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Growing up with an immigrant family is the driving force of everything I do today. I have seen the struggles they have faced as well as how hard they have worked to give me everything they possibly could. It’s motivating to know that above all, NJAIJ fights for families like mine.
My favorite memory at NJAIJ has to be the entirety of Advocacy Academy. We had been planning for it so much that actually being in it was a bit surreal. It was really fun to connect with everyone, but also very necessary to have the discussions and panels we did. I’m still so proud of all of us and I can’t wait for the next one.
One of my favorite movies of all time is Bong Joon-ho's Parasite (2019). It’s a drama, horror/thriller, and comedy (yes all of those) about social inequality and wealth disparity, what's not to love?!
Like many other children of immigrants, I've spent my whole life being an advocate. From an early age, immigrants' kids are often the primary translator, the cultural broker, and the first generation to experience and navigate American systems. Fighting for visibility, fair representation, and justice is something we've grown up doing and I am proud to continue that work today in my role at NJAIJ.
One of our members used to be very nervous speaking in front of legislators. Over the years, I watched as she attended NJAIJ trainings, workshops, and use the toolkits on our Resource Hub in her work. Nearly two years later, we were on a trip to Washington DC to fight for citizenship for all. We were chatting outside an office building when she suddenly bolted down the street and grabbed Senator Durbin by the arm as he was walking by. She started grilling him citizenship for all. It was such a beautiful moment, witnessing her journey from once feeling "too nervous" to then running after a senior US Senator so that she could fight for her community.
Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth. It's a timeless read. Decolonizing ourselves and empowering our communities go hand in hand.
For me, immigrant justice means the humane treatment of all immigrants across all borders, but unfortunately, immigrants and migrants all over the world face oppressive and violent systems. The root causes of migration include imperialism, colonization, violence, persecution, natural disasters, and capitalism and economic globalization that impose poverty and displacement, too often due to policy decisions being made in other countries. To reach true justice, we must recognize and push back against global policies that force people to move. Immigrant justice is about treating communities with dignity and respect, allowing immigrants to thrive and creating safe spaces.
My favorite advocacy memory was when I attended a rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., with my partner and sisters regarding the legality of the DACA program. Seeing so many community members come out in support of DACAmented youth was beautiful. As an immigrant from Oaxaca, Mexico, and a beneficiary of DACA, I felt empowered and supported by other impacted individuals all across the country.
I have a couple of favorite movies but I’d have to go with Shrek. I enjoy watching all types of movies, so let me know if you have any recommendations!
As a child of refugees, I have experienced firsthand the necessity for culturally sensitive, trauma-informed policies and protected community spaces. My commitment to immigrant justice is rooted in my desire to co-create a world where immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees like my parents can be their fullest selves and live or dream as imaginatively and freely as they desire.
In my first few months with the NJAIJ team, we hosted a multilingual town hall with NJAIJ community members on the Values Act. Being able to witness true language access in practice and hear such intense commitment to liberation from incarceration and detention left me more convinced than ever that our immigrant communities will win.
“Be Not Afraid of Love” by Mimi Zhu has spoken to me more than any other piece of literature I’ve read in recent years. The book is an invitation to be more loving towards ourselves, our people, and communities that have been systematically denied access to healing. The writing is calming, reflective, and a reminder that personal and political change must come from a source of radical love.
As the child of immigrants, immigrant justice to me is rooted in the belief that all individuals deserve the right to safety, freedom, and respect, no matter what. It's empowering to know that at the Alliance, I have the privilege to stand in solidarity with communities like mine and fight for protections for ALL New Jerseyans.
My favorite NJAIJ memories come from conducting our Member Spotlights each month. It gives me the opportunity to meet so many of our amazing members, learn their stories, and what draws them to immigrant justice. I've had the opportunity to speak to so many role models along the way and understand the aspects of social justice from different points of view each time.
My favorite book to date is "East of Eden" by John Steinbeck. It's a classic novel that taught me about the ways that love can show itself in different familial dynamics, and it's one of the most poetic books I've ever read.
Being in community and in relationship with immigrant folk grounds me in the fight for immigrant justice. I want the very best for the people I love and the people in my community, and that means ensuring that there are policies that protect and empower immigrants.
My favorite NJAIJ memory was recruiting artists to make posters for our 2022 Immigrant Heritage Month rally. It was a lovely experience getting to work with artists that have beautiful creative visions.
My favorite book is Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson and Dominicana by Angie Cruz