Immigrant Youth Coalition does not forget its mission

Dreamers Adrift > Undocublog


by Dulce

During the weekend of August 10th to the 12th, youth from across California gathered in Los AngelesA�with a purpose: to learn, connect, and empower. The collective, Immigrant Youth Coalition (IYC) had itsA�first ever retreat with close to 30 youth representing the areas of Los Angeles, San Gabriel Valley, InlandA�Empire, Riverside, and San Francisco. The IYC retreat was no ordinary happening; due to uncontrolledA�factors the group had to move to a different location and was faced with last minute questions suchA�as where are we going to sleep? What are we going to eat? What is our budget? And where will theA�workshops take place? At first this caused anxiety among the IYC members; however, these physicalA�borders did not discourage them from continuing with the mission of the retreat. The weekend wasA�filled with informative workshops, conversations, and long lasting networks. In the end all worked outA�perfectly, even if workshops were held at a public park with weather close to 100 degrees.

As L.Aa��s residents regarded with curiosity the group of youth sitting in a circle underneath a tree shade,A�IYC members discussed isms, community values, an organization skills. In between all of this knowledgeA�there was time for energizers such as the game crossing the border. This game consisted of having eachA�IYC member arrive or reach the other side of the sidewalk (in this case the border) by only being able toA�use a limited amount of sheets of paper that represented safe space. If a member touched the ground, thatA�sheet of paper was taken away. Everyone had to cross; no one could be left behind.

Out of the three groups formed no one made it to the other side completely and several members wereA�left behind. This game, even though it was a game, hit home for a lot of folks in a metaphorical orA�satirical way, such as Antonio. In a jokingly manner, Antonio as well as other members who were leftA�behind yelled out a�?your system is broken, el pollero left us behind, there goes our DREAMs,a�? amongA�other comments. As the game ended, IYC retreat facilitators gathered everyone to debrief what had justA�happened. One of the facilitators named Juan asked the youth how was the challenge first approached.A�In his own words, Juan explains that the game was an interactive way to recognize what happens whenA�organizing. a�?People have different roles; some people dominate because they are very vocal, whileA�the quiet people who know how to get there dona��t get listened to. If we look at the big picture, this is aA�reminder that sometimes we focus solely on the victory and we leave people behind.a�? Even though noneA�of the three groups completely made it across the border, Juan mentions to have felt relaxed and enjoyedA�seeing how the youth questioned the system, or in this case the game.

During the weekend retreat, IYC members demonstrated inclusiveness among different communities.A�Their political analysis and challenging of different systems remind Juan of the student movements backA�in the Civil Rights Era. The IYC officially began in January of 2012 and for Juan a�?is very cool to see theA�IYC grow this quickly. We are a group of people who criticize not for the sake of criticizing but for theA�sake of understanding. It is very exciting to look back at the student movements from the 60a��s and knowA�that today we as youth are doing something similar for the benefit of the community.a�? The dedication andA�respect shown by the IYC youth is a call to actiona��qualities that make the IYC collective a source ofA�empowered undocumented and unafraid youth.

*The names mentioned in this article are pseudonyms due to and for privacy matters.

Dulce is an undocumented activist and writer from the Bay Area.

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One Response to “Immigrant Youth Coalition does not forget its mission”
  1. Juan says:

    First, I would like to clarify that we are not an open brroeds group. Not that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the idea of open brroeds, but it is NOT what we advocate for. Also, I believe if you read what are are actually about, you would feel differently. I encourage you to look at the FIRM principles: 1. Provide a Path to Permanent Resident Status and Citizenship for All Members of Our Communities. Our immigration policy needs to be consistent with reality. Most immigrants are encouraged to come to the United States by economic forces they do not control. Immigrants bring prosperity to this country, yet many are kept in legal limbo. Legalization of the undocumented members of our communities would benefit both immigrants and their families and the U.S.-born, by raising the floor for all and providing all with equal labor protections. 2. Reunite Families and Reduce Immigration Backlogs. Family unity is a guiding principle in federal policy. Immigration reform will not be successful until we harmonize public policy with one of the main factors driving migration: family unity. Currently families are separated by visa waiting periods and processing delays that can last decades. Comprehensive immigration reform must strengthen the family preference system, by increasing the number of visas available both overall and within each category. In addition, the bars to re-entry must be eliminated, so that no one who is eligible for an immigrant visa is punished by being separated from their family for many years. 3. Provide Opportunities for Safe Future Migration and Maintain Worker Protections. 4. Any worker visa program must include provision for full labor rights (such as the right to organize and independent enforcement rights); the right to change jobs; and a path to permanent residence and citizenship. A regulated worker visa process must meet clearly defined labor market needs, and must not resemble current or historic temporary worker programs. The new system must create a legal and safe alternative for migrants, facilitate and enforce equal rights for all workers, and minimize the opportunities for abuse by unscrupulous employers and others. 5. Respect the Safety and Security of All in Immigration Law Enforcement. Immigration enforcement laws already in place are creating fear among immigrant and nonimmigrant communities alike. Ineffective and costly policies should not be expanded, but new alternatives and solutions should be sought. Fair enforcement practices are critical to rebuilding trust among immigrant communities and protecting the security of all. Any immigration law enforcement should be conducted with professionalism, accountability, and respect. Furthermore, there should be effective enforcement of laws against human trafficking, and a border strategy that emphasizes training, accountability and competency that rejects militarizing the border with Mexico. In all cases, immigration reform must respect clear boundaries between federal immigration enforcement, local law enforcement and the enforcement of labor laws. 6. Recognize Immigrants’ Full Humanity and Eliminate Barriers to Full Participation. Immigrants are more than just workers. Immigrants are neighbors, family members, students, members of our society, and an essential part of the future of the United States. Our immigration policies should provide immigrants with opportunities to learn English, naturalize, lead prosperous lives, engage in cultural expression, and receive equitable access to needed services and higher education. FIRM opposes unreasonable barriers to naturalization, including excessive fees, endless and discriminatory background checks, and grinding bureaucracy. 7. Restore Fundamental Civil Rights of Immigrants. Since September 11, 2001, selective and discriminatory implementation of sweeping law enforcement policies has not only failed to make us safer from future attacks, but undermined our security while eroding fundamental civil liberties. Failure to protect these fundamental rights goes against the core values of a democracy, and, therefore, the United States. For the benefit of everyone, and not just immigrants, these basic rights must be restored and protected. 8. Protect the Rights of Refugees and Asylees. The United States has always been viewed as a safe haven for those fleeing persecution. Yet, since September 11, 2001, significantly fewer refugees have been admitted. The U.S. government has an obligation to remove barriers to admission and save the lives of thousands of people across the world fleeing for their lives. In addition, our current policies treat many asylees unequally based on their country of origin. Our country must ensure fair and equal treatment of individuals and their family members seeking asylum, and end the inhumane detention and warehousing of asylum seekers. 9. Economic Justice. America’s immigration system plays an important and often under-recognized role in United States labor policy, opening doors to particular populations to serve the short and long-term needs of American industry. Under such a dynamic, immigrants can be pitted against native-born workers in a labor market under stress from general economic insecurity. We believe strongly in the solidarity of all workers, especially low wage workers. Any worker – immigrant or native born – vulnerable to exploitation threatens the standing of all workers. 10. No Criminalization. The United States has a long and revered immigrant past; however current immigration laws, which seek to criminalize future flows of immigrants and workers, undermine that history. Governments that selectively legislate certain groups of people as criminal in their behavior or appearance and limit access to government services and protections under this basis run the risk of creating abuse of authority and discrimination. Such abuse increases exponentially when factors of race, religion, national origin, and sexual orientation are involved. 11. Restore the number of refugees that enter the United States to pre 9-11 levels.Thank you.

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