Latinx advocates urge incoming administration for immigration reform

Bay Area

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In East San Jose, Latinx community leaders came together Friday to hold a joint press conference calling for immigration reform from the newly elected presidential leadership. 

Nearly a week after Joe Biden was announced as the President-elect, executive directors of the Si Se Puede Collective, Amigos de Guadalupe Center for Justice and Empowerment, Grail Family Services, Somos Mayfair, School of Arts & Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza (MHP) and Veggielution are demanding the new administration make significant changes to current immigration legislation. 

“Our Latino community has been impacted by this current administration and now with change, we are hoping that our new elected officials will do right by our community,” said Jessica Paz-Cedillos, executive director of the School of Arts and Culture at the Mexican Heritage Plaza. 

“Historically Latinos and immigrants have been scapegoats in America, we are asking that this administration honor the fact that our immigrant community is the backbone of America,” Paz-Cedillos added. 

“And if that’s the case we want to ensure that our most vulnerable community members who lack rights right now have a pathway to citizenship and have protection.”

Held at the MHP in East San Jose’s Mayfair community — nearly 50 community members and leaders gathered as Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren also joined the event through video call. 

Lofgren represents the 19th District of California covering San Jose and the Santa Clara Valley where a significant population of undocumented residents reside. 

“It’s one of my major political goals in life is to completely reform a very dysfunctional immigration system but for now we can take some satisfaction in the fact that the executive branch is going to be in a completely different mode,”

“Understanding that immigrants built this country and if we want a strong country in the future, we need to look to our past and see that cutting off the energy and the vitality of immigrants coming to become Americans with us is not the way to go.”

The Si Se Puede Collective, faith leaders, and allies drafting up six demands for the new administration: 

  1. Immediate end to separation of children from families; 
  2. Immediate deployment of resources to identify and locate parents or families of the 666 children still in cages and reunification of the children with their families; 
  3. Implement Immigration Reform for 11 million people, including a pathway to citizenship; 
  4. Develop a pathway to citizenships for all DACA recipients; 
  5. Stop I.C.E. raids immediately; 
  6. Immediate passage of COVID-19 Relief and Recovery legislation to continue to fight the disease, to provide a necessary income bridge for individuals whose jobs have been affected, to provide small business recovery funds, and to ensure a safe learning environment for children.

At Friday’s press conference, members of the community told their stories on how much their life changed when President Donald Trump was elected president in 2016. 

For many around the country, the rescinding of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) was the beginning of the start of the next four turbulent years, igniting a new generation of immigration advocates. 

“My motivation for being here today is being overall tired of the injustices that the immigrant community faces,” said Ruby Lagunas. 

“In addition, I am also here to fight and represent my brothers and sisters who are DACA recipients who have lived in so much fear, especially these last four years not knowing if and when their DACA will be taken away from them,” Lagunas added. 

“I want the future generations that are graduating from where they are to be able to have their parents right in the front, cheering them on, blowing the horns, just so that they know that everything that they sacrificed leaving their home country was definitely worth it all.”

Despite new elected presidential leadership —  there are still two senate seats to be decided on — all eyes are now on Georgia as the battle for the majority seats in the senate heats up. 

Republican Sen. David Perdue is now in a runoff race with Democrat Jon Ossof after neither collected 50% of the vote in the state’s Senate race. 

“In terms of what’s going to be possible in the legislative branch, it’s not possible to say at this moment, right now we are waiting for the outcome of two runoff elections to be held January 5th in Georgia,” said Lofgren. 

“The outcomes of those elections will decide who is the majority, Democrats or Republicans in the U.S. Senate and that will make a major difference in terms of what bills can be heard or not.”

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