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art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

“ Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral. ” – Paulo Freire, Educator

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MAY 10, 2013 / BY JESUS IÑIGUEZ Why Do We Need Immigration Reform?
Comprehensive Immigration Reform is on the forefront of all politics nowadays, and while conversations around the legislation are taking place behind closed doors between senators, and amendments and deals are being voted on, community members are rallying to press for a humane and just approach to this looming immigration legislation.

We decided to reach out to different members and ask them to tell us why they believe Immigration Reform is so important for our communities.

In collaboration with S.I.R.E.N. (Services Immigrants Rights & Education Network), we found volunteers who were very open and willing to share their stories and thoughts. Below is one of their narratives:

"My name is Ana Gonzalez. I am a student at San Jose State University and an Immigration Reform Activist. I was brought into this country in 1983 when I was only 8 months old. I am now 30 years old with dreams of working for the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). I also have aspirations to work as a sustainable green interior designer, and as a director/actress. I am currently living in transitional housing, temporary housing for women.

My siblings and I were raised by my parents. Upon arriving here, we lived in a trailer for about 5 years that my father would park in silent streets, parking lots, and/or camping sites. When I was 14, one of my aunts passed away in Mexico and my father left the United States to attend her funeral. This was the last time that I saw my father. While abroad in Mexico, he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was only 42 years old. I was not able to travel and attend his funeral because of my undocumented status.

I attended school and graduated with honors after dropping out for 5 years and then going back to adult school, graduating with a 3.5 GPA. Five years ago, my grandfather in Mexico died, and once again I was not able to attend his funeral due to my immigration status. During this same time, my marriage to an emotionally abusive husband ended, and I found myself as a divorced college-transfer student (I received an AA degree having graduated as part of the high honors society and a 3.8 GPA). I decided to complete my bachelors degree at California State University San Jose. This past year is the first time I was able to receive financial aid to help pay for my schooling as part of the California DREAM ACT. I cried when I found out I was eligible for student aid. I also applied for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals seven months ago; my case is still under review.

I am also a sexual abuse survivor. I was first abused when I was only 7 years old. It happened once more when I was 19. I was too afraid to cooperate with the police about my abuse, afraid that I’d get deported or that members of my family would be deported if I worked with the police department, so instead I stayed silent. Not too long ago, I was sexually assaulted once more, but this time, I found the courage to speak up. These are struggles and fears which I and many other immigrant women face today and everyday.

Once my DACA application is approved, I will be able to travel, I’ll have a social security number, and I’ll be able to get a drivers license. But it does not provide a pathway to citizenship.

Families need a pathway to citizenship along with the broadest package we can get so no family member gets excluded. It is essential and important to keep families together, to be able to work and travel and not be scared anymore. I am urging law makers to take action, I am urging for a massive reform along with several key points which include:

1. Family unification
2. A pathway to Citizenship
3. Fair treatment from workers

There is unity in the family. We all stand together as a larger family."