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Immigration organizations looking to increase activity in San Gabriel Valley *UPDATED

*Translation into Chinese was done by public contributor Ivan Ho. If anyone would like to translate this story into Spanish, or any story into Spanish or Chinese, please contact [email protected] (Originally posted 4.7.11).

The San Gabriel Valley was identified as an area in need of greater attention from immigrant advocacy organizations at a conference Tuesday on immigration integration and policy. (English version below).


面對前景暗淡的全國性改革破碎移民制度和新的限制各州政府的法律,數百名的倡導者,學者和政府代表—包括市長Villaraigoisa — 在南加州大學召開會議。會議反復出現的主題是,需要地方一級的活動來鋪設改變聯邦政策的道路。而且,取得任何進展的基石是創造和維持不同的聯盟關係。

Manuel Pastor教授,南加大的移民整合研究中心主任(USC's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration)和會議的組織者,注意到了一些組織正在擴展其在聖蓋博谷和聖費爾南多谷的工作。該地區不是傳統上的倡導者,也沒有大的倡導組織,因為他們是在洛杉磯市。這種轉變的主要原因,據 Angelica Salas(Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles)主任說,本州有可能獲選民資格的移民人口的大多數聚居於山谷地區。“如果我們有針對性地工作,我們將可以扭轉乾坤”。 Salas說: 心存同樣的目標,亞太裔法律中心(Asian Pacific American Legal Center)最近也舉行了聖蓋博谷的倡導公民入籍活動。

另一個山谷地區被重視的原因是,那裡的官員對移民議程的支持程度沒有達到倡導者們希望看到的水平。 Salas說“我們有的官員有對抗性的,或沒有達到我們的議程的深度的足夠行動”。

相比奧巴馬總統推行移民改革方案總體上的挫敗,強調用地方行動來推進, 甚至來自白宮的代表也說,“聯邦推行運動停滯不前的可能性,讓地方在未來的幾年成為重點。從第一天起我們一直在試圖在壞的現有系統中運作,我們有一個破碎的系統”,白宮國內政策委員會的Felicia說,“在聯邦政府內這是一個緩慢而艱難的過程” 。

為了使地方一級改變的發生和建立統一的平台,許多倡導者們主張有必要建立跨種族聯盟。 “我們把所有在洛杉磯移民團體請來,探討什麼是最有效的。他們說是我們的繼續聯絡,我們有個別的對話,但我們不去與每個人對話”。Antonia Hernandez(California Community Foundation)美國加州社區基金會會長說, “移民是一個地方性問題,我們在本地工作,這樣他們就可以看到他們共同的經濟利益,然後,也許華盛頓將傾聽。”

去建立廣泛的連線橋樑,也有人預測洛杉磯是促進移民的一個理想城市,這不只是一個拉丁裔的問題。 Pasteur說,與大眾的認知相反,洛杉磯的新移民少於三分之一是墨西哥裔。韓國資源中心的成員(Korean Resource Center)EunSook Lee指出,第一次亞裔美國人被問及他們在運動中的角色是2006年的遊行後,當時,一個問題被多次問到:亞洲人是不是非法移民。她說10%,以及五分之一的韓國人。

“我們對移民的看法大部分是有深刻的不適應性,美國人與這個國家的人口結構變化了”,EunSook Lee說,這個問題,她強調,不只是拉丁裔或亞裔,但總體在轉變。 “這真的很重要,看看我們如何能夠建立溝通的橋樑和聯盟。”

從白宮來的Escobar強調,如果這些橋樑都建在地方一級,最終聯邦方面將做好準備。 “我們將得到全面的改革。我對政治領導人有信心,包括他們展示勇氣的能力”,Escobar說。 “我認為我們可以再次到達那裡,這是民主進程的事情,在這個房間的民眾”。

Facing bleak prospects for national reform of the broken immigration system and new restrictive state laws, hundreds of advocates, academics and government representatives — including Mayor Villaraigoisa — convened at USC. The recurring theme was that activity on the local level is needed to pave the way for federal change, and that creating and maintaining diverse alliances is fundamental to any progress.

Professor Manuel Pastor, director of USC's Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration and organizer of the conference, noted some organizations are expanding work in the San Gabriel Valley and San Fernando Valley. The area is not traditionally known for advocacy nor home to the large advocacy organizations which are concentrated in LA. A key reason for the shift in focus, said the director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, Angelica Salas, is that the majority of the state's immigrant population who could be eligible voters and are not are located in the valleys. “If we targeted our work we could make a huge difference,” Salas said. With the same goal in mind, the Asian Pacific American Legal Center also recently held a citizenship drive in the San Gabriel Valley.

Another reason the valleys were idenitified, is that were areas where the leadership had not provided the support to immigrant agendas that advocates would like to see. “These are the same areas where we had leaders that were adversarial or had not moved enough on our agenda,” Salas said. 

The emphasis on local action contrasted to an overall frustration with President Obama’s failure to enact immigration reform, and even a representative from the White House said that with the chance of federal movement stalled for the coming years the local arena was the place to focus.  “Since day one we’ve been trying to work with the bad system that we have, the broken system that we have,” Felicia Escobar, White House Domestic Policy Council, said.  “It’s a slow and difficult process within the federal government."

In order to make change happen on the local level and promote a unified platform, many advocates emphasized the need to create cross-ethnic alliances. “We brought all the immigrant groups in LA and we asked what would be the most useful and they said continue to connect us. We talk to one another, but we don’t talk to each other,” Antonia Hernandez, president of the California Community Foundation, said. “Immigration is a local issue. Work it locally, so they can see their common economic interest. And then, maybe, Washington will listen.”

Along the lines of creating broad bridges, there was also the perspective that Los Angeles is an ideal city to promote the idea that immigration is not just a Latino issue. Pasteur said that contrary to popular belief, less than a third of new immigrants to Los Angeles are Mexican. EunSook Lee, a member of the Korean Resource Center, noted that the first time that Asian-Americans were asked about their role in the movement was after the 2006 marches. At the time, the question was repeatedly about whether Asians are undocumented. She said that 10% are as well as one in five Koreans.

“The way we see immigration is it’s very much about the profound discomforts that Americans have with the changing demographics of this country,” Lee said. The issue, she emphasized, is not just about Latinos or Asians, but overall shifts. “It’s really important to see how we can build bridges and alliances.” 

Escobar, from the White House, emphasized that if those bridges are built on a local level, eventually the federal side will be ready. “We will get to comprehensive reform. I have faith in political leaders and the ability to be courageous,” Escobar said. “ I think we can get there again, and this is what the democratic process is about, the people in this room."

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2 thoughts on “Immigration organizations looking to increase activity in San Gabriel Valley *UPDATED”

  1. Thanks Ivan! Could you also send us the Chinese version? I’d like to post it here.

  2. Good information.
    I am translating this Article into Chinese and forwarding it to ChinaPress reporter:
    [email protected]