Tag Archives: immigration

Dare to Dream

As the battle over Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) intensifies in Congress, so does the fear of many LGBTQ immigrants, whose chances of being deported to a country that may not support their lifestyle are increasing.

Experts say that out of the 800,000 dreamers in the United States, around 75,000 identify as LGBTQ. Dreamers are children who were brought to the United States without documentation at a young age. Some 36,000 of those are DACA recipients, many of them living in California.

The White House announced in September that DACA would end for many dreamers on or before March 5, 2018.

“Many people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer, are not only LGBTQ, but also undocumented and people of color, and not just brown, but also black,” said Ronnie Veliz, executive director of Somos Familia Valle. “So, it is very important to us to understand that, within the immigrant population, the LGBTQ population is present, with papers and also without documentation. It affects everyone’s dreams, because it does affect also mixed status families, those who know the United States as their only country from a very early age.”

What happens to the LGBTQ dreamers who come out in the United States, and then are deported to an intolerant nation?

In more than 70 countries, same-sex relations are criminalized, and out those 70, ten have a death penalty for those in the LGBTQ+ community. Many DACA recipients come from countries that can be dangerous for LGBTQ+ people. Countries like Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador are the most common for asylum seekers.

“The risks are not only to be deported to a country that doesn’t even have marriage equality,” Veliz said. “…Keep in mind that marriage equality hasn’t stopped the famous videos of the killing of trans and queer people. It’s not just being deported to a country where you’re going to be killed, and mentally, psychologically, and spiritually abused, but it is also a fact that there are centers and corporations making profits from detaining immigrants.”

Although dreamers face an even greater risk of detention and deportation now, it is important to remember they can still exercise their rights. Practicing those rights before an encounter with an immigration officer, can prepare them.

“Immigrants, whether documented or undocumented, have rights and constitutional rights,” said Julia Vazquez, Southwestern School of Law Professor and the director of CSUN’s Student Legal Clinic. “Everybody should practice his or her rights ahead of time…if you don’t feel comfortable exerting your rights, [remember] the number one right that everyone has is the right to remain silent, and folks should exercise that.”

The DACA program has provided security, opportunity  and hope to recipients. They had the ability to obtain driver’s licenses, enroll in college, and legally secure jobs.

“It’s shameful we are now seeing the cycle of scapegoating, not only [against] immigrants,” Vazquez said. ” Now that we have the language, and more of a platform to really understand, that not every immigrant experience is equal, like people of color, like LGBTQ, and that when you combine those, [these groups] are going to be doubly oppressed by a system of laws that are failing to protect even the most privileged of that group.”

On December 8, in a 5 to 4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled the Trump administration does not have to turn over legal documents connected to its decision to end the program. The Court said it would consider the matter further.

Moderator: Diego Girgado

Producers: Morgan Ball and Minerva Medrano

Anchor: Joselynn Castro

Social Media Editor: Tyler Jones

Reporters: Morgan Ball, Joselynn Castro, Diego Girgado, Tyler Jones and Minerva Medrano


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LA Dreamers

Since the Trump Administration entered the White House, the federal government has promised to deport undocumented immigrants from the U.S., sending them back to their birth country. This situation has left many Dreamers afraid of the very real threat of deportation for themselves or their loved ones, despite the reassurance that a sanctuary city, like Los Angeles, has to offer.

“A Dreamer would be somebody who would be eligible for the DACA program, which is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” said Adan Garcia, a representative from Santa Rosa Immigration Services.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, is essentially an immigration benefit program that provides work permits to qualified immigrants.

“The DACA program gives you a work permit if you meet the requirements for it,” Garcia said, “and the requirements are that you have entered the country before your 15th birthday, [and] that you have also entered the country on or before June 2007….[they also] take criminal record into account.”

The program applies only to young people under these very specific circumstances, and ignores many other undocumented family members who are living and working  and going to school in the U.S.

The Dream Center at CSUN, located inside the University Student Union, is a major resource for undocumented students, including the many people who don’t meet the DACA requirements.

One of the most common issues that the Dream Center deals with are “families that have young kids, especially that are born in the U.S.,” said Jesus, a representative from the CSUN Dream Center, who didn’t want his last name to be used.”The fear of [the parents] being deported, and no one being able to take care of their kids, we’ve had a lot of that.”

Many undocumented immigrants who live in LA, and are not protected by DACA, feel fortunate to live in a sanctuary city. Although there is no legal definition, a sanctuary city is considered “essentially whether a city is willing to cooperate with the federal government when it comes to immigration,” Garcia said. But despite the fact that undocumented immigrants with a clean criminal record are generally protected in sanctuary cities, many of them are still living in fear and paranoia.

“Many people fear their immigration status,” said Lady Pineda, a translator at Hermanda Mexicana Transnacional. “They think that any other day ICE might come to their door, knock, and you know, separate their families.”

“I don’t think anybody should be afraid,” Garcia said, “maybe a little cautious, but it doesn’t seem that the deportation rate has gone up.”

But many Californians say they believe that deportation is something that no active member of a society should have to fear.

“The Dreamers are not criminals,” CSUN student and Dreamer Ivan Salinas said. “We are just trying to fit in. We are trying to be Americans.”

Moderator: Abril Preciado

Producer: Yesenia Burgara

Anchor: Amber Partida

Social Media Editors: Malcolm Finney and Julie Nesbitt

Reporters: Shelby Charlene, Yesenia Burgara, Malcolm Finney, Julie Nesbitt, Amber Partida, Curtis Poindexter and Abril Preciado

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Breaking Barriers: The Undocumented Experience

Undocumented immigrants have long caused controversy in this country, but now not only do they face the struggle to assimilate, they must also face the fear of being deported under the Trump administration. 

“[His policy] is going to affect families in big ways, especially undocumented minors who could potentially have a parent who is deported, or if there are mixed status families, such as the child was born here in the U.S., and the parents were not,” CSUN Chicano/Chicana Studies professor Melissa Galvan said. “This could break up families in very important, intangible ways, and it’s quite sad.” 

The United States-Mexico border remains the most active border checkpoint in the world. According to the Department of Homeland Security, the Obama administration deported 2.5 million people, the most in U.S. history. President Trump has proposed deporting all undocumented immigrants in this country, an estimated 11 million people. There were over 75,000 arrests of family units at the Southwest border last year. Immigrants who have been separated from family members by the border often don’t have much interaction with their loved ones. Friendship Park, on the border between San Diego and Tijuana, allows people to interact, but with limited time and touch. The Tijuana side of the park is open all day, but the San Diego side is open only on Saturday and Sunday from 10 A.M. to 2 P.M.

Among those stopped at the border last year were 60,000 unaccompanied minors. Undocumented unaccompanied minors are children who travel to this country without parents or legal guardians. These minors come not only from Mexico, but also from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. They are fleeing from gang recruitment, violence, poverty and prostitution. If they do make it into the U-S, they face problems of assimilation like any immigrant, and most have language barriers that leave them vulnerable. They are fearful due to their disadvantages and their uncertainty about the future. Their fear can keep them from getting legal help. One resource for them in Los Angeles is Casa Libre.

“We provide any source you can imagine,” Casa Libre director Federico Bustamante said. “Not [always] directly, but we have referral sources and partnerships in place to provide any service that you want. It is residential, mental health, legal services, anything you can possibly imagine, but what we really provide, and what really has the most individual impact on these young men, is a surrogate family. These kids have come from some cases of extreme abandonment, abuse, neglect, no consistency in their lives. The root problem is that lack of consistency and unconditional support. Casa Libre becomes that.  Through everything we do, whether providing legal services or educational services, we are providing a surrogate family.”

Casa Libre provides housing and services for children and families who are homeless. This may include storing belongings until a new home is found. Casa Libre also provides life skills that can be used anywhere.  The children are taught how to cook, do laundry, and prepare for careers.  

“Ultimately [we] really allow these kids to become kids again,” Bustamante said. “They are coming from undeclared war zones, wearing little suits of armor. When they get here and become part of the surrogate family, they are able to enjoy that last part of childhood, and benefit from all of the other services that we have at our disposal.” 

Some undocumented immigrants and unaccompanied minors have been able to get permission to stay in this country to study under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. But its future is also uncertain under the Trump administration.

“One of the biggest things that I have noticed that is a concern, is having to graduate and not have certainty in what the future is going to hold for us, and for myself,” CSUN student Maria Aispuro said. “I am a DACA recipient, and I don’t know if that will be taken away, and I’m not sure if I will have a job, and my family is at risk of deportation.”

Bustamante says, across the country, there isn’t enough support to help all the children who need it.

“I hope there will be more allies of undocumented immigrants in the future,” Public Counsel social worker Jose Ortiz said. “People come here for a reason. They don’t come here because they want to be here. They need something that we have.”

Moderator: Jose Duran

Producer: Luzita Pineda

Anchor: Lexi Wilson

Social Media Editors: Adam Hajost and Arianna Takis

Reporters: Jose Duran, Adam Hajost, Luzita Pineda, Rosa Rodriguez, Arianna Takis and Lexi Wilson

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Homegrown Terrorism: The Truth We Don’t Know

Since September 11, 2001, when many Americans hear the word ‘terrorism’, or when they think of a ‘terrorist attack’, they think of an act perpetrated by a foreign entity. The September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center were perpetrated by 19 foreign-born Arab hijackers recruited by Al-Qaeda, leading some Americans to equate all attacks to Islam, leading to Islamophobia, or a fear of Islam, and a fear of foreigners in general.

“It is important to go back to the definition of terrorism,” said Edina Lekovic, the Director of Policy and Programming at the Muslim Public Affairs Council, “so that Americans know the United States is talking about all forms of politically-motivated violence that take civilian lives, instead of misunderstanding what terrorism is about.”

In fact, every lethal terrorist attack in the United States since 9/11, whether in Fort Hood or Boston or San Bernardino, has been conducted by American citizens or legal permanent residents.

“Terrorism has to have three vital components,” said Erroll Southers, USC’s Director of Homegrown Violent Extremism and Director of International Programs. “It has to have a threat or an act of violence, some legitimizing ideology it’s attached to, and have a civilian, most likely a victim, that’s going to be some political driver to it.”

Media play a huge role in the misconception some Americans have that all terrorism is linked to Muslim perpetrators.

“Today, when there’s an act of violence, if [the media] don’t mention that the person who perpetrated it is Muslim, I know he’s not and that is a code,” Southers said. “It becomes a driver for what the public hears and perceives, and they pick up on that.”

“The media give us ways of thinking about things,” Lekovik said. “When we only get one piece of the overall picture, and that picture is exclusively through the lens of bad news, then we have a fundamental misunderstanding of who a group of people are.”

Last year, 52 people were killed in acts of domestic terrorism, Southers said. An equal number of those 52 were killed by white supremacists as were by Muslims, yet the majority of law enforcement officers’ efforts seem to be against Muslims.

The Department of Homeland Security started the campaign, “See Something, Say Something,” to raise public awareness of the indicators of terrorism and terrorism-related crime, as well as the importance of reporting suspicious activity to state and local law enforcement, but Southers argued the campaign is skewed too strongly against foreign threats.

“The government needs to “see something, say something” on all things,” he said, “and that’s not being done equitably. The best approach to handle this is through real community engagement. Communities have to own, and direct, and drive and sustain efforts, so violence doesn’t happen.”

“It’s powerful to model for the public, a way to engage with Muslims, that says ‘we stand together’ in solidarity,” Lekovic said.

She pointed to Los Angeles’ Mayor Garcetti’s 2016 visit to the Islamic Center of Southern California, where he participated in the weekly prayer, and shared a message of unity and support for Muslim-Americans living in Los Angeles.

“Those messages are very powerful, and need to get out to Angelinos and Americans at times like this, when we feel uncertain,” Lekovic said. “When we feel uncertain, we feel fear. When we feel fear, our brains turn off and our hearts turn on and we don’t always make the best decisions in those circumstances.”

Moderator: Alexi Chidbachian

Anchor: Scott Sanders

Producer: Gabrielle Ortega

Social Media Editor: Danielle Pendleton

Reporters: Sophie Ashley, Alexi Chidbachian, Gabrielle Ortega, Danielle Pendleton, Scott Sanders, Joshua Spidel

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Trumped Dreams

Following one of the most divisive political campaigns in modern American history, President Elect Donald Trump now faces scrutiny and resilience among segments of the population who opposed him from the start. Throughout the campaign, Trump targeted undocumented Latino immigrants, women, Muslims, and people with disabilities, and he now prepares to be president for the various groups of people he attacked.

“A lot of us are very confused and very scared about what’s going on,” said Dreamer and CSUN student Chris Farias.

“Because of Trump’s dangerous rhetoric, people feel they can say things that normally they would have been more in check about,” said CSUN Asian American Studies professor and EOP Faculty Mentor Coordinator Glenn Omatsu.

“Before I didn’t know about DACA [when I was growing up], I didn’t think I was going to go to school,” Farias said. “In the community that I’m from, you’re kind of taught you’re not going to make it… [DACA]… was my way out. I didn’t want to be different I wanted to be included.”

President Obama’s administration established the American immigration policy known as Deferred  Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, in 2012. It gives certain undocumented immigrants eligibility for a work permit and a renewal for a two-year period of deferred action from deportation.

The DREAM Act is a legislative proposal giving undocumented immigrants the opportunity to achieve legal status in the United States through academics or the military. Both of these programs have been fundamental in establishing the rights of thousands of undocumented immigrants.

“What we have to do is use inspiration from students themselves who are fighting,” Omatsu said. “In 1942, [when] Ralph Lazo was a high school student at Belmont high school, his Japanese-American friends were sent to concentration camps. He, as a Mexican American, felt it was wrong, but as … a high school student, he didn’t have enough power [to change policy], but what he did was on his own: he registered himself to be of Japanese ancestry, so he could go to the camps with his friends, because he felt it was an injustice. I think actions like that need to be encouraged in our society.”

California politicians are already laying the groundwork for combatting policies against immigration reform, environment protection, and workers’ rights being floated about Trump and his administration. California is home to a lot of undocumented immigrants, and many young immigrants are now worried about their status as students in the United States. Students who are protected by DACA and the DREAM Act have raised concerns about what could happen to their student status because of Trump’s proposal to combat all forms of immigration. On top of that, some students who may be protected by DACA and the DREAM Act are fearing the ramifications of Trump’s proposals on family members and friends, who aren’t protected by any of these legislations.

“This is our time to show the media and Trump that we are together, and we’ll fight for what we deserve,” Farias said. “It’s a bummer to be seen as a criminal, who doesn’t want to go to school, who isn’t intelligent, but we are and we really need to stick together.”

With pending questions and concerns surrounding president-elect Trump and his immigration policies and their effect on DACA, the DREAM Act, and non-protected immigrants alike, students are looking for ways they can defend these policies that have protected them from being deported.

Anchor: Alicia Dieguez

Moderator: Nick Torres

Producer: Susana Guzman

Social Media Editor: Jaclyn Wawee

Reporters:  Alicia Dieguez, Thomas Gallegos, Ebony Hardiman, Ke-Alani Sarmiento, Jaclyn Wawee

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Immigration: The Not-So-Clear Path to the American Dream

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