San Diego - With the future of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) in jeopardy, Alliance San Diego is launching a new campaign to help protect DACA and provide FREE legal screenings to all members of the undocumented community.
More than half a dozen DACA recipients and their supporters will be on hand to tout the benefits of the program and invite all members of the undocumented community to get legally screened right away. About 20 percent of undocumented immigrants qualify for some type of immigration relief program --but they don’t realize it.
With the 7th largest population of undocumented immigrants in the country, San Diego County has around 40,000 residents who are eligible for DACA.
Who: Alliance San Diego and partners
What: Press Conference to Defend DACA and Launch Legal Screening Campaign
When: July 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am
Where: San Diego Unified School District Office
DACA recipients will write on a colorful chalkboard how DACA has changed their lives
Lineup of speakers include DACA recipients, activists, faith leaders and the family of a father who was recently detained by Border Patrol and is facing removal from the country
Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego
Itzel Guillen, DACA recipient and Immigrant Integration Manager at Alliance San Diego
Hugo Ramos, DACA recipient
Leah Chavarria and Celeste Figueroa, Attorney and affected community member
Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School District Board President
Stanley Anjan, San Diego Unified School District
Rev. Lee Hill, Interfaith Justice Coalition
Christian Ramirez, Human Rights Director at Alliance San Diego, said the following:
“DACA is a critical juncture, and we must do everything we can to protect it so that young immigrants can continue to contribute to society. It is especially critical for border towns like San Diego where there are higher concentrations of DACA recipients who are particularly vulnerable to the excesses of Washington’s continued militarization of our communities. Without this protection, we risk going back to the times when kids were being picked up while taking the bus or trolley on their way to school and deported. We have come too far to reverse policy that has been both morally sound and beneficial for the U.S. economy. This country must continue to move forward with effective immigration policies that allow young people to flourish. Moreover, I can’t stress enough to young immigrants the value in getting legal screenings to identify available programs they may be eligible for. Alliance San Diego is a trusted community resource and our doors are always open to help.”
Itzel Guillen, DACA recipient and Immigrant Integration Manager at Alliance San Diego, said the following:
"DACA is essential in protecting so many young people from deportation, including tens of thousands of San Diegans. It has allowed me to work, go to college and contribute to society. Without DACA I would be at risk of being picked up at any time by federal agents, especially in a border city like San Diego where Trump’s deportation force is at full strength. The best thing people can do is get legally screened to see if they qualify for an immigration program that can shield them from deportation. We invite everyone to visit ReadyNowSanDiego.org for a list of events happening in the community including free legal screenings and naturalization assistance.”
Hugo Ramos, a DACA recipient who was brought to the United States when he was three years old, stated the following:
“My family and me depend 100 percent on DACA. Thanks to the program I have been able to work as a truck driver and provide for my four US-born children and my wife, who is unable to work because of a medical condition. This program works, plain and simple, and we must fight to preserve it. I plan on renewing DACA for a third time, and I encourage others who have DACA to renew as soon as they can. For those who don’t have DACA, I strongly encourage them to attend one of the free legal screenings and find out if there’s a program that can help them and their families.”
Leah Chavarria, an attorney who represents the Figueroa family, stated the following:
“My client Mario Figueroa is a 22-year-old Guatemalan citizen who was brought to the United States by his parents when he was just 4 years old. During high school, he attempted to apply for DACA, but the person he hired took his money and paperwork and never filed. Most recently, in the middle of preparing his application for DACA, he was arrested by Border Patrol in Temecula, on July 11, 2017. Now he could be on his way to a country he doesn’t even know, forced to abandon his US citizen wife and 10-month-old daughter. His case exemplifies why it’s important for anyone in these types of situations to figure out what their immigration options are, and one way to do that is to get a free legal screening and talk to an attorney referred by a trusted community organization like Alliance San Diego.”
Richard Barrera, San Diego Unified School District Board President, said the following:
“The San Diego Unified School District supports efforts to protect this program. We have an office dedicated to help students better integrate into society, and we encourage those who have DACA to renew as soon as possible. Kids should be focused on their education, not on whether they are going to be separated from their families and deported to places they barely know. We encourage our elected officials to stand up for these young immigrants so they can continue to better themselves and contribute to society."
Rev. Lee Hill, from the Interfaith Justice Coalition, stated the following:
“As a man of faith, I feel that we are morally obligated to take in those who are in need of our assistance. For the past five years we have provided these young people with the resources to help them better their lives and give them hope. To suddenly snatch away the DACA program is not only cruel but it goes against one of the founding principles of this country, which states we are all created equal and endowed by our Creator. So, to this Administration I say: history will never forget how you attempted to turn your back on the thousands of people who needed help from this nation. During this battle, I will continue to stand hand-in-hand with my immigrant brothers and sisters and encourage them to seek legal assistance so that they can continue to dream, live and support their families.”
DACA is currently in jeopardy. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has threatened the Trump Administration: if DACA isn’t ended by September 5th, he will sue to block it before a federal judge named Andrew Hanen, the notoriously anti-immigrant judge who blocked DAPA. Paxton seems to have a willing ally Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has long opposed DACA. The scheme clearly puts Sessions in a position to go to President Trump and say, ‘we’re going to lose in the courts so let’s end it ourselves.’ Meanwhile, McClatchy reports that a bipartisan DREAM Act is likely to be introduced in the coming days. Ending DACA is especially perilous for people who live in the border region given the extraordinary powers that border agents assert to racially profile residents and stop, interrogate and detain them without probable cause.
About Alliance San Diego
Alliance San Diego is a non-profit, non-partisan 501(c)(3) community empowerment organization working to ensure that all people can achieve their full potential in an environment of harmony, safety, equality, and justice. Our mission is to to provide a means for diverse individuals and organizations to share information, collaborate on issues and mobilize for change in the pursuit of social justice, especially in low-income communities and communities of color. We pursue this mission through targeted civic engagement programs and strategic coalitions that focus on specific issues and policy reforms.