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Immigration

Opinion: The End of DACA Could Mean Death for Immigrants Like Me

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By Edrees Saied, DACA recipient

As a foreign-born citizen, I am devastated with the Trump administration’s decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Over 800,000 young undocumented immigrants could be deported.

Through DACA, recipients were allowed to attend school and work legally in this country. They have worked hard, paid taxes, provided for their families and strengthened our communities. These are people who have or will develop the next life-changing idea for our society.

With the phasing out of DACA, young people will be forced to return to a country they may not even remember or know. Many DREAMers come from countries that have had their governments overthrown by terrorists and corrupt organizations. Trump could send many to countries flooded with poverty and death.

I was born in Sanaa, Yemen, so I know how scary it is to face the possibility of returning to a country that has nothing but chaos and instability waiting for you. While I am not a DACA recipient, I understand how DREAMers feel. My life would be significantly changed for the worst if I were forced to return there because it has an environment where dreams are thrown out the window by constant war and an unstable economy.

In the United States, I have been able to receive a quality education and take advantage of advanced technology and infrastructure which unfortunately is not available in my home county of Yemen.

Here, I am able to exercise my passions and goals and am surrounded by inspirations. I will also bring pride to my family by being the first to attend and complete college.

Aside from the fact that I cannot live up to my real potential in Yemen, we must brave the risk of actually being killed even if my family lives in a considerably safe area.

Although this may not be the case for everyone, corruption and violence are what I face in the wake of rescinding DACA, and this is the reality for hundreds of thousands of DREAMers.

Edrees Saied was born in Sanaa, Yemen. Saied currently attends Oakland Technical High School and plans to go to and finish college.

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Black History

The Way West: Reparations Task Force Looks at Black Migration to California

During its third meeting, California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans looked at reasons formerly enslaved Black people migrated to the Golden State — and detailed setbacks they faced after arriving. 

"Scott and Violet Arthur arrive with their family at Chicago's Polk Street Depot on Aug. 30, 1920, two months after their two sons were lynched in Paris, Texas. The picture has become an iconic symbol of the Great Migration. (Chicago History Museum)"[1]/ Wikimedia Commons

 I was leaving the South

to fling myself into the unknown…

I was taking a part of the South

to transplant in alien soil,

to see if it could grow differently,

if it could drink of new and cool rains,

bend in strange winds,

respond to the warmth of other suns

and, perhaps, to bloom.

- Richard Wright, the author of Black Boy, 1945

    During its third meeting, California’s Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans looked at reasons formerly enslaved Black people migrated to the Golden State — and detailed setbacks they faced after arriving. 

    During the period historians dub the “Great Migration”– which lasted from the early 1900s through the 1970s – approximately 6 million Black Americans relocated from Deep South states to Northern, Midwestern, Eastern and Western states. Significant numbers ended up in California, escaping Jim Crow laws and racial violence and seeking economic opportunity. 

     Isabel Wilkerson, author of “The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, “described the movement as “a redistribution of Black people.”  

    “It was the only time in America’s history that American citizens had to flee the land of their birth just to be recognized as the citizens that they had always been,” Wilkerson said, pointing out that no other group of Americans has been displaced under similar conditions.

     After President Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, the Reconstruction era began. It was a period of prosperity as some Blacks in different places began to establish businesses and communities; contest for (and win) political office; establish schools, and more. 

     But it was short-lived because of white backlash, Wilkerson said. 

     By the early 1900s, racist white Southerners began to terrorize freed Black people with cross burnings, and racial violence — and discriminate against them by instituting Jim Crow laws. 

     There was a spike in lynchings, and a sharecropping system that mirrored the conditions of slavery began to take form in the 11 former slaveholding states.

     Under those policies, opportunities for Blacks were almost nonexistent.

    After World War World I began in Europe in 1914, there was a shortage of labor. Factories started luring Black people North to fill vacancies. By 1919, an estimated 1 million Southern Blacks had departed for the North.

    By the 1930s, the Great Depression had slowed Black migration. But the revival of the exodus from the South, a period historians call the “Second Great Migration,” started around 1939. 

     This time around, California was a major destination. 

    As Black people left the South, Wilkerson said, they “followed three, beautifully predictable streams — pathways to freedom.” The first two led to Eastern and Midwestern states. The “West Coast stream,” Wilkerson told the task force, “carried people from Louisiana and Texas out to California and the entire West Coast.”

    World War II created an expansion of the country’s defense industry, according to the Southern California public television network,. During this time, more jobs were available to African Americans. California cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco and Oakland began to see an influx of Black people.

    According to KCET, a Southern California public television network, the Black population in Los Angeles grew from 63,700 in the 1940s to 763,000 in 1970. The migration was largely fueled by job openings in industries manufacturing automobiles, rubber, and steel. The presence of Blacks became evident along Central Avenue between 8th and 20th streets in California’s largest city.

     “(Black southerners) were recruited to the North and West to fill labor shortages in the steel mills, factories and shipyards,” Wilkerson said. “It turned out that they wanted the labor but did not want the people.”

    The response to the Great Migration was “structural barriers of exclusion,” Wilkerson said. Restrictive covenants required white property owners to agree not to sell to Black people and many areas in large and mid-range cities were redlined to deny services to Blacks. 

   “By law and by policies, parents, grandparents or great-grandparents of almost every African American alive today (were denied) the greatest source of wealth in this country: homeownership, the American Dream itself,” Wilkerson said.  

    “With all the testimony I’ve heard, I don’t see how any person of conscience, character and civility could not understand that the facts have been given,” said Task Force vice-chair, the Rev. Amos Brown, pastor of Third Baptist Church in San Francisco and president of that city’s NAACP branch. 

   The purpose of the nine-member task force is to study and develop reparation proposals for African Americans and recommend appropriate ways to educate the Californians about the task force’s findings.

    Sanctioned from 1619 to 1865, legalized slavery in the United States deprived more than 4 million Africans and their descendants of citizenship rights and economic opportunity. After it was abolished, government institutions at the federal, state, and local levels perpetuated, condoned, and often profited from practices that disadvantaged African Americans and excluded them from participation in society.

     “On those sugar, rice, and tobacco fields (in the deep south) were opera singers, jazz musicians, novelists, surgeons, attorneys, professors, accountants, and legislators,” Wilkerson said. “How do we know that? Because that is what they and their children, grandchildren and now great-grandchildren have often chosen to become.”

    Wilkerson first gained national attention in 1994, when she became the first Black woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing in 1994, while employed as Chicago Bureau Chief of The New York Times.

    Wilkerson’s parents are both from Southern states, but they stayed in Wash., D.C., where she was born, after meeting at Howard University. It was her parents’ migration northward, she says, that inspired her research on an era that helped to shape the country’s current demographics.  

     “Slavery has lasted so long that it will not be until next year, 2022, that the United States would have been a free and independent nation for as long as slavery lasted on this soil,” she said. 

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Education

Gov. Newsom Signs 46 Bills, Part of $123.9 Billion Education Plan 

During the final week before the October 10 deadline for signing bills passed by the state Legislature this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 46 bills supporting public school and college education.  Under his California Comeback Plan, the state budget invests more than ever before in public schools and colleges. 

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E-learning online education or internet encyclopedia concept. Open laptop and book compilation in a classroom. 3d illustration/ iStock

During the final week before the October 10 deadline for signing bills passed by the state Legislature this year, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed 46 bills supporting public school and college education.  Under his California Comeback Plan, the state budget invests more than ever before in public schools and colleges.

The full plan will cost $123.9 billion.

Newsom turned signing some of the bills into public events. On October 5, he was joined by members of the Legislature and local officials in Fresno for a bill-signing ceremony that celebrated the state’s master plan for early education. The next day, at California State University, Northridge, he led a celebration of the master plan for higher education as he signed a number of bills.

At Sunset elementary school in Fresno, Newsom highlighted the California Comeback Plan’s Pre-K and K-12 education package that includes a framework to achieve universal transitional kindergarten by 2025. The plan reduces class sizes, cutting adult-to-child ratios down from 1 adult for every 24 children to an average of 1 adult for every 12 children.

The plan also invests $1.9 billion to seed college savings accounts beginning in first grade of up to $1,500 for 3.7 million current low-income students, English learners and foster and homeless youth.

“In California, we are committed to transforming our public schools to promote equity, inclusivity and opportunity for every student,” Newsom said before the bill signing commenced.

Among the officials joining Newsom at the Fresno elementary school were Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento), chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance.

“We know from research and from experience that the early years are critical to support a child’s learning and development. Universal Pre-K is California’s opportunity to ensure every child, regardless of background, race, zip code, immigration status or income level, gets the fair start they need and deserve on their path to success,” said Thurmond.

“I’m here to claim that this governor is the best governor in the history of California for early education,” McCarty told a crowded school library of spectators. “We are launching the largest Pre-K for all program through universal transitional kindergarten in the nation. Thank you, Governor Newsom for your unwavering commitment to our youngest learners.”

At Cal State Northridge, the bills that Newsom signed are designed to increase access to higher education for in-state students who would like to attend a school in the California State University (CSU) or University of California (UC) system, create more affordable student housing, particularly for those attending community college, and expand financial aid.

Standing in a gym in front of students, cheerleaders, administrators and state officials, Newsom highlighted his higher education funding plan. According to him, it is the most funding for higher education in California history. The budget has a total funding of $47.1 billion for all higher education entities in 2021-22.

“Californians have thrived at our world class universities for decades, but not everyone has had similar access – today that’s changing. Everyone deserves a shot at the ‘California Dream’ – we’re eliminating equity gaps and increasing opportunities at our universities to make those dreams a reality for more California students,” Newsom said.

McCarty, who was with the governor the day before in Fresno said, “I do want to say that this year was the best year in the history of California, investing in higher education, our UC and CSU and community college system. So, with our governor’s leadership and the Legislature, we were able to pass a budget that fully funds the CSU budget request.” 

He went on to say to applause, “You know what, we’re going to fund an additional 9,000 slots for your little sisters and brothers and cousins to go to CSU.”

On October 8, Newsom completed his education bill signing marathon by signing 22 more bills providing K-12 student mental and behavioral health supports in schools, expanding access to broadband across the state — particularly for those in underserved communities — and providing educational support for students to help boost academic achievement.

Among the bills Newsom signed was AB 101, which was introduced by Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside). It requires school districts and charter schools serving students in grades 9-12 to offer at least a one semester course in ethnic studies, beginning with the 2025-26 school year. It also requires students, beginning with the graduating class of 2029-30, to complete a one semester course in ethnic studies that meets specified requirements in order to receive a high school diploma.

In his signing statement, Newsom wrote, “Ethnic studies courses enable students to learn their own stories, and those of their classmates, and a number of studies have shown that these courses boost student achievement over the long run – especially among students of color.”

While ethnic studies is already being offered in many large school districts like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno and San Diego Unified, the subject has attracted controversy statewide. The Los Angeles Times opposes the bill, citing that it allows school districts too much flexibility to design their own curricula in conflict with the state’s approved model curriculum. 

Newsom noted in his signing statement, “The legislation provides a number of guardrails to ensure that courses will be free from bias or bigotry and appropriate for all students.”

“At a time when some states are retreating from an accurate discussion of our history, I am proud that California continues to lead in its teaching of ethnic studies,” said Secretary of State Shirley Weber who authored AB 1460, which Newsom signed last year creating an ethnic studies requirement for all CSU colleges for graduation.

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Activism

A Season Where Hispanic, Asian and A Little Black History Converge

We all have some Hispanic heritage in California, whether we own it or not. The style, the language, the names of our cities and streets. All an homage to our link to Spain. 

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September 15 - October 15, National Hispanic Heritage Month - handwriting in Huun paper handmade in Mexico, reminder of cultural event/ iStock

And so here we are in the middle of Hispanic Heritage Month which began on September 15 and continues on through October 15. It’s a strange straddle over two months, but what do you expect from an imperial culture that went in and dominated lands and people? 

We’re not just talking about being born “Hispanic” in that positive, “let’s go out and have some flautas and margaritas” kind of way.

There’s that nagging negative side, too.

We all have some Hispanic heritage in California, whether we own it or not. The style, the language, the names of our cities and streets. All an homage to our link to Spain. 

But as an Asian American Filipino, born here in California, the link to Spain goes back more than 500 years when the Spanish conquered the Philippines. 

My Hispanic heritage?  As a colony of Spain, the Philippines got the full imperial treatment. My name? Spanish. My food? All sorts of Spanish influences. My beliefs? Spanish and Catholic to the core. 

The Spanish colonization gave way to the American colonization, which started after the Spanish American War ended and the Philippines was sold to the U.S. for $20 million. 

I like to say that’s slightly less than Draymond Green makes for the Warriors.

The colonization process continued as the U.S. taught English to the Philippines, and then brought Filipinos like my dad to California in the 1920s and 1930s to work the fields. 

Born under the American flag as a colonized Filipino, my dad was allowed to enter the U.S. as an “American national.” No papers necessary. But he wasn’t a citizen. Nor a slave. He was a colonized ward of the state. About 30,000 of them, mostly men, came to California to be a labor force, working the fields for ten cents an hour.  

They also found out just how unwelcome they were. They couldn’t vote, own land, and they couldn’t intermarry. There were anti-miscegenation laws that prevented the mixing of races. 

If a Filipino was caught with a white woman, he was shot, killed, and even lynched.

Filipinos? Like Blacks? Yep. 

My father chose to stay in the Bay Area to work in restaurants. He lived in the Fillmore.  Most of his Filipino townmates went to work migrant agricultural jobs up and down the Central Valley. That was their life for decades.

Grape Strike: The Filipino-Mexican Merger

In Delano, north of Fresno, Larry Itliong led the Filipino agricultural workers in a strike against the table grape growers on Sept. 7, 1965. They wanted $1.45 per hour.

But the Filipinos were mostly elderly in their 50s and 60s. They realized they needed to join in coalition with Cesar Chavez who ran a community organization for Mexicans at the time. Chavez wasn’t a unionist. He didn’t want to strike. 

Five years ago, on the 50th anniversary of The Great Delano Grape Strike, I talked to Gil Padilla, a co-founder with Chavez of the National Farm Workers Association. He told me Chavez was persuaded by Itliong.

“He was the one who made the negotiations,” Chavez had said. “Larry was the one who made sure we became a family and we merged.”

The 1965 merger of the Filipinos and the Mexican workers in solidarity in the United Farm Worker strike against the grape growers also symbolized the merger of the labor movement and the Civil Rights Movement. 

That’s what I think about when I think Hispanic Heritage Month, which overlapscFilipino History Month which starts on October 1. 

There’s some complicated history intertwined, both positive and negative, with a lot more diversity than you think. 

Emil Guillermo is a journalist and commentator. He vlogs at www.amok.com 

Facebook: emilguillermo.media ;  Twitter@emilamok

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