Friday, December 5, 2014

Visit to the Spanish Speaking Citizens' Foundation in Oakland

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of giving a talk to community members about the Obama Administration's executive actions on immigration at the Spanish Speaking Citizens’ Foundation, in the Fruitvale district of Oakland.  Established in 1964, the Foundation is dedicated to improving the community for Latino residents in Oakland. Its mission is to empower community members to improve their quality of life while maintaining strong cultural relevance and tradition. The agency is a family resource center that provides a range of services to help community members successfully integrate into society.

The Foundation's Citizenship and Immigration services help families and youth integrate into society and navigate the process of becoming responsible, productive United States citizens. The SSCF assists clients with the citizenship application, prepare them for interviews, offer citizenship classes and help with passport applications. The staff educates and empowers clients to become engaged in the democratic process by assisting with voter registration, providing voter education workshops and participating in various advocacy efforts, including Latino Advocacy Day in Sacramento. 

Currently, the SSCF is busy with, among other things, assisting clients with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications and renewals.  It also assists with citizenship and passport applications and provides citizenship orientation classes, adult ESL classes, and voter registration.

Peter Roos, interim director of the SSCF and president of the board of directors, invited me to come talk.  Peter is a legendary lawyer who argued the pathbreaking case of Plyler v. Doe, in which the Supreme Court held that the state of Texas violated the Equal Protection Clause by denying access to a public K-12 education to undocumented students. 

In my presentation, which was translated into Spanish, I discussed the Obama administration's record on immigration and described generally the expanded deferred action programs, including the new deferred action program for undocumented parents of U.S. citzeins and lawful permanent residents.  The audience included many members of the community who had a great interest in learning about the Obama actions, the legal challenges, and how they might be implemented. 

It was a great audience with many thoughtful questions.  The members of the commmunity were clearly interested and engaged, as well as hopeful about the prospects that the Obama initiatives may make life a bit easier for the Latino immigrant community.


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