img_9307On December 20th various lawyer representatives and human rights organizations gathered at the steps of Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, for a press conference organized by the Universal Representation Coalition, to show their support for the “Due Process For All” measure. The fight to advocate on behalf of immigrants to receive due process has required much resiliency from activist groups and immigrants. With deportations at a record high and promises by the president-elect to increase the number, “Due Process For All” has become an urgent need for the county of Los Angeles. Aware of the circumstances, individuals stood in solidarity, shared their stories, and shouted uplifting chants.
After the press conference the group gathered for a public hearing with the Board of Supervisors on the “Due Process For All” measure being voted on. There were over 100 speakers that expressed their stance on the matter, with a majority asking the Board of Supervisors to support the motion. Supporting speakers continuously reminded the board that immigration law is one of the most complex forms of law; nevertheless, we are having individuals defend themselves against government lawyers when the majority of them do not speak English. The opposing group felt that LA County should not expend funds on this matter and instead use money to aid U.S. citizens. While it was upsetting to hear references to an “oppression olympics,” activists remained composed and urged the audience to think about justice, compassion, empathy, and due process for all. They proceeded to share that we may not continue to label immigrants as criminals or terrorists to look the other way and not provide them representation. This is how fear rhetoric works, it seeks to divide us.
By the time the Board of Supervisors had to deliberate, there had been a heavy exchange of statements made by both opposing and supporting parties. In the end the Board of Supervisors majority ruled in favor of “Due Process For All.” This marked a huge win for immigration activists and immigrants in LA County, however there is still a lot more to be done. The measure’s funding has been provisionally approved, but it remains to be seen what limitations will be placed on accessing the funds. There is great fear that the funds will only be used to help existing programs like Deferred Action for Parents of America (DAPA) and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and will label a majority population as criminals to restrain them from accessing legal representation with removal proceedings. In January the measure will resurface, activists continue to organize in cementing a measure that serves everyone, not just a select few.
Currently, CALCASA is working to extend resources through several grants focused on serving immigrant communities that include but are not limited to detention centers; immigration status (U-visa); immigration law; farm workers; janitorial workers; and collaborations with organizations such as the National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP). Working with immigrant communities is important because many immigrants have encountered life-threatening situations, find themselves living in fear, detained, and/or separated from their families. CALCASA’s advocacy work to center immigrant communities will provide access, services, resources, and legal remedies that will empower immigrant families and lead to fair and just systems.
Post written by: Elizabeth Torres Mejia, CALCASA Program Assistant
elizabeth_photoElizabeth Torres Mejia majored in Women’s and Gender Studies and minored in Psychology at Wellesley College. Elizabeth’s long term commitment to human rights began at a young age and stems from personal hardships and the desire to help others. It is her aspiration to teach trauma-informed yoga and promote healing through a trauma informed and empowerment model.  In her free time you can catch her in a yoga class, exploring the great outdoors with her dog, or volunteering.