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Sat, Apr

Can the World’s Tired and Poor Ever ‘Breathe Free’ in Today’s America?

JUST SAYIN’-President Obama’s immigration strategies for the currently undocumented offer great promise for their futures in this country.  After all, this is a nation known for its welcome, prominently emblazoned on our Statue of Liberty (a gift from the French whose own motto is “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity”), so we must live up to this commitment—our word should be our bond: 

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send those, the homeless, temptest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.” --Emma Lazarus 

If this plaque is the first structure which many immigrants see when arriving at our land, why are so many so-called Americans unwilling to live up to its intentions and offer to others the opportunities they themselves have been given?  When so many of our ancestors (or even ourselves) have left other countries … in which they often found great injustices and oppression and few possibilities for anything but a grim future … to find a new life, why is it, quite ironically, that once they become established here, so many forget their own pasts and turn their backs on other immigrants desiring the same opportunities of which they have been able to take advantage. 

This attitude is simply confounding to me.  Our centuries-long history has been spotted with law after law to keep “foreigners” out (remember the Alien and Sedition Laws?).  And these strangers were not, for the most part, Latinos, but people from Europe, Africa, and Asia—people who largely built the country we have today, the one we take for granted. 

And yet it always seems that the mantra so many (quietly or secretly) repeat is, “Now that I’ve got mine, you’re not entitled to yours—you can’t share a portion of the pot!” 

Today, over the last few decades, we are witnessing an influx of large numbers of people crossing our borders (some legally, others as undocumented), 40% of whom are not Latinos.  And regardless of background, they are also largely responsible for building our nation even now. 

A critical issue facing us is that many of our young people (many of whom are excelling in our schools both academically and artistically) are being told that because their parents brought them here as young children without documentation, they are not welcome. 

Great numbers have not only excelled in high school, but have also been so successful in colleges and universities that they have become our doctors, lawyers, scientists, and engineers who are making tremendous contributions in our communities. 

At the same time, they are living under stressful conditions—always worrying about whether they will be forced to a land so unfamiliar to them that some have no fluency at  all in the language of their “homeland.”  They live in constant fear that they will be separated (perhaps forever) from their families. 

Many want to contribute in broader ways by voting or being a legislative staffer or even running for office themselves—considerations that do not apply to them now. 

For all these reasons, President Obama has acted on this pressing issue (since the current Congress won’t).  He is not the first, however, who has tried unsuccessfully to enact fair and just legislation to resolve our immigration crisis.  The then-Congressmember (now Senator) Jeff Flake (R) worked with current Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez (D) in a bi-partisan effort on a bill (2007) under the George W. Bush Administration.  It was not a perfect law, and though Bush would likely have signed it, the measure failed to make it through Congress. 

Under the present Administration, DACA (Deferred Action  for Childhood Arrivals) went into effect in 2012.  I remember helping to get very excited young people to sign up.  These children had to have entered the country before the age of 16 and before 2007.  They must be at least 15 and have proof that they are pursuing their education—high school, GED, college, and so forth.  Their documents are good for 2 years on a renewable basis but do not provide a pathway to citizenship.  It does, however, take the onus off the shoulders of these young people who can come out of the shadows without fear of deportation.  As of 2014, one half million young people are living under DACA protection. 

This year there is a new program, DAPA, ( Deferred Action for Parental Responsibility) for the undocumented parents of DACA children or of their children born in America.  Unfortunately, the measure is sadly being held up from implementation by a Texas court ruling (which is expected to be overturned in the near future).  That ruling is also holding up the expansion of DACA which would grant 3-year renewals and also allow young people to apply who have entered the country before 2010. 

In the meantime, applications for both programs are being accepted and kept on file (personal details will not be shared) until there is resolution to this pressing matter. 

With that in mind, Congressmember Tony Cárdenas (California’s 29th District) is sponsoring a forum this coming Saturday. 

The opening ceremony will not only feature Congressmember Cárdenas but also the inspiring Luis Gutiérrez.  After that introduction, booths will have been set up to offer helpful literature.  Trained “Family Defenders” will sit with prospective DACA/DAPA applicants and walk them through the process which is open to all.  People do not need to live in Congressmember Cárdenas’ District in order to attend and apply. 

Furthermore, immigration attorneys will be available, for free, to answer questions that applicants might have about their background, and material will be distributed to answer a lot of the “How to/Where to” questions applicants might have. 

This will be an outstanding program—well-organized and well-planned, and user-friendly.  Spanish translators will be available and forms will be available in both English and Spanish. 

If this information applies to you, please consider attending.  Even if it does not, please share the information that is listed below with others who could benefit. 

DACA and DAPA have great potential.  They offer promise to nearly all those who have been struggling with their status.  These are programs that deserve being embraced. 

Just sayin’.

 

The event: 

Saturday, March 21, 2015, 1 to 3 p.m.           

Panorama High School Auditorium

8015 Van Nuys Boulevard

(just south of Roscoe on the west side)

Panorama City 

Parking in rear or on the street (beware of parking signs) 

For more information, please contact the following: 

The office of Congressmember Cárdenas:  818-781-7407                                   

Department of Public Social Services:  866-613-3777

Background Check:  818-207-1612

Live Scan Fingerprinting:  818-892-6141

Obtain Formswww.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals 

(Never pay for these forms!!!) 

Beware of SCAM ARTISTS!!! 

ALL OF THIS WILL BE EXPLAINED AT THE EVENT!!

 

(Rosemary Jenkins is a Democratic activist and chair of the Northeast Valley Green Alliance. Jenkins has written A Quick-and-Easy Reference to Correct Grammar and Composition, Leticia in Her Wedding Dress and Other Poems, and Vignettes for Understanding Literary and Related Concepts.  She also writes for CityWatch. Views expressed in this column are not necessarily those of CityWatch.)  

-cw

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 23

Pub: Mar 17, 2015