NCG Member Lateefah Simon: California’s Dreamers
The following guest post is by NCG member Lateefah Simon, Director of Rosenberg Foundation‘s California’s Future Program. With the Obama Administration’s recent announcement that it would halt deportations of young undocumented immigrants who qualify for the Dream Act, Lateefah provides a roundup of what Rosenberg’s GRANT PARTNERS in immigrant rights are doing to respond and to help implement the new policy.
With few resources, undocumented immigrant students sparked a powerful movement across our state and nation in 2010, galvanizing support for their cause from millions of people. The power of Dreamers recently resulted in President Obama’s historic decision to provide temporary relief to hundreds of thousands of young people, ending deportations for eligible youth and allowing them to work legally.
“We are finally all on the same page,” said Myrna Ortiz, the California Dream Network organizer and coordinator for Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and a student at UCLA. “(The) announcement is a result of all the work we have been doing for so many years, and I hope other measures will follow.”
California has been described as the epicenter for the Dream movement, with a quarter of the nation’s Dreamers and a majority of its leadership living in the state. On the heels of the announcement, our grant partners across California quickly sprang into action to assist in the successful implementation of the new policy.
“We need to make sure this proposal is generous, implemented quickly and fairly, and leaves no one behind,” said Angelica Salas, executive director of CHIRLA, which organized a rally of hundreds of students in downtown Los Angeles after the announcement.
Aiming to ensure that Dreamers are collecting the necessary documentation needed to proceed when the application period opens on August 15, CHIRLA has launched a public education campaign to reach thousands of immigrant youth. It has been helping almost 200 visitors and callers to its Immigrant Access Hotline (888-6-CHIRLA) each day since the news broke, and its youth organizers have provided free conference calls with information and legal advice in English and Spanish to over 350 students and parents. On June 26, CHIRLA will partner with Univision to host a call center marathon, featuring information and assistance to callers during a six-hour period. Its California Dream Network of immigrant student clubs at over 70 colleges and universities statewide will host upcoming educational forums in San Francisco, Los Angeles and more.
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area already had been working closely with community allies to create clinics and self-help packets to assist immigrants in requesting that ICE exercise “prosecutorial discretion” to stop removal proceedings in low priority cases. These clinics now will feature a know-your-rights presentation specifically geared towards the new announcement, educating people on its practical implications on immigrant communities. The Lawyers’ Committee also continues to advocate on a policy level for more permanent relief.
At a press conference organized by the California Immigrant Policy Center (CIPC) to announce a major new report on immigrant contributions to the state, United We Dream board member Sofia Campos described the announcement as a first step toward winning equality and inclusion for all immigrant community members. Campos graduated from UCLA on the day President Obama made the announcement. CIPC, a statewide organization advocating for low-income immigrants, plans on partnering with Dream organizations to pass the California TRUST Act (AB 1081), which would limit unfair, extended detentions for immigration purposes in local jails.
At Rosenberg, we believe that Dream youth are a critical part of the immigrant rights advocacy infrastructure in the state. Within our immigrant rights portfolio, we currently are working to build the capacity of the Dream network to further engage in immigrant related policy issues in California. For example, along with Haas Jr., we are excited to partner with the UCLA Labor Center‘s summer program for California DREAM youth leaders, linking youth to nonprofit organizations, along with mentorship and coaching.
Promoting the full economic, social and civic integration of immigrants long has been a touchstone of our commitment to human rights. In 1986, the Foundation provided grants to community-based organizations to assist undocumented immigrants eligible to achieve legal status under new legislation. In 1999, public interest law organizations and immigrant advocates successfully challenged the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 187, an initiative that prohibited undocumented immigrants and their children from receiving public education and other services.
Tags: Angelica Salas, California Dream Network, California Immigrant Policy Center, Dream Act, Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, immigration, Lateefah Simon, Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area, Myrna Ortiz, Obama Administration, philanthropy, President Obama, Public Policy, Rosenberg Foundation, Sofia Campos, UCLA Labor Center