Sacramento recently came out in huge numbers to celebrate PRIDE in the capital city.
About Ivan Caballero
Posts by Ivan Caballero:
According to Homeland Security, the estimated total of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. is between 8-12 million people. California alone is home to around 2 million; that’s 1 in 5 of all undocumented immigrants living in the Golden State. With that large number of people living in the United States, one might think that our government would want to provide support for our undocumented neighbors.
Many undocumented immigrants, specifically undocumented students, face many challenges as they move through the education system in the U.S. Many undocumented students fear that they could get separated from their families due to deportation when at school.
This issue has caught the eye of some very important people. The Sacramento City Unified School District recently declared their schools as safe havens. That means that students are allowed on campus without fear of federal agencies like ICE from entering school premises in search of undocumented immigrants.
Undocumented students also lack the accessibility to federal financial aid, making college harder to attend. State-level financial aid is available, though many undocumented students find it fearful to share very personal information with the government.
“I was lucky to be able to be born in the U.S. but for friends and family, a lot of them are undocumented,” said Angel Perez, a soon-to-be college student. “I will be going to college in the fall but I know some of my friends aren’t due to a lack of federal help.”
In California, there is a new rising wave of support for undocumented students that continues to grow. Free legal services at most UC campuses are offered through support from the UC Immigrant Legal Services Center, and in-state tuition support at public universities through Assembly Bill 540.
One of the many topics that Californians are pushing for is keeping the public-at-large, specifically undocumented students, aware of the information on how to keep moving forward in the education system as an immigrant. It is also on the forefront of many resident’s minds to help students from the constant pressures that surround them.
Between May 6th and 8th, Sacramento was once again was the host of the #freeourdreams Youth Conference. Formerly known as Sisters and Brothers at the Capitol, the event’s name was changed to Free Our Dreams and has become an annual event which is organized by PolicyLink and Movement Strategy Center. Over 250 youth stormed upon the California State Capitol to hold over 100 legislative visits with lawmakers. Topics of interest for discussion included issues about health, safety, and the future success of young people.
The overall purpose of Free Our Dreams is to make sure that the power of the youth voice is one that is strong and to use that power to help change and advance policies and narratives that affect the neighborhoods of the youth by organizing a statewide effort at the State Capitol.
Youth were transported by bus from cities all over California from places like Bakersfield, San Diego, Stockton, Los Angeles and more. Participants were asked to spread the word and to hashtag #freeourdreams on social media accounts. They went to workshops to learn more about the planned march, social injustices and how they can help to overcome them. They took part in legislative training and preparation for their visits At the end of the first full day of events was a “Block Party” where the participants made their own signs for the march and rally, took advantage of a photo booth and got involved in other art and craft activities.
May 8th was the day that the participants were preparing for. The youth boarded their buses and traveled to the capitol with their signs and banners, displaying #freeourdreams. Participants lined up and began to march around the capitol before heading to the Sacramento California Endowment office where they would finish by hearing speeches from senators and youth participants. From there, the legislative visits began. Youth from Bakersfield-based South Kern Sol spoke on SB 68, a senate bill that extends in-state tuition for undocumented students at CSUs and community colleges. They met Ellen Cesaretti, a representative for Assemblymember Dante Acosta. They also spoke about SB 607 which aims to end suspensions for willful defiance.
“At first I felt really thrilled and then I became nervous,” said Jocelyn Cuevas, a participant with South Kern Sol. “I knew I had to be outside my shell.”
After a long weekend of preparation and work, the legislative visits concluded and the participants returned home in their buses. For many participants, the Free Our Dreams event was a fun and unique experience.
“I was sad when it was done,” said Nichole Castillo, a youth participant with Mid-City CAN. “It was a really great and fun opportunity. I got to meet and bond with other sites. I wasn’t ready to go back home. Not yet.”
Accesslocal.tv sat in on the Sacramento Youth Town Hall on May 13th and was able to get an exclusive interview with Sacramento’s Mayor, Darrel Steinberg.
A job fair aimed at young people aged 16-24 was held last weekend in Downtown Sacramento. The job fair was a place for students and adults to go in and get interviews for internships and jobs or learn about the resources around them.
Many organizations and businesses came to the event to provide young people with the information they needed. Some of the many organizations that came were Wendy’s, Carpenters Training, Laborers Local 185, and the Sacramento Regional Conservation.
“I’m hoping that I can work out something with the many people who came out to offer job opportunities,” said 17-year old job seeker Angel Perez. “I’m actually a little bit nervous.”
The fair wasn’t only for jobs, there were also community service opportunities from colleges such as Sacramento City Community College.
“It’s important for the youth to be out because it shows initiative,” said Raul Rodriguez from the City of Sacramento stand at the job fair. “Were offering different business programs. At Sac City College we have 212 support programs as well as two-year degrees. It doesn’t stop there we also have stuff on financial and transfer information.”
“I met with the construction workers from the union and It may something that I could be interested in actually,” said 18-year-old job hunter Diego Santana. “I applied for Wendy’s right then and here pretty quickly.”
The youth job fair brought a good amount of people most including students who came as field trips from their schools. Many people who came to the event left with backpacks full of papers from the stand at the fair.
According to two new studies, immigrants commit crimes at a much lower rate than U.S. citizens. One study by the Sentencing Project, a criminal justice research group, concluded that residents born outside of the U.S. have a lower crime rate than U.S. born citizens.
The second study, from Cato Institute, compared crime rates by migratory status, ethnicity, and gender. It found evidence to the contrary to the common belief among many people that immigrants are more likely to commit crime than others in the United States.
Politicians such as Donald Trump have stigmatized immigrants as an economic threat and a source of increasing crime, encouraging President Trump to propose a border wall with Mexico at a budget of $3 billion dollars.
“I think the study is giving the proof of something that many of us already knew was true,” said Cleo Ramirez, a student at Sacramento City College. “I think this information could help us finally beat the stereotype of immigrants being criminals.”
The Cato study suggests the between the ages of 18-54, 1.54% of U.S. born citizens are jailed while a lower 0.85% of undocumented immigrants are jailed with an even lower 0.47% of documented immigrants being incarcerated.
“There’s always the horrible, fallacious view that you have to go after immigrants and then you point out a few immigrants that have committed horrible crimes,” said Rep. Juan Vargas (D-Calif.). “You could do the same with mothers. I remember quite well a mother taking her children and driving them into a lake, and they all drowned. You wouldn’t make the argument then that mothers are bad and we have to go after mothers because mothers are criminal.”
“I don’t believe that,” says Richie Nunez, another Sacramento City College student who disagrees with the findings of the two studies. “Like I know it may be reassuring but I just can’t believe that. I’ve known many Hispanics and immigrants and a lot of them are doing bad things. It’s just hard for me to believe the study and I think it should be investigated further.”
While feelings may rule how we react to people living within our country, the data and facts suggest when would give everyone another look.
On March 7th, the Sacramento City Unified School District launched a campaign that defends undocumented students from deportation in the face of ICE agents. This came along soon after the Sacramento City Unified School District Trustees began hearing from teachers, parents, and administrators that children are terrified of being deported or even their family members being deported.
In December, the board of trustees came up with a resolution declaring SCUSD schools “Safe Havens” to any immigration agency and anti-immigration rhetoric.
Board member Jessie Ryan said that the campaign aims to reassure the undocumented students in the district that going to school is completely safe and that the school is there to protect the students if need be. Ryan said that shortly after the presidential election, third graders at one school were too afraid of going outside during recess because they felt that they would be deported.
“The worst case scenario would be children afraid of showing up to school because of fear of deportation,” said Ryan.
It is estimated that in California alone there are around 2,350,000 undocumented immigrants, making up about 6% of the population. Around 1,850,000 of those undocumented immigrants are in the workforce.
This philosophy is gaining traction in other districts all over the state. San Francisco Unified School District says they are “developing a rapid response protocol to support children and families,” if law enforcement is in or around schools. The Los Angeles Unified School District voted in February to make their schools “Safe Havens” and create centers of support for undocumented families threatened by immigration.
“Personally I believe that Safe Haven schools is an amazing thing to any student that wants to extend their education,” says Angel Perez, a student at John F. Kennedy High School in Sacramento.“This gives them the ability to feel more comfortable accomplishing their dreams.”
For some though, the idea of a “Safe haven” school isn’t sitting well. Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones believes legislation like this that would prevent local agencies from entering schools would be invalid because it conflicts with federal law.
“I have a strong belief that it violates federal law,” says Jones. “Every sheriff is going to be in a very difficult position to decide what they personally are going to do should this pass.”
“It’s important for Sacramento City Unified to reiterate that we’re focused on the education of every child who resides in our district, regardless of their immigration status, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and that’s what this resolution does,” said SCUSD Trustee Jay Hansen.
“I was brought in as a child by my parents,” said one undocumented SCUSD, too afraid to give their name due to the fear of deportation. “I was brought here for a better life than the one I possibly would’ve had if left in Mexico. One day my best friend and I were walking to the corner store, my best friend also being undocumented. And he told me he’d wait outside as I entered and got whatever I was going to get. I came back out a few minutes later to the sight of police detaining my best friend.”
“I just remember not being able to do anything,” the undocumented student recalled. “Just slowly walking off because I knew I would be deported as well if I did anything. It was horrible, we made eye contact. I don’t know what he could’ve done while I was in the store but that was the last time I saw my best friend.”
Only time will tell how this new legislation from the Sacramento City Unified School District will turn out.
“Links to Law Enforcement” by La Familia is an event that will go from the 1st of March all the way to April 5th. It will be held at La Familia’s Maple Neighborhood Center which is on 37th Ave in Sacramento.
La Familia is an organization that provides multicultural counseling along with services of support for low-income and at-risk youth and their families in Sacramento. For over 40 years, has provided these services that are all completely free with a totally bilingual staff. Their mission is to improve the quality of youth and their families by providing these services and providing programs that aim to help families to become empowered and succeed.
The Links to Law Enforcement event is a six session event that empowers young people and encourages them to participate in all things law enforcement in Sacramento. This is in effort to have the youth participate to diversify the law enforcement including the California Highway patrol and local sheriff agencies.
This event is likely in response to the police department not being racially diverse as the communities they serve. In Sacramento, the police department is dominantly 72% white while the community is only 36% white. While the rest being 14% black, 25% latino, and 25% other.
“This event has been happening for a long time in Sacramento, and we’re very proud of it,” said Ramon Guitart with La Familia when asked about the event. “These programs, especially from La Familia, help out families and youth and their communities.”
For more information on this upcoming event and what they do please click here.