Welcome to the Team, Ambar Gonzalez!


Ambar Gonzalez was born and raised in Santa Clara County. Growing up she discovered a passion for politics, and found herself interested in finding an opportunity related to political activism.  She attended Fisk University in Tennessee where she received a degree in psychology and political science.

After graduating, Ambar moved back to San José and volunteered with many organizations, but it wasn’t until she attended a protest in San Diego to defend children held in detention camps that she found her calling. The protest helped her realize her interest was to champion immigrant rights, and fight to abolish ICE.

Shortly after, Ambar began attending SIREN’s Youth Leadership Program meetings. Her passion and love for our beliefs was what sparked an interest to apply. “ I am ecstatic to be working with SIREN and want to help others be involved and informed, not only about immigration but about their civil rights as well,” she said.

SIREN Empowers New Voters

Edwin and Lezba are long time legal permanent residents who came to SIREN's free, monthly Citizenship Legal Clinic for naturalization services. They had put off applying for naturalization because they were nervous about the administration and possible consequences of failing the examination. After coming to SIREN’s Legal Clinic, they spoke with one of SIREN's Attorneys who eased their fears about applying and helped them to fill out the applications.

In April of this year, Edwin and Lezba returned to SIREN with their naturalization certificates in hand. Edwin, especially proud, indicated that he had answered all of the questions on his citizenship exam correctly. They both plan on voting in the upcoming elections and are very happy to be newly minted US citizens.

We are so proud of Edwin and Lezba for overcoming their fears and becoming empowered US citizens! For more information about our citizenship programs and services, visit us here.

Fighting for a Representative Census

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On April 24, 2019, the Supreme Court of the United States heard oral arguments in cases challenging Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' decision to add a citizenship question to the 2020 U.S. Census. Last year, the Trump administration gave a green light to adding an untested, and dangerous citizenship question to the 2020 Census-- a move that could lead to severe undercounts of communities of colors and immigrants. We don’t expect to hear a ruling until June.

The U.S. census takes place every 10 years and the data collected impacts the future of our communities. The data helps determine how more than $800 billion in federal resources will be distributed, including where schools, roads and hospitals are built, as well as providing the basis for funding for other essential programs and services. The census is also used to decide congressional representation.

We are looking for volunteers who can help with community outreach to work with our immigrant and refugee communities about the importance of the Census, and how to fill out the form. If you are interested in joining our Census Street Team, please email action@siren-bayarea.org. Together we can make a difference!

SIREN in the News April 2019

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San Jose Council Member Maya Esparza honors SIREN’s voter empowerment work through a commendation on April 9, 2019.

Labor leaders condemn Sam Liccardo over stance on immigration. San Jose Spotlight. April 12, 2019.

Sanctuary policy and board of supervisors meeting. KCBS-AM; April 10, 2019 03:24 AM PDT.  

Sanctuary policy could be undone in Santa Clara County. KCBS Radio Blogs; April 10, 2019.

Board of Supervisors Meeting and Sanctuary Policy. Noticiero Telemundo 48; April 9, 2019 11:03 PM PDT.  

Public spars over Santa Clara County sanctuary policy at supervisors' meeting. East Bay Times Online; April 9, 2019

Public spars over Santa Clara County sanctuary policy at supervisors' meeting. The Mercury News Online; April 9, 2019.

Hundreds pack hearing on Santa Clara County’s sanctuary policy. SFGate, April 9, 2019.

Santa Clara County supervisors vote to explore changes to sanctuary policy. The Mercury News; April 8, 2019.

Santa Clara County supervisors vote to explore changes to sanctuary policy. East Bay Times; April 8, 2019.  

Update on Santa Clara County Civil Detainer Policy

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On April 9, after over four hours of public testimony, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to direct county staff to explore changes to the notification and transfer process of our county’s sanctuary policy. The policy is currently in place, and no changes have been made. The Santa Clara County Executive’s Office, along with County Counsel have sent out an organizational feedback form for organizations within the county to give feedback on what changes, if any, should be made to the current sanctuary policy. The deadline to submit feedback was April 26.

We would like to thank all of the SIREN community leaders who came out to make their voices heard. By coming forward to share our concerns, we are making sure that our public officials know how they can protect immigrants and refugees in our community. It is through this type of activism that we will continue to keep families together!

SIREN in the News: March 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: March 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!