Sacramento recently came out in huge numbers to celebrate PRIDE in the capital city.
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.
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.
Sac City Council Hold Sacramento Teens Speak Up At Council Meeting For Youth Programs Meeting On Investment For Youth
“My name is Arabella Smith and I was saved by 916 Ink,” said a Sacramento teen named Arabella during a City Council meeting regarding the investment of youth programs.
Sacramento’s City Council, led by its Mayor, Darrell Steinberg, held a meeting to discuss the investment in youth and youth programs. In Sacramento, many organizations such as 916 Ink, Sol Collective, The California Endowment, the Boy & Girls Club and much more are working to make an impact on Sacramento’s youth.
The issue of this meeting was to push the city council to consider more investment into the many youth programs as mentioned above. It is believed by the issue’s supporters that a higher investment in youth programs can lead area children to a healthy, active, engaged, and ready-to-learn lifestyle.
The majority of city youth services are run through the City Department of Parks and Recreation, Also known as DPR. It runs around 26 different major youth services.
The policy considerations included increasing investment for the DPR’s youth-serving programs and working in collaboration with Sacramento’s school districts to create school-based beacon centers.
There are a good amount of studies that indicate that a stable and healthy early childhood learning environment improves student achievement. Governments can save more than $7 for every $1 spent on early learning instead of spending on student suspensions, being held back, or later getting involved in crime and going to prison.
Many youth and adults came to this meeting in hopes of getting more investment towards these programs and to supporting creating more youth programs to help youth development, mental health, and physical health
“A lot of kids who grow up in a poverty area don’t want to do bad things, it is caused by the help they get around them- which is basically nothing,” said a young teen, Tommy Lee, when speaking to Darrell Steinberg about his experiences while living in Oak park, one of many struggling communities in Sacramento.
Tommy was one of the many youth who attended this city council meeting. He spoke about the horrifying experiences of the sounds of police sirens in his neighborhoods and even not being able to go outside as a young child in caution of the problems facing the neighborhood.
“We must help our kids believe that they can do anything in life,” said another youth speaker named Noelle Alvarez. “Education means everything and not everyone can do it alone.”
Many speakers, including several teens, spoke about their experiences in low-income neighborhoods or living in a struggling situation. Many of them have had help from many youth development programs that they often say have helped them recover and move on from an unhealthy life.
“I know what it’s like to go down the wrong path and I don’t want the next generation to make the same mistakes I did,” said Alvarez as he ended his comments.
Sacramento alone has many areas with food deserts. Food deserts are places that don’t have affordable grocery stores within a one-mile radius. We discuss this on-going issue in this video.
My name is Ivan Caballero. This is my fourth time with Accesslocal.tv which equates to about a year and half of time with the program. It’s been a pretty long time since I’ve first started writing articles and making videos for this website. It’s something I love to do and I appreciate incredibly the opportunity that this job provides me. I consider Sacramento, the city where I was raised, to be my community.
I’m a 17 year old student with a passion for photography, cinematography, journalism, and comic books- . Photography and cinematography being at my core. In my free time, or at work, I like to take pictures and sometimes post them on my Instagram photography profile.
I often take pictures of the areas around where I live. I like to show the inequality issues in my area and even the good things that people enjoy. I grew up here; I want the world to see what I grew up seeing. I go to Old Sacramento Sac and take pictures of just about everything. I travel around go to Meadowview, my neighborhood, and take pictures of the broken streets and parks. I want the Internet to see what I grew up looking at.
Growing up here, I have noticed the issues that Sacramento faces and now that I work with Accesslocal.tv, I am able to have the ability to write about these problems. It’s one of the many things I love about journalism. I don’t just get to go out and explore and meet new people; I get to inform the local public about the issues that matter and people who are making a difference.
Because of Accesslocal.tv, I’ve actually been able to leave Sacramento and travel to Los Angeles twice and even go to UC Davis to participate in a state-wide youth empowerment event and go to a #SchoolNotPrisions concert. My point is that I’ve been able to do so much more than I would have without this amazing job.
I’ve said this many times before but when I first started with Accesslocal.tv I knew very little of journalism, but now everything is changed. I’m still not as good as I can be but I have improved so much since my first article and video. I have improved massively thanks to this job at Accesslocal.tv because it is something I love to do.
I have had tremendous pressure from my family put on me. This job has given me the courage to show to everyone who doubted me that maybe I can pull off my dreams. It’s a great feeling to be able to do better than what many people expected of me.
I am hoping that I will have another amazing four months working here at Accesslocal.Tv and I hope I find a job similar to this one in the near future. I’m excited to see where this term takes me.