la junta directiva y personal brindaron durante este retiro de dos días. Esperamos poder compartir más detalles sobre los planes y productos que surgieron de esta convocatoria. Mantente sintonizado para más.

El Secretario del Estado Alex Padilla Visita a SIREN

El 6 de marzo de 2019, tuvimos el placer de darle la bienvenida al Secretario de Estado de California, Alex Padilla, a nuestra oficina de San José, donde hablamos sobre la implementación de la Ley de Elección de los Votantes, los derechos de los votantes y el Censo del 2020.

La Ley de Elección de Votantes 2016 de California garantiza que los votantes de los cinco condados (Sacramento, Nevada, Napa, Madera y San Mateo) reciban boletas por correo 28 días antes de las elecciones. Los líderes de SIREN pudieron compartir sus comentarios sobre la Ley de Elección de los Votantes, así como resaltar sus éxitos del ciclo electoral anterior, habiendo agregado más de 15,000 votantes nuevos, tocando más de 10,000 puertas y contactando a más de 160,000 votantes en todo el Norte de California y el Central Valle.

SIREN se está preparando para lanzar nuestra Campaña del Censo de 2020 y hay mucho trabajo por delante en la preparación de este evento trascendental para garantizar que cada persona sea contada. Únase a nosotros en nuestra campaña para registrar a las personas en el norte de California y el Valle Central y sea voluntario y respalde nuestros esfuerzos de compromiso cívico hoy.

El Equipo Legal del Valle Central Salvando Vidas

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SIREN lanzó la primera Clínica de Defensa de Eliminación Semanal Gratuita en Fresno para apoyar a las personas en los procedimientos de Remoción o que están en riesgo de deportación con consultas legales gratuitas. Alrededor de la mitad de las personas que ayudamos viven en Fresno y la otra mitad provienen de todo el Valle Central. Algunas personas han viajado desde Stockton y Bakersfield para asistir a nuestras clínicas los martes. Las clínicas son de gran ayuda porque informamos a los residentes del Valle Central sobre sus opciones legales, sus derechos, analizamos sus casos y les aconsejamos sobre los próximos pasos. Desde esas consultas, ahora estamos representando a varias personas con sus casos. Susana, es una de nuestras clientes:

Susana vive en Fresno y es madre de cinco hijos; dos menores de 10 años. Tomó la decisión de irse de México después de que su ex pareja intentó matarla, dejándola con el cráneo quebrado y varios dientes rotos. Si no hubiera sido por las mujeres que intervinieron para ayudarla, tal vez Susana no esté aquí hoy.

SIREN está ayudando a Susana, para que pueda vivir sin temor a abusos de parte de su ex pareja. Si gana asilo, ella y sus dos hijos podrán vivir en los Estados Unidos y eventualmente podrán convertirse en residentes permanentes legales.