DACA/DREAMer Advocacy Workshop Held at Rio Hondo

Rio Hondo Continues to support and stand with DACA and Dreamers.

Written by Anthony Moreno, Reporter

On September 21st Rio Hondo held a new workshop for students. The DACA/DREAMer Legislative Advocacy Workshop was held in the Student Lounge and lasted from noon to 1:30pm. Hosted by Russel Castaneda-Calleros, Dr. Juana Mora, and RHC alumni Angel Garcia, the group taught tips and tricks on ways to advocate for affected students.

When arriving students were given five handouts to see what they would be doing for the day. An agenda was the first of the handouts and easily mapped out how the conversation would be held throughout the meeting. First on the list was a welcoming from the three leaders. Castaneda-Calleros notified students that the seating arrangement was intentional. Instead of having a lecture setup, the seats were in a circle. He explained that in the indigenous culture the circle is sacred and so was this meeting. Castaneda-Calleros also brought attention to the back of the room where a letter writing station was set up. Letters are critical when it comes to voicing opinions to congress. Dr. Juana Mora gave a brief history lesson while also giving a little anecdote, something students would learn more about further into the workshop. She spoke of the “tramuatic” election and the idea of Federalism and the fact that California can have different laws than the federal laws.

“California is at the forefront of challenging the Trump administration” Dr. Mora said.

Angel Garcia then led the second task on the agenda: notifying the difference between DACAmented and DREAMers. He put it into some simple terms DACA, which is the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, is a work permit given to undocumented citizens and the Dreamers are those who benefit from the DACA program. DACA, which was established in 2012 under President Obama, gives temporary protection from young people and gives a two year work permit, eligibility for a drivers license, and to have in state tuition depending on residency.

The third part in the agenda was to plan on potential meetings with congressional representatives. Three main congress members who the planned to send letters to are Congressman Rorbaucher, Congressman Royce, and Congressman Walters. Students were tasked with writing letters so they could send them to these congressmen.

The fourth assignment in the agenda piggybacked on the third. It was about the importance of anecdotes while writing these letters. It is of utmost importance so the people who read these letters can see that these are significant issues and that people care.

Next was a list of tips when meeting with legislators. Tips included: be on time, ask about their priorities, ask for support, photo op, and to collect business cards. It is important to as about their priorities so you can know where they stand and what they believe in. A photo op is key so you can hold them accountable for anything they said during your meeting together. It is important to get business cards as well not only from the person you are meeting with but from staff members as well to keep in touch with and remind them of your meeting.

The workshop concluded with a homework assignment and a trip to the letter writing station. First we were asked to study DACA and The Dream Act, provide anecdotes, gather information about colleges, and find five people who can also write letters. Castaneda-Calleros’ goal was to have fifty letters written.

The most profound part of this workshop came from a personal experience Dr. Mora shared with workshop attendees. She spoke about her struggle throughout her life to refer to herself as ‘American’ as she did not see herself as the poster child for an American. With the strength from DACAmented students and DREAMers, she said that has changed.

“Dreamers have changed, challenged, and redefined what it means to be an American,” she said.

The image of an American has changed and forever will be different.