BY ALEJANDRO MEZA AGUILAR
Photos courtesy of Alejandro Meza Aguilar
College of the Desert and Desert Mirage High School students visited Sacramento on May 7 to lobby for the modernization of the California Dream Act and the prevention of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids at work and schools.
The students went as representatives from the Youth Organizing Council of Coachella Valley Building Healthy Communities. The goal was to focus on two pieces of new legislation that have not been voted on by an assembly member and a senator.
The student group went for three days to learn how to reach out to their representatives and speak to them about the bills in an organized and composed fashion. The reason for supporting these bills as stated in the Free Our Dreams participant orientation packet is to ensure sanctuary for all, justice reinvestment and transformative justice and educational, economic and health justice.
The Coachella Valley students focused mainly on the immigration reform laws to ensure security for everyone. There was reportedly a prior experience at Desert Mirage High School. Student Juliana Taboada said, “The superintendent of the school called ICE for a PTA meeting to keep the parents silent of anything on the school. That’s not right.” The bills that the group focused on were Assembly Bill 699, Assembly Bill 450 and Senate Bill 68.
AB 699 prevents ICE from raiding schools and educational institutions, AB 450 prevents the raids on immigrant workers while they work and SB 68 is another modification into the California Dream Act. The bills are created to keep the protections of sanctions to immigrant students and immigrant workers.
The group was designated to speak to Senator Jeff Stone, serving the 28th District Assemby about the bills. When he was approached on SB 68 he was very supportive. Although he was somewhat skeptical for the AB 699, when he heard about the situation at Desert Mirage High School he was concerned.
Senator Stone wanted to know if the local district superintendent called ICE to prevent criminal activity in school. The students who attended said, “No, it was just a regular PTA meeting on school matters.” Stone had come to agree on voting on the bills after having a discussion with students.
The Free Our Dreams organization had also formed a protest towards the current administration and the effects that have been set on immigrant students, LGBT people, the Muslim community, people of color and women. Taboada was one of the most vocal students in the group, “I feel that rallying and lobbying is necessary for people to learn about the needs facing immigrant students.”