Ivone Guillen is Sojourners' Immigration Associate. A native of Washington State, where she lived and worked amongst immigrant communities. Ivone graduated from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash., in 2009 with a degree in International Studies and Spanish. After college, she worked with Tierra Vida (Land of Life) as program coordinator for C.A.S.A. and was a immigration policy fellow at Bread For The World before joining Sojourners in September.
Ivone looks forward to opportunities that continue enriching her personal and professional development as well as looks for ways in which she can continue impacting lives through the work that she does.
As she tries to be optimistic most of the time, she believes that life is an open journey and it's up to each individual to decide how much of an impact they want to leave behind.
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My DACA Story
Introduction from Lisa Sharon Harper: Every once in a great while you meet someone who carries in their very body the scars of injustice that we talk about so much at Sojourners. These scars leave permanent reminders of the profound need for every follower of Jesus to follow him in word and deed. It is my great pleasure to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Ivone Guillen. As Sojourners’ Immigration Campaigns and Communications Associate, Ivone has worked tirelessly for the passage of just immigration reform for two years. As a formerly undocumented immigrant, she bears the scars of our unjust immigration system and has experienced the healing that came from changes in immigration policy last year. Please read Ivone’s story. It reflects the stories of millions of people in church pews across the country; people made in the image of God, people waiting for that image to be fully recognized and set free inside our borders.
I remember clearly the day I heard the announcement on deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) as I felt an overwhelming surge of emotions in that one moment. A path to opportunity, however fragile and short-term, had finally been created for undocumented young people wanting to become full members of American society.
As I sat on the sofa on the morning of June 15 in front of the television and next to my computer, I felt anxious, excited, and dazed at the same time. There I was, listening to one of the biggest announcements ever made in my lifetime, and it directly impacted me. It was a surreal moment since I had been working with the advocacy community for almost two years and had seen difficult developments take place at the state level on the issue. Then and there, I felt that all of my work was paying off and that change could be achieved with enough persistence and pressure. It was a moment that most people wish to live and see, especially those who have worked in the movement for decades but seldom experience the ultimate triumphs of slow processes.
Momentum Building on Immigration Reform
In case you’ve missed the news surrounding immigration reform, here’s a brief update.
Last week, a bipartisan group of eight Senators unveiled a set of principles in support of immigration reform. The following day, President Barack Obama spoke at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas., where he released his proposal for a commonsense solution for immigration reform. Both parties see the moral and political need to address this issue.
President Obama is keeping up the pressure as he continues dialogue with numerous stakeholders to highlight the broad support for reform. On Tuesday he met with numerous external leaders hosting two separate meetings at the White House — one with progressive and labor leaders and the other with leaders from the business community — to discuss his continued support for an immigration reform package he hopes will pass this year.
Campaign for Citizenship Highlights Harmful Effects of Family Separation
On Jan. 17, faith leaders, DREAMers, and community leaders from across the country gathered in Washington, D.C., to launch a new Campaign for Citizenship — an effort to pressure Congress to enact reform that prioritizes citizenship.
The Campaign for Citizenship, a project of PICO National Network, invited our country’s leaders to gather and view the “Separated Families Supper Table.” At the table gathered DREAMers and clergy next to empty seats representing the millions of homes around the country experiencing family separation as a result of our broken immigration system.
As each member at the table spoke, they expressed how every day, families like theirs have to sit at their dinner tables and try to cope with the fact that a family member is missing. They have to live in constant worry for their family member’s safety and well-being in a distant land that is oftentimes unfamiliar to them. Families are experiencing real loneliness and grief.
Evangelical Leaders Launch 'I Was a Stranger' Immigration Campaign
On Monday a group of prominent faith leaders belonging to the Evangelical Immigration Table gathered on a press call to launch largest evangelical mobilization effort for immigration reform known to date.
Reaching out to more than 100,000 evangelical churches nationwide and more than 875,000 followers through social media, leaders promoted the “I Was a Stranger” immigration prayer challenge and a feature video that encourages congregations to participate. During this initiative, participants are asked to read one scripture on immigration a day for 40 days and reflect on it to help inform their views.
This campaign is part of a broader evangelical effort to help change the hearts and minds of policy makers and build the political willpower to pass immigration reform. Faith leaders encouraged our nation’s leaders — especially those who are compelled by their faith — to take the challenge and enact immigration policy that is driven by biblical principles.
Most Americans Support Path to Earned Citizenship
With discussions looming about the Obama Administration’s supposed efforts to aggressively push for comprehensive immigration reform early next year, its important now more than ever to know where the public stands.
A recent POLITICO/George Washington University poll shows that most Americans support a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented immigrants in this country.
“The national poll, conducted last week, finds more Republicans — 49 percent — support a path to citizenship than oppose it — 45 percent. Democrats favor this approach 3-to-1, 74 percent to 24 percent. And independents back it by a 26-point margin, 61 percent to 35 percent.”
So what does this support mean for immigration reform? Read more here.
Conservatives, Progressives Call for Action on Immigration Reform
Today, both progressive and conservative leaders from the business, law enforcement, and faith communities came together in Washington, D.C., during the two-day National Strategy Session to launch a new consensus around immigration reform.
Leaders launched the event with a press conference highlighting our broken immigration system — which affects all sectors of society — and urged immigration reform in 2013 that includes legalization and path towards citizenship.
United We Dream Launches Platform for Immigration Reform
More than 600 representatives from the United We Dream network, the largest young adult immigrant movement in the country, have signed on to a new platform calling for an “inclusive pathway to citizenship” that includes DREAMers, their parents, and their communities. The group is pledging to hold both parties accountable and pressure them to create a roadmap toward citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
Obama’s Immigration Opportunity
As President Barack Obama prepares for a second term, immigration reform is rumored to be at the top of his agenda. With conservative opinion on the issue shifting, a unique opportunity exists to fix our nation’s broken immigration system. Americans are eager to see the president and Congress make progress on this unnecessarily vexing issue.
The record Latino voter turnout in support of President Obama played a key role in his electoral victory, as he won 71 percent of the vote compared with 27 percent for Gov. Mitt Romney.
Immigration Leaders Gather to Discuss Need for Reform
Last week, I attended the 9th Annual Immigration Law and Policy Conference at Georgetown University Law Center, where a number of senior government officials, policy experts, academics, and advocates discussed one of the most paralyzing issues of our time —immigration.
As each panelist attempted to provide their thoughtful legal and policy analysis on a number of issues like immigration enforcement, the federal government’s responsibility on immigration policy, and litigation developments, the differences in opinion between the speakers quickly emerged, even though there was consensus that immigration reform is significantly needed in our country.
Many agreed that the issue of immigration is of staggering complexity. The solution that is developed by the federal government must be a conglomeration of multifaceted mechanisms that address the brokenness of our current system at the policy, legal, and administrative level. This comprehensive solution must also be a clear reflection of the historical context we currently live in since it’s not in our best interest to use an outdated system from the past as an exemplary model for the future.
Dropping the 'I' Word
A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
I often wonder how frequently people think about the impact their words have on others, specifically, on the development of human perception. The conclusion I’ve sadly reached is that when a language norm is established by dominant cultural forces —such as the news media, in our day – the truth seldom matters. Once something is spoken and repeated enough times people consider it to be true regardless of the real facts or circumstances.
One recent debate clearly illustrating the power of words is around which terminology the media should use when referencing immigrants who are in this country without authorization to work. Those outlets that use the word “illegal” defend this practice by pointing to the Associated Press’ Stylebook, which designates “illegal” as the appropriate term. Those using the term “undocumented” have noted the changing circumstances within the culture and recognize that using such inflammatory terminology only adds fuel to the proverbial political fire around the issue of immigration.
Congress Looks at STEM Visas
Congress is due to recess soon, but members are trying to pass a bill attempting to increase the availability of high-skilled visas for the tech industry before adjourning at the end of this week. While different versions of the legislation exist, the fundamental goal is to allocate more visas to foreign-born graduates of U.S. universities who have obtained a master’s or doctorate degree
s in science, math, technology or engineering (STEM) fields.
Protecting Immigrant Families: Webinar on Family Unity Waivers
Whether encouraging children to succeed, caring for elders at the end of life, or investing in struggling communities, strong families can make all the difference. Unfortunately, our broken immigration system often negatively affects families, increasing both their emotional stress and financial burden. Too often our laws actually separate family members from each other in ways that create lasting damage.
Recently, the federal government announced a policy change designed to keep families together as they navigate the process of applying for green cards. While this shift will also streamline the process and reduce the complexity of application, the new rules can still be confusing to those seeking help. That is why the Interfaith Immigration Coalition is working to educate the faith community about these developments. On September 10, the Coalition will host a webinar from 4-5 p.m. EDT for faith leaders interested in learning more. Take this opportunity to hear from policy experts, legal advocates, and faith leaders about this important topic.
When: Monday, September 10th from 4- 5 p.m. EDT
States Have Passed Fewer Immigration Laws in 2012
A recent study by The National Conference of State Legislatures shows that in 2012, states passed fewer immigration laws than previous years.
“U.S. state legislatures passed fewer immigration measures this year because lawmakers' priorities shifted to balancing budgets and U.S. courts were weighing how much authority states have to enforce immigration laws, according to a study released on Monday.”
Read full story HERE.
Details Released for DREAMer Relief Process
Today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) provided additional information on Obama’s DREAMer relief process in preparation for the August 15 implementation through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) agency. Items discussed included:
- Requestors – those in removal proceedings, those with final orders, and those who have never been in removal proceedings – will be able to affirmatively request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals with USCIS.
- Requestors will use a form developed for this specific purpose.
- Requestors will mail their deferred action request together with an application for an employment authorization document and all applicable fees to the USCIS lockbox.
- All requestors must provide biometrics and undergo background checks.
- Fee waivers cannot be requested for the application for employment authorization and biometric collection. However, fee exemptions will be available in limited circumstances.
- The four USCIS Service Centers will review requests.
To read details on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process (DREAMer relief) visit USCIS website HERE.
For a great account on what Obama's move means in real terms for DREAMers, read Mariella Saavedra's post HERE.
Reactions to Supreme Court Ruling on Anti-Immigrant Law (PHOTO & VIDEO)
Today, as I stood on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court eagerly following Arizona’s SB 1070 ruling, I had the opportunity to interview some advocates of the immigration reform movement.
The message that seemed to resonate among those present was that athough three of the four provisions were struck down, the fourth —the so called “show me your papers” clause — is very harmful to communities. It allows racial profiling on the basis of appearance. Even though there might be limits on how this last provision is implemented, those who feel they have the legal authority to enforce laws might feel compelled to use this piece as an excuse to discriminate.
Alabama’s Indefensible New Immigration Law
Last week, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley made a morally indefensible decision. He signed HB 658, which intensifies the climate of fear that already hangs over Alabama like low dark clouds before a hurricane.
Bentley once claimed that HB 658 would simplify HB 56 — the current anti-immigrant legislation that catapulted Alabama to the national stage. If this is simplification, then I’d like to see Bentley’s version of messed up. HB 658’s additional punitive measures now have created a more problematic situation that exacerbates the current oppression of some of the most vulnerable souls in Alabama.
The new law is reckless. HB 658 calls for the creation of an online public database to expose the names of all undocumented immigrants who have appeared in court. In addition, the law targets innocent children by requiring schools to check the immigration status of students.
Work of Many Hands
Food-related coverage in this issue was supported by ELCA World Hunger (www.elca.org/hunger)
“Lord, you are good to all and compassionate toward all you’ve made ... You are faithful in all your words, and gracious in all your deeds. The eyes of all look to you in hope, and you give them their food in due season” (Psalm 145:9, 13, 15).
I often reflect on this message from Psalm 145 and how each of us will interpret it differently according to the experiences we’ve had in life. This is true even for the things in life that connect and affect us all.
Take, for example, God’s gift of food. We are interconnected by this thing that was created to nourish our bodies and minds, allowing us to function in our daily lives and permitting us to live a full and healthy life. Yet how often do we think about where the food we eat comes from?
When I’m at the store, I often wonder whose hands cultivated and cared for the plants that produced the piles of neatly stacked fruit and vegetables. Was it a Lupe, a Daniel, or a Jesus? How long did they have to work under the blazing hot sun in order to get the produce to the store? What are their stories and where do they come from?
I think about these things because I grew up with people who worked long, hard hours to produce the best quality of fruit for the market. Since I was very young, my immediate family has been immersed in agricultural work. My mother was a farm worker who picked fruit and vegetables. Once we children were old enough, we joined my mom and the rest of the labor force, which was mainly comprised of immigrant farm laborers. In the 19 years I’ve been around this work, rarely have I seen a non-immigrant hand in the orchards, and if I did, it surely wasn’t to help pick the fruit in bags that weigh up to 45 pounds.
Misguided Encouragement Leads to Deportation of Indonesian Immigrant
The day before the Rev. Seth Kaper-Dale was supposed to meet with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials, a tragedy occurred — one more Indonesian immigrant from his congregation was deported.
Like many of his fellow Christian brothers and sister who arrived in the United States in the late 90's and early 2000's, Ferdy Warouf fled Indonesia because of a rise in Islamic extremism that threatened the lives of the Indonesian Christian community.
Why Can't Americans Work the Fields?
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
How ironic that for all the protests going on about unemployment these days that a parallel debate is occurring in our agricultural sector: What to do about a shortage of workers to pick crops or care for livestock on U.S. farms.