What the past can teach immigrant advocates of today

In paying my respects to those that came before me and their struggle due to their legal status, I share an excerpt of this 1995 LA Times article featuring the first undocumented student body President of California State University, Northridge, Vladimir Cerna (1996-1997), about his life and advocacy efforts to fight the Donald Trumps of his time.


Translation from German: “No one is Illegal” Photo credit: Nancy Landa


There is section of the article that caught my attention, when Vladimir recalls the judge’s statement during an immigration hearing where he and his family were granted legal status:

He [judge] said that when you take a young plant from the ground and put it in a pot, that plant can grow for years. The roots form. It expands. And it is unrealistic to expect that the plant can now be ripped from the pot and asked to adapt to the land it came from.*

If only policy-makers and society at large were able to understand the judge’s reasoning, migration policy would look very different today not only for undocumented youth that have grown up in a country that has legally excluded them, but also for their families who are only seeking a better life. Perhaps today there would exist more legal routes for people to immigrate instead of the escalation of restrictive immigration policies we have seen in the past two decades.

If only today’s generation of U.S. undocumented youth and immigrant advocates understood more about the history of the struggle for immigrant rights, the fight and narrative might be different, more inclusive of those that have been arbitrarily left out of current immigration policies including economic migrants, failed asylum-seekers and deportees. Maybe the past has the answer to what the future of the immigrant movement should look like and that is where we should start if we are to counteract the current migration “crisis” we are seeing around the globe, from Europe to the Unites States.

Let 2016 be the year we build more bridges instead of borders so that we create a world that honors humanity over hate and ignorance. A world where love and respect transcend the men-made walls that have separated us from “them”. Optimism and commitment to the good fight in times of crisis are only for the brave. Cheers!

*Click HERE for full article, “Life After 187 : CSUN Student Looks Past Controversy to Future”, Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1995.

Lions and Tigers and Activists, Oh My!

It has been a busy year and part of the reason for writing sporadically is because activism has become a priority in my life.

I wished I could have written more about my work in the past year, perhaps in the future I will, but in Mexico, we experienced “Momentum”[i] in our advocacy work this past year. To give you an idea, I briefly describe some of the projects that kept me busy in Mexico City since June 2014:

  • Education: I completed my Master’s program in Global Migration and although I did not attend my graduation in London, I received my diploma via mail a couple months ago. I hope to have made proud those that supported me on my campaign #DreamsWithtoutBorders which made it possible for me to pursue my dream of completing grad school. Unfortunately, as is the case for my U.S. Bachelor’s degree, this Master’s is not recognized in Mexico (read more below on education revalidation requirements).
UCL Diploma
UCL Diploma
  • Research in Interculturality and Transnational Advocacy: My newly completed “formal” training in migration studies jump started my career as an emerging scholar with “transborder experience” (wink, wink) and <i worked on two projects; the first one included a research project which resulted in my first institutional publication (Spanish) for the Mexico City government to analyze access and visibility of the population subject to rights through the Law of Interculturality passed in 2011. In the second project, I supported the planning and organization of a transnational conference that propelled transnational mobilization of youth migrant activists. Below is a link to the recorded “Talk Show” (Spanish) that reviewed the objectives and outcomes of our conference and a closer look at the stories of some of the 29 youth activists that participated.

Continue reading “Lions and Tigers and Activists, Oh My!”