UCLA Labor Center

UCLA Dream Resource Center Hiring Alumni Coordinator and Project Coordinators

 

The UCLA Dream Resource Center is looking to hire an Alumni Coordinator and two Project Coordinators. The deadline to apply has been extended from June 29, 2021 to July 9, 2021. Applications are now due July 9, 2021.

Overview & Candidate Characteristics

The UCLA Dream Resource Center (DRC), a program team of the UCLA Labor Center, trains the next generation of diverse leaders—immigrant youth and allies with lived experiences—to be at the forefront of social justice movements and achieve equity and justice for workers, families, and communities. The DRC believes that anyone can be a leader and make positive social change in their communities and that everyone deserves the right to learn, be healthy, and pursue their dreams—regardless of their immigration status.

The Alumni Coordinator and Project Coordinators will help advance the DRC’s mission; continue the legacy of building immigrant youth power; and uplift, connect, and channel the collective power of over 750 alumni across the nation. Ideal candidates for the positions:

  • Have an understanding of the immigrant rights, labor, and social justice movements.
  • Are friendly, engaging, and great public speakers.
  • Are self-driven; however, know how to ask for help when needed.
  • Can build and cultivate relationships with various communities, people, stakeholders, partner organizations, funders, etc.
  • Are collaborative, work well with different teams, and demonstrate effective facilitation skills.
  • Are problem solvers, innovative, organized, patient, and timely.
  • Have an understanding of fundraising, fund development, and communications.
  • Are knowledgeable on CRM databases and can organize a lot of data.
  • Have experience in curriculum development, event planning, report creation, and supervising large groups of people.

Alumni Coordinator
Requisition Number: 33695

The Alumni Coordinator will be responsible for overseeing the planning, implementation, and evaluation of the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s (DRC) Alumni Council and Network. The Alumni Coordinator will:

  • Oversee the DRC Alumni Council and Network project planning, budget development, and management.
  • Facilitate effective teamwork among project staff and represent the DRC at external events.
  • Serve as a liaison with project funders and aid in fundraising efforts, develop project grant applications and reports, and evaluate and report on project effectiveness.
  • Oversee project implementation, including developing outreach strategy and tracking benchmarks, building strategic partnerships for the program, developing media strategy to promote the program, reviewing and selecting participants, facilitating training sessions, direct training and mentoring of participants and volunteers, managing participant engagement in external training conferences and events, connecting participants to mentors and other resources, and engaging DRC program alumni.
  • Participate in the management and implementation of other DRC activities.

Please review the full details for this position on the UCLA Career Opportunities website.

Project Coordinators
Project Coordinator 1 (Requisition Number: 33690)
Project Coordinator 2 (Requisition Number: 33694)

The Project Coordinators will conduct research on immigrant student issues and plan, coordinate, and implement UCLA Dream Resource Center programming (including leadership development trainings, fellowships, conferences, and workshops). The responsibilities of the Project Coordinators include:

  • Planning and development of agendas and curriculum.
  • Implementation of DRC leadership, education, and training workshops and conferences.
  • Program facilitation, outreach and recruitment, program evaluation, budgeting, maintaining relationships with stakeholders, and oversight of related clerical detail.
  • Conducting education and outreach to immigrant youth networks nationwide through public speaking and social and traditional media.
  • Outreaching to funders and writing funding proposals and narrative reports for funders.

Please review the full details for these positions on the UCLA Career Opportunities website.

How to Apply & View Job Details

To apply and view the full job details of each position, please follow these instructions:

  1. Go to the UCLA Career Opportunities website.
  2. Click on the “Search Jobs” tab.
  3. Enter the listed “requisition number” of the position you are applying for in the appropriate search field box.
  4. Click “search.”
  5. To view the position details and apply to the position, click on the “view” link below the Job Title.

If you need a visual guide for these instructions, please watch this video.

Contact Information

For questions, please contact the UCLA Dream Resource Center at dreamresourcecenter@gmail.com.

FAQ

Are these positions remote?

No, these positions are not remote. UCLA Dream Resource Center staff are projected to return to in-person work at the UCLA Labor Center downtown building (675 S Park View St, Los Angeles, CA) in the fall of 2021.

Are undocumented folks eligible for these positions?

Unfortunately, you must have a work permit to be a UCLA employee, so undocumented folks are not eligible. We hope this policy will change in the future.

Are DACA recipients eligible for these positions?

Yes. If you have a valid work permit, you are eligible.

I’m interested in the Project Coordinator positions, should I apply to both job listings (Project Coordinator 1 Requisition Number: 33690 and Project Coordinator 2 Requisition Number: 33694)?

No, please submit your application to only one of the listings. Your application will be considered for both positions.

Denise Panaligan, 2021-2022 DRC Alumni Council Member

Denise Panaligan, alum of the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s (DRC) 2013 Dream Summer fellowship, will serve as a 2021-2022 DRC Alumni Council member. Along with eight other council members, Denise will guide the DRC’s Alumni Network and advise the DRC staff team on programmatic priorities. The DRC Alumni Council will also lead professional and leadership development for alumni, while supporting and mentoring current DRC fellows.

Biography

Denise was born in the Philippines and raised in Koreatown (Los Angeles, CA). She is currently a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and is passionate about immigrant rights, working with young people, and education. Her passion is a result of her lived experience as an undocumented immigrant. During high school, Denise did not receive the support she needed because her teachers did not know how to assist a student with an undocumented immigration status.

This traumatic event sparked Denise’s decision to work towards a world where schools can be a place of belonging and access to quality education is the norm, not the exception. Denise is currently working towards a doctorate degree in education leadership. Her dissertation focuses on eliminating racial disparities in school discipline through restorative justice, increasing resource equity for marginalized students, and sustaining civil rights protections.

Over the course of her academic and professional career, Denise has engaged in external affairs strategy, executed media relations, conducted policy analysis, and developed coalitions with diverse stakeholders. In October 2020, Denise was featured in a roundtable discussion for Fresh Off the Vote’s podcast episode, “Untangling Undocumented,” that examines how race and law work together to erase Asian Americans from the undocumented narrative. The roundtable also shared resources for audience members to complicate and untangle their notions of “legal immigration.”

Q&A with Denise  

Why did you apply to the DRC Alumni Council?

“During Dream Summer 2013, Yves Gomes, a fellow alum of the program, shared a quote with me from Yuri Kochiyama, ‘Remember that consciousness is power. Consciousness is education and knowledge. Consciousness is becoming aware. It is the perfect vehicle for students.’ It was this quote and my interest in ensuring that decisions are grounded in the core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion that motivated me to invest deeply in the DRC Alumni Council.”

What are you looking forward to the most as a council member?

 “I look forward to developing my expertise on immigration policy and being a DRC thought partner. The DRC’s Dream Summer fellowship was a catalyst in my life that enabled me to operationalize vision and develop strong organizational skills. I am excited to play a major role in supporting the DRC’s efforts in community education, partnerships, and fundraising.”

We Matter: A Poem for Immigrant Justice

The UCLA Dream Resource Center (DRC) invites you to read “We Matter,” a poem by 2020-21 Immigrant Justice fellow Sara Alagha. The Immigrant Justice Fellowship is the DRC’s 12-month California-based fellowship that provides emerging leaders organizing and advocacy experience in the immigrant rights movement. Fellows are placed with on-the-ground organizations that address the criminalization of immigrants and health and wellness issues.

Sara was placed with the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA), a research, public policy, and community organizing hub dedicated to advancing the full economic, social, and civic inclusion of refugees. Throughout the fellowship, Sara worked alongside PANA to assist immigrant and refugee communities primarily from Syria and Burma. Touched by Sara’s dedication to justice, many community members provided Sara a dua (Arabic word of prayer). They prayed for her health, wealth, family, and success.

Sara wrote the poem “We Matter” to express her gratitude for their prayers and to express the deep connection she has with community members. As an immigrant from Syria, Sara understands firsthand the challenges community members are facing. “Poetry is highly valued in my culture, ‘We Matter’ shows appreciation to my culture and community. The poem highlights the words of gratitude community members gave me and emphasizes their resilience and compassion, despite the trauma many of them have been through.”- Sara Alagha

 

Meet Freddy Lopez, 2020 Dream Summer Graduate

Placed with APALA, AFL-CIO for Dream Summer 2020.

Biography 

Freddy Lopez was born in Guatemala and has lived in Virginia since the age of 12. He is a junior at George Mason University’s Honors College majoring in Sociology.

Freddy is currently the Internal VP of UndocuMason, a student-led organization at GMU that aims to create a more inclusive environment for undocumented immigrants through education and advocacy. As the Internal VP, Freddy advocates for the implementation of in-state tuition and university-led fundraising for undocumented students. Freddy is also an UndocuAlly Trainer at GMU. He trains hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and fellow organizers on how to be a better ally for the undocumented community.

Freddy also uses his organizing skills to advocate at the state level. He advocated for the newly implemented Virgnia legislation that grants in-state tuition to undocumented students and provides “driving privilege cards” to undocumented immigrants. After graduating from GMU, Freddy plans to attend law school and use his J.D. to continue fighting for the rights of immigrants. He hopes to continue working closely with his community and to one day become a legal resource for a youth-led organization.

We asked Freddy: What was your experience with the Dream Summer fellowship like? 

“I am very grateful to have spent the fellowship with the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA), AFL-CIO. Working with APALA has been an eye-opening experience that helped me realize the importance of intersectionality and being community-oriented when advocating, especially within the labor movement. During my time with APALA, I had the opportunity to work on three major projects that allowed me to get a front-row seat into the current landscape of the labor movement and the issues facing the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, especially during the COVID-19 health crisis.

Through APALA, I worked with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans’ (NCAPA) Housing and Economic Justice Committee. I co-led the development of a virtual teach-in about economic justice and the AAPI identity. During the teach-in, we discussed how the needs of working class AAPI communities are often ignored due to the model minority myth and how to create a movement that builds political power for those most marginalized. While working with NCAPA, I learned about the different ways organizations collectively organize and advocate for housing and economic issues impacting AAPIs at the national level.

I also had the opportunity to help create APALA’s 2020 Emerging Leaders Training (ELT) program. The program helps APALA members build their individual leadership; strategize chapter recruitment and engagement; and create actionable goals for racial and economic justice. I learned so much from participating in the creation of this program. My colleagues and APALA’s National Board Members provided me with insight into what organizing and leadership within the movement truly means, especially when aiming to train fellow organizers like APALA members at the national level.

I also helped lead APALA’s “National Healthcare Workforce Infection Prevention Control (IPC) Training Initiative,” a CDC sponsored initiative to develop a user informed, culturally competent, COVID-19 IPC curriculum to help train AAPI healthcare workers. I worked with union leaders, APALA members, and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum to launch this initiative that is expected to aid AAPI workers on the frontline across the nation.

These 3 projects have equipped me with priceless skills and knowledge that have helped me realize the many different ways in which I, a brown first-generation immigrant, can go from thinking I had no voice, to using what I know to uplift the voices of the most marginalized and organize for collective liberation.”

We asked Freddy: How has the Dream Summer fellowship helped you grow?

“My time at APALA has helped me become confident in my ability to organize, strategize, and lead. At the same time, APALA has taught me the importance of looking at issues through an intersectional lens and to always uplift the voices of the communities impacted by social inequality in the U.S. I learned from so many AAPI leaders who taught me what collective liberation truly means and helped strengthen my skills. I am forever grateful to APALA for welcoming me with open arms.

As I plan for my next steps post-graduation, I hope to use everything I have learned from APALA and the fellowship to continue my role in the movement.”

Learn more about Dream Summer here.

SCOTUS Decision on DACA & Resources

“DACA rally” by Victoria Pickering

***July 28, 2020 Update: The Trump administration announced on Tuesday, July 28th, that it will continue to defy the Supreme Court’s order to restore DACA. By doing so, the administration is effectively rejecting the judiciary’s authority and placing the lives of undocumented young people in danger. Read the DHS Memorandum on DACA here.

Content Below was Published on June 19th, 2020

The US Supreme Court ruled on Thursday, June 18th, to allow the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to remain in place. The Dream Resource Center, at the UCLA Labor Center, celebrates this critical victory won by undocumented youth. DACA became a reality because of the continued organizing efforts of undocumented young people!

The ruling returns DACA to its initial 2012 form and reopens the DACA program to new applicants. However, we cannot know for sure whether DHS will accept new applications until they release guidance. All eligible individuals are encouraged to consult with a qualified and reputable immigration attorney to apply for, or renew, their DACA.

Although this decision is a win for our communities, DACA is not a permanent solution. We need to come together, organize, and demand a permanent solution for immigrant youth and all 11 million undocumented people living in the US. The fight for a welcoming and just society, where immigrant youth and their families can thrive­­, does not end with this decision.

As the fight for a permanent solution continues, the immigrant rights movement must also commit to fighting for justice for Black communities. We must echo the demand from the Black Lives Matter movement to defund the police and also be clear that we must abolish ICE. The immigrant rights movement must stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, recognizing that our Black immigrant siblings live at the intersections of both movements.

DACA Application and Renewal Guidance Resources

The following information will help DACA recipients prepare for filing, but should not be considered as legal advice and should not replace legal advice from an attorney or certified representative. Everyone’s case is different, which is why we strongly urge DACA recipients and first-time applicants to consider seeking out assistance from local non-profit organizations that provide free to low cost legal assistance.

Mario Perez, 2020 IJF Fellow

Mario Perez

Inland Empire Fellow

Host Organization: Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice

Meet Mario Perez! Mario is the Inland Empire fellow for the 2020 Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF), the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s California-wide rapid-response fellowship. The fellowship empowers and defends immigrant communities from mass detention and deportation by creating a partnership between immigrant youth leaders, on-the-ground organizations, and the UCLA Dream Resource Center. Learn more about IJF here.

Mario is an alum of the 2019 IJF cohort and was selected for this year’s cohort because of his exceptional dedication to the immigrant rights movement. Mario will be hosted by the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (IC4IJ). IC4IJ is composed of 35 organizations that collectively advocate and work to improve the lives of immigrant communities in the Inland Empire, while working toward a just solution to the current US immigration system. Learn more about IC4IJ on their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Q&A with Mario

What do you want us and our community to know about you?

“I want them to know that I am dedicated to protecting and defending the rights of our immigrant communities because they are amazing, resilient, and thriving communities. The best part of my work, as an immigrant rights activist, is providing humanitarian support to the undocumented immigrant community. I take great responsibility and pride when I support the community in any way possible.”

What about the fellowship are you excited about? 

“I am excited to return to IJF because my experience with the 2019 cohort was amazing. I grew so much from the education and wisdom provided to me by everyone involved in the project. I look forward to continuing my development and growth in the social justice movement through IJF.”

What drives you?

“My family and my community drive me. As an immigrant myself, I fight for the immigrant community but also for myself because if they thrive, I thrive. If they succeed, I succeed. I have the responsibility to do better for my community.”

What are your hobbies or what makes you YOU?

“I am a complex human. I love the arts, especially music and fashion. I enjoy going to music and fashion themed museums. I could live off gummy bears and peach rings. My favorite show, at the moment, is Big Little Lies and I love watching The Trixie & Katya Show. Something unique about me is that I am obsessed with Russian culture.”

Deyanira Cuellar, 2020 IJF Fellow

Deyanira Cuellar

Fresno Fellow

Host Organization: Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative

Meet Deyanira Cuellar! Deyanira is the Fresno fellow for the 2020 Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF), the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s California-wide rapid-response fellowship. The fellowship empowers and defends immigrant communities from mass detention and deportation by creating a partnership between immigrant youth leaders, on-the-ground organizations, and the UCLA Dream Resource Center. Learn more about IJF here.

Deyanira will be hosted by the Central Valley Immigrant Integration Collaborative (CVIIC). CVIIC empowers immigrant families, strengthens the capacity of immigrant-serving organizations, and promotes coordination and collaboration that strengthens efforts to create strong, vibrant, and inclusive communities for immigrants. CVIIC is based in Fresno County but serves families from Kern County in the south to San Joaquin County in the north. Learn more about CVIIC on their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Q&A with Deyanira

We asked Deyanira a few questions to get to know her and understand why she is joining the 2020 Immigrant Justice fellowship.

What do you want us and our community to know about you?

“I was originally born in Michoacán, Mexico; however, I have spent most of my life in the Central Valley. Growing up I was always hyperware of my undocumented status, while I didn’t know exactly what it meant at the time, I understood that I could not be open about where I was born. Revealing my status could put myself and my family in danger.

My fears were solidified when my father was deported after a traffic stop, when I was in elementary school. The event led to my passion for helping immigrant communities, regardless of immigration status, understand their rights and get the adequate representation they deserve.

I’ve channeled this passion into my educational and professional experiences. I’ll be a first-generation college graduate this May with a B.A. in Political Science from UC Merced. At UC Merced, I had the opportunity to become an immigration intern at the International Rescue Committee in Turlock, CA. After a few months, I was hired as a caseworker and then promoted to a specialist in the management of a federal grant serving refugees and asylees. My work with the International Rescue Committee solidified my passion for helping our immigrant communities.”

What about the fellowship are you excited about? 

“I’m excited about focusing my work and advocacy in the Central Valley because, having grown up in the region, I know that the Central Valley community is often neglected. We lack an abundance of resources especially for immigrant communities, that is why I want to focus my work and advocacy in the Central Valley for the rest of my life.

I’m also excited about getting to know my communities even more and helping them get adequate access to information, resources, and services they need. For example, many Central Valley communities and families lack access to mental health services. I’m excited about expanding their access to these kinds of services.”

What drives you?

“My biggest inspiration is my mom, who has been a single parent for most of my life. Whenever I need inspiration, I look to her and think of all the sacrifices she made for my education to be possible. My mom has instilled in me many important values like sharing everything I have, even if it is not that much. My younger siblings are also an inspiration for me. I’ve been able to guide them and hope to continue to be a good role model for them.”

What are your hobbies or what makes you YOU?

“In my free time, I love being able to spend time with my family. My mom has 14 siblings who we try and get together with weekly. It provides me so much comfort to just laugh and talk over a carne asada with them. I also enjoy going out with friends and just always having a good time. I am also always down to binge watch any series on Netflix like HTGAWM or Jane the Virgin.”

Eva-Vera Kouassi Clollet, 2020 IJF Fellow

Eva-Vera Kouassi Clollet

Inland Empire Fellow

Host Organization: Black Alliance for Just Immigration

Meet Eva-Vera Kouassi Clollet! Eva is the Inland Empire fellow for the 2020 Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF), the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s California-wide rapid-response fellowship. The fellowship empowers and defends immigrant communities from mass detention and deportation by creating a partnership between immigrant youth leaders, on-the-ground organizations, and the UCLA Dream Resource Center. Learn more about IJF here.

Eva will be hosted by the Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI). BAJI is a human rights and racial justice organization that educates, advocates, and organizes on behalf of over 10 million Black immigrants and refugees in the US while building power with African Americans to fight for racial, economic, and social justice. Learn more about BAJI on their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Q&A with Eva

We asked Eva a few questions to get to know her and understand why she is joining the 2020 Immigrant Justice fellowship. 

What do you want us and our community to know about you?

“My name is Eva-Vera Kouassi and my pronouns are she/her/hers. I am the eldest of three children and I grew up in the Ivory Coast, a beautiful country located in West Africa. My cultural background allows me to speak four languages: English, French, and two African languages (Baoulé and Bamileke). I will be graduating soon with a B.A. in Political Science from UC Riverside. I am thankful for the opportunity to join the 2020 Immigrant Justice Fellowship.”

What about the fellowship are you excited about? 

“I am excited to meet the other fellows and share my experience with everybody. I am eager to learn from this fellowship and help my community to the best of my ability.”

What drives you?

“The values and principles I walk by are kindness, integrity, justice, honesty, determination, and courage. These values and principles are what drive me to follow up on my commitments and think of others first. My motto in life is ‘you are what you do,’ consequently I always strive to do what is right and be an example to others. I also value love, happiness, compassion, and things that make me feel valued and bring inner happiness.” 

What are your hobbies or what makes you YOU? 

“I really enjoy learning new things. I constantly seek out new learning opportunities. I am also a very creative person and passionate about art in all of its shapes. Museums are my favorite places to visit and I love painting. It is a great way to express yourself. I also like to spend some of my free time doing creative “DIY” projects.”

Sara Alagha, 2020 IJF Fellow

Sara Alagha

San Diego Fellow

Host Organization: Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans

Meet Sara Alagha! Sara is the San Diego fellow for the 2020 Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF), the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s California-wide rapid-response fellowship. The fellowship empowers and defends immigrant communities from mass detention and deportation by creating a partnership between immigrant youth leaders, on-the-ground organizations, and the UCLA Dream Resource Center. Learn more about IJF here.

Sara will be hosted by the Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans (PANA) to strengthen her skills as an immigrant rights advocate. PANA is a research, public policy, and community organizing hub dedicated to advancing the full economic, social, and civic inclusion of refugees. Learn more about PANA on their website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

Q&A with Sara

We asked Sara a few questions to get to know her and understand why she is joining the 2020 Immigrant Justice fellowship. 

What do you want us and our community to know about you?

“I recently graduated from San Diego State University, in 2019, with a B.A. in Political Science and a minor in Sociology. My family is originally from Syria and we lived there for several years when I was a child. I am fluent in both Arabic and English and pride myself on being bilingual.”

What about the fellowship are you excited about? 

“I’m most excited about developing my skills and taking on new challenges that can help me grow as an individual. I’m also looking forward to working more directly with the immigrant community in San Diego because I feel that I can connect with them, considering that I come from an immigrant family myself.”

What drives you?

“My strong sense of justice and equality is what drives me. I believe in helping those who are neglected or oppressed by the system and elevating their voices to collectively fight for their rights. I believe in uniting our voices to reach a common goal, and that’s equality.”

What are your hobbies or what makes you YOU? 

“Some of my hobbies include watching reruns of The Office and Friends, spending quality time with my friends and family, taking frequent walks among nature, and going to the beach. I also love to travel any chance I get. Earlier this year, I visited Morocco and Portugal.

Immigrant Rights Advocate & IJF Alum: Mario Perez

Mario Perez

Mario Perez is an alum of the 2019 Immigrant Justice Fellowship. The Immigrant Justice Fellowship (IJF) is a project of the UCLA Labor Center’s Dream Resource Center (DRC). IJF is a California rapid response fellowship that aims to: (1) center the voices and experiences of undocumented immigrant youth in the immigrant rights movement, (2) protect and defend undocumented communities from mass detention and deportation, and (3) create a welcoming, healthy, and just society for immigrants. During the fellowship, Mario was placed at the Inland Coalition for Immigrant Justice (ICIJ) where he protected and advocated for the rights of immigrants.

Mario with ICIJ Staff

Mario strengthened ICIJ’s Emergency Response Network and deportation defense programs with his innovative ideas and amazing leadership skills. He led ICIJ’s yearly rapid response retreat, helped build and restructure the Emergency Response Network, and increased the impact of rapid response work in the Inland Empire. His leadership was instrumental in providing shelter and transitional support to over 570 migrant families abandoned by Border Patrol in San Bernardino on May 2019.

Mario and the Emergency Response Network volunteers at an ERN retreat.

The UCLA Labor Center and Dream Resource Center are very proud of Mario’s dedication to immigrant rights and would like to present to you his reflection piece, entitled Responding with Hope, about a significant moment he experienced during the fellowship.

 

Responding with Hope

By Mario Perez

One of the most important reasons I became involved in the immigrant rights movement is the desire to support families that are directly impacted by the unjust immigration system that oppresses our migrant community. As a directly impacted individual that was formerly detained, my mission is to be of service to families that have been affected by the detention or deportation of a loved one.

Through the Inland Empire’s Rapid Response Network, we are able to identify and respond to community members that find themselves facing ICE on a regular basis. On one particular instance, we received a call from a community member who informed us that their family member, named Jose, had been detained by ICE outside of his workplace. ICE had been surveying Jose’s workplace for some time because the company was allegedly hiring udocumented folks. It just so happens that my colleague, Jennaya, and I had just distributed Rapid Response Network cards in the community earlier that day and this family got a hold of one of our cards and gave us a call to support Jose.

Jennaya and I responded to the call as quickly as possible—we know that time is of the essence with immigration matters. We made an appointment to meet with Jose’s wife at their home to conduct an intake, identify the situation they were facing, and assess how to support their case. However, we did not know that Jose’s children had not been notified of his arrest. Ultimately, it was Jennaya and I who would break the news to them. We sat down with Jose’s wife and took down all of the information necessary for the intake, all the while Jose’s children were unaware of the situation. Finally, the eldest came to the room to ask what was happening. Jose’s wife looked to us for support in informing the kids. Jennaya broke the news to the children.

I decided this was a good time to share my own experience as a formerly detained individual and offer them some insight and hope. I shared with them my experience being detained at the Adelanto Detention Center and what their father might face. The children burst into tears and so did their mother. It was one of the toughest moments that I have faced during my fellowship. I was reminded of what my family faced and how they may have reacted when I was arrested. It was truly heartbreaking to witness all of this, but—at the same time—I knew that I would be able to offer them some relief by explaining the process to them and offering them hope and guidance.

While Jennaya and I were there, the family received an odd call from Jose stating that he was coming home soon. We did not know what that meant. It is extremely rare for ICE to release folks right after they are processed. We waited a little while longer with the family to ensure that they were calm and also to see if there were any updates on Jose’s possible release. The time came when Jennaya and I had to leave to complete another intake, but we insisted the family call us as soon as they received any news. Sure enough, a few hours later, we received a call from Jose’s wife stating that he had been released by ICE and was home now. Jennaya and I were ecstatic and grateful, yet we could not believe that he had been released! We made an appointment to follow up with him the following day.

As it turns out, ICE officers questioned Jose regarding the company he was working for and he answered truthfully, so they released him. They released him with an ankle monitor and a pending court date, but the important part was that he was able to obtain his freedom. When we visited Jose the following day, he was still pretty shaken up. He broke down and cried as he explained the traumatic arrest and questioning by ICE. We tried to comfort him as much as possible. We went over the next steps in his immigration case and offered to refer him to legal services that would support his case. He was extremely thankful to have our support and congratulated us many times for the work we do. We have kept in touch with Jose and his family since his arrest and I am glad to say he is doing well.

The most important aspect of my work through the fellowship has been educating the Inland Empire community through our Know Your Rights workshops. Immigrant communities are continually criminalized and oppressed, so it is essential that folks know their rights and exercise them. I will admit that sometimes we come across very heavy cases to handle such as Jose’s, but there is also a lot to be grateful for, such as his release. Success stories are hard to come by but when they do, they offer me hope and motivation to continue fighting for immigrant rights.

If you would like to learn more about the rights of immigrants and resources available to them, please visit the following webpage: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/immigrants-rights/.