‘Know Your Rights’ Workshop aims for cultural change surrounding immigration

first_imgMiriam Mesa, a director from the Coalition for Humane Immigration Rights LA, led the workshop. (Joesph Su | Daily Trojan)Victor Cruz believes there’s a pressing need for education and visibility surrounding immigrant rights on campus. To present these topics, Cruz, who is pursuing a graduate degree in public administration and serves as the programming chair of the Price Latino Student Association, helped organize a “Know Your Rights” workshop Thursday. The event — in partnership with the Latino Law Student Association and the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights — aimed to educate students on what to do when confronted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.“[This is] just bringing knowledge that people have sacrificed in the past in order to ensure that we … are bringing visibility to [our] rights and preparing us to put [them] into action,” Cruz said. “Because it’s one thing to know you have a right, but it’s another thing to exercise it.”Miriam Mesa, a director from CHIRLA, conducted the workshop and focused on rights awareness, specifically regarding confrontations with immigration authorities.“I’ve seen a lot of pain a lot of hurt in families, and it’s really heartbreaking,” Mesa said. “Our idea [at CHIRLA] is to empower the community and to fight for themselves. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, no one else will do it.”Mesa advised attendees to coordinate with law enforcement in situations like protests.“When you organize a march or protest, you have to go through the proper channels, get the permits and once you do that you have less chances of getting detained,” Mesa said. “[In California], local law enforcement cannot use funding and share information with the Department of Homeland Security.”Mesa also presented tips to the students, including what to do when ICE shows up at their homes or workplaces. “[People] have the right to not open the door and [can] ask the officers to slide documents from underneath the door,” Mesa said. “They cannot force the door, break it down, kick your door. But if you open the door, then that’s an invitation. You have the right to remain silent.”Cruz said he helped plan this event because he thinks USC should be more proactive in understanding its community.“It’s really important to realize that this power dynamic, that is authority does not just play out politically, but there are so many different ramifications that come from this,” Cruz said. “How does it affect somebody’s mental health, how does it affect someone’s visibility or incorporation in the community? How does someone affect their civic engagement?”The PLSA hopes events like these will lead to systemic changes at USC.“We’re trying to create programs that do not leave this outgoing class with the intention that the university and administration will catch on,” Cruz said.The workshop was open to everyone, but specifically geared toward Latinx immigrants and their allies.“I really want allies to feel welcome and to recognize the struggles that our communities have,” Cruz said. “Acting in solidarity with our communities is really advocating for our wellbeing, and leveraging the privilege that they have … they can probably help excel, push forward, faster than we can.”Alina Borja, a student pursuing a graduate degree in planning who attended and helped plan the event, said events like these are crucial. She said she believes that there are more people on campus who have ties to the undocumented community than may be assumed. “I think it’s important for everyone to know this kind of information,” Borja said. “It was especially helpful for me because I do come from a mixed status family and I would like to know everything I can learn to protect my family and hopefully get them on a path to citizenship.”last_img

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