UCLA Labor Center

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/.

 

Meet Dream Summer 2019 Graduate, Armando Delgado Jr.

We are ecstatic to announce that the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s Dream Summer 2019 fellows will be graduating this Sunday, August 18th! The fellows engaged in critical work, throughout the fellowship, to ensure that social justice continues to be a strong force within the United States. Each fellow performed a critical role to advance the work of the host organization they were placed with and to sustain the immigrant rights and labor movement. The graduation will celebrate the leadership, dedication, resilience, and growth exhibited by each one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellows. 

Meet Armando Delgado Jr., one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellowship graduates!

Placed at United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) for Dream Summer 2019.

Biography

Armando Delgado Jr. comes from a single-parent household. His mother and three sisters have been a great support system throughout his life, such as by helping him accomplish his educational goals. Armando graduated with a B.S. in Physiology and Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego. Having worked in the education field for three years at the Boys & Girls Club of the West Valley, he has successfully served as a mentor to students and helped students gain access to post-secondary educational opportunities. 

Although Armando enjoys working in the education field, in the future he hopes to utilize his skills to increase inclusion and accessibility for individuals with disabilities in the technology and healthcare fields. Having a disability himself, Armando understands how challenging it is for people with disabilities to navigate and find support in a socially and politically turbulent world. He also understands the difficulty of seeking aid in a society that implicitly or unconsciously discriminates against and secludes people with disabilities. He hopes to challenge these societal norms through his work. With this goal in mind, Armando will pursue a Ph.D. in public policy or human-centered design and engineering to examine how technology mediates communication and interactions with disabled populations.

Armando presenting during a power analysis activity at the Dream Summer 2019 kick-off.

We asked Armando: What was your experience with the fellowship like?

“My participation in the Dream Summer fellowship has been a pleasant and positive experience. It has provided me with the opportunity to learn how immigrants and allies organize, at a national and local level, to advocate for immigrant rights. The fellowship has also shown me how to raise awareness and increase advocacy for immigrant rights by building a strong community of supporters. 

I also learned how to effectively work at an organization that specializes in increasing community action for a specific social justice issue. The workshops that were presented to us, during the Dream Summer kick-off, gave me a huge eye opener to the wide range of fields in social justice, such as community outreach and field organizing. Through the workshops, I learned that in order to dismantle economic, political, and social barriers we must first understand the problems in our communities and how these problems affect individuals daily.”

Armando discussing some of the topics that will be spoken at UTLA’s Leadership Conference.

We asked Armando: How has the fellowship helped you grow?

“The fellowship has helped me grow into an individual who is more vocal. Through my host organization, United Teachers of Los Angeles, I learned how important it is to use your voice effectively⏤to create impact and change⏤when organizing for a social justice issue. It is important for one to express their opinions and fight for what is necessary.

The fellowship also gave me insight into how grassroots organizations and unions utilize social media platforms to conduct community outreach. I learned that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be utilized as powerful tools to challenge authority and unite individuals under a common ground. The fellowship also taught me how to summarize large heaps of data and translate that data into infographics for a target audience to easily understand. People must easily understand a problem or issue in order for solutions to be implemented.”

Learn more about Dream Summer here.

 

Meet Dream Summer 2019 Graduate, Bezawit Tenna

We are ecstatic to announce that the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s Dream Summer 2019 fellows will be graduating this Sunday, August 18th! The fellows engaged in critical work, throughout the fellowship, to ensure that social justice continues to be a strong force within the United States. Each fellow performed a critical role to advance the work of the host organization they were placed with and to sustain the immigrant rights and labor movement. The graduation will celebrate the leadership, dedication, resilience, and growth exhibited by each one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellows. 

Meet Bezawit Tenna, one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellowship graduates!

Placed at the National Education Association for Dream Summer 2019.

Biography

Bezawit Tenna lives in Maryland and is currently a fourth year student at Towson University studying Political Science with a minor in Business Administration. Bezawit moved to the U.S from Ethiopia, with her family, on a hot summer day in 2006. At the young age of eight and with no prior knowledge of English, she was ready to embark on a journey that would change her life forever. Navigating through elementary school⏤without knowing how to speak English⏤posed many challenges for her social and academic life. However, given her sociable personality and with the help of her English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers, the language barrier only became a temporary dilemma.

Although school life was not very difficult for her, moving through the system as Black Immigrants was a challenge for her family. She noticed the lack of resources her parents had, from finding employment to help regarding legal work and assimilation. Inspired by the hardships her and her family faced, she made it her goal to alleviate some of the stress immigrant families face. She volunteered at various centers that provide resources to immigrants such as CASA de Maryland and the Ethiopian Community Center.

Upon graduating in Spring 2020, she hopes to work at an organization that helps marginalized groups⏤like immigrants⏤embrace every opportunity, notice their innate value, and see all things as possible. Through personal and educational experience, she understands the significance of current issues facing the U.S. immigration system. Due to this experience, she is interested in gaining first hand knowledge in key policy and international relations issues regarding immigration and human rights.

Bezawit preparing for an NEA CAPE meeting in LA.

We asked Bezawit: What was your experience with the fellowship like?

“For the Dream Summer fellowship, I was placed under the NEA Center for Social Justice (CSJ) and specifically under the Community Advocacy and Partnership Engagement (CAPE) department. Prior to the fellowship, the National Education Association (NEA) was only an organization that came up while talking about the educator Code of Ethics during a discussion in my education elective classes. I was never aware of the depth of the organization and the significant role it plays within the social justice movement.

At NEA CSJ, I was responsible for ensuring that minorities, particularly immigrants, are represented in the public school system as well as given the resources and support to achieve all of their goals. I researched different ways that immigrant students can organize to put on various events, such as Know Your Rights workshops and Citizenship Drives. Overall, through this fellowship, I was able to contribute to the fight for a more diverse classroom (teachers, administrators, and staff) that meets the demographics of our diverse student population. This is an essential part of the American public school system because representation is a crucial aspect of success for young and impressionable students.”

Bezawit meeting with NEA Senior Policy Analyst, Stephanie Luongo, regarding a research project on ethinc studies in public schools in the U.S.

We asked Bezawit: How has the fellowship helped you grow?

“The Dream Summer fellowship and NEA strengthened my skills, as well as helped me develop new skills. Throughout the fellowship, I mainly engaged in researching issues around immigration within the public school system. Through conducting research, I learned how to think complexly and how to present information in an effective and efficient manner. Communicating research data about immigration issues can be difficult because it is a multiplex issue.

The fellowship also helped me develop networking skills because I was encouraged to engage with staff by scheduling interview meetings with them. I was able to schedule a couple of interviews with staff working in human resources, communications, and advocacy. The interviews helped me understand that social justice work can be done both internally and externally. Prior to this fellowship, I would never have thought about asking someone to engage in a sitdown conversation regarding their work. This allowed me to recognize that networking is more than exchanging business cards and email addresses.” 

Learn more about Dream Summer here.

 

Meet Dream Summer 2019 Graduate, Abigail Gonzalez

We are ecstatic to announce that the UCLA Dream Resource Center’s Dream Summer 2019 fellows will be graduating this Sunday, August 18th! The fellows engaged in critical work, throughout the fellowship, to ensure that social justice continues to be a strong force within the United States. Each fellow performed a critical role to advance the work of the host organization they were placed with and to sustain the immigrant rights and labor movement. The graduation will celebrate the leadership, dedication, resilience, and growth exhibited by each one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellows. 

Meet Abigail Gonzalez, one of the Dream Summer 2019 fellowship graduates!

Placed at Equality California for Dream Summer 2019.

Biography:

Abigail Gonzalez was born on December 6th,1999 in La Barca, Jalisco, Mexico. When Abigail was just a six-month-old baby, her family immigrated to the United States for a better life and future. After moving to the U.S., Abigail grew up in the small neighborhood known as Boyle Heights located in Los Angeles, California. She attended First Street Elementary School, Hollenbeck Middle School, and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 2018. Throughout high school, Abigail was very active within her school and local community. She was class president for three years, was a four-year varsity softball player, was a member of the Mayor’s Youth Council, and a College Track scholar. 

Abigail is currently attending Pasadena City College (PCC) and will be transferring this fall to Pomona College, where she plans to pursue a degree in public policy. After graduating, Abigail hopes to work at a nonprofit organization that provides all immigrants⏤regardless of their immigration status⏤with educational opportunities, legal assistance, and mental health resources. Abigail’s career goal is tied to her personal life experience. Abigail comes from a mixed-status immigrant family, so she wants to empower her community and create positive social change because she is highly aware of the struggles immigrant families face. In particular, she understands how an individual’s immigration status can highly impact the type of opportunities available to them.   

In February of 2018, Abigail and her family were featured in NPR’s podcast Code Switch to discuss what living in a mixed-status immigrant household is like. Abigail’s mixed-status household includes her younger brother who is a U.S. citizen and her two older sisters who are both recipients of the program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). DACA provides eligible immigrant youth⏤who were brought to the U.S. as children without proper documentation⏤temporary relief from deportation and a work permit. Unlike her brother and sisters, Abigail is neither a U.S. citizen or eligible for DACA. She is currently undocumented because the program is no longer accepting new applicants, since President Trump rescinded the program. Abigail’s older sister, Miriam Gonzalez, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit suing the Trump administration for its decision to rescind DACA.

Abigail at the Census 2020 press conference, held by Los Angeles County Supervisor representative Hilda Solis, that addressed the potential inclusion of a citizenship question on the U.S. Census.

We asked Abigail: What was your experience with the fellowship like?

“As a Dream Summer fellow, I was assigned to work with Equality California (EQCA), the nation’s largest statewide LGBTQ civil rights organization. EQCA works on improving the lives of California’s LGBTQ community through grassroots organizing and political advocacy. This summer, I had the pleasure to work with EQCA’s 2020 Census outreach team. I was in charge of the outreach to college campuses in the Los Angeles County. Our goal was to engage LGBTQ and immigrant youth with the U.S. 2020 Census. Outreach was challenging because it is summer and many campuses do not have a lot of students present, but I was able to connect with five campuses that will allow EQCA to host tabling events for census outreach. These tabling events include talking to students about the importance of the 2020 Census and getting them to pledge to fill it out.

I also attended two press conferences, with EQCA, about the 2020 Census. The first press conference brought local leaders and community members together, right after the Supreme Court’s decision on the potential inclusion of a citizenship question in the 2020 Census. The second press conference was hosted by Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer in order to inform his district about the census work he is supporting. These two press conferences were significant because they were the first I had ever attended. They taught me about the work that other community organizations are doing regarding the U.S. Census.”

Abigail with Dream Summer Project Coordinator, Leticia Bustamante, at the 2020 Census press conference in Los Angeles. 

We asked Abigail: How has the fellowship helped you grow?

“If I am being completely honest, I never thought I would be able to have an opportunity like this because I am not eligible for DACA. Therefore, this fellowship has been nothing but a huge learning experience for me. It is the first fellowship that has allowed me to learn skills necessary for a job. This fellowship was a lot of firsts for me. It was my first time being in an office and professional setting. I never thought I would be able to experience this, at such a young age, because opportunities like these are rare to find when you are undocumented⏤and even more so when you do not have DACA. 

Overall, I have grown a lot professionally. Throughout the fellowship, I wrote professional emails, made professional phone calls, and attended staff meetings. These experiences helped develop my professional skills such as time management, organization, problem-solving, communication, and more. These are skills that one cannot develop and improve, if one is not in a professional setting. 

This fellowship was also great for networking. I met a lot of cool people who are doing great work! They have provided me with both professional and life advice. I have grown so much⏤both personally and professionally⏤in just a couple of weeks because of this fellowship.”    

Learn more about Dream Summer here.