The national elections held in November had a strong impact on youth and especially their parents. Youth and their parents feared their safety and their future in this country due to the negative attacks on immigrants during the course of the election. To address the challenge, we decided to ask our local school districts to pass “Safe Zones” which would indiscriminately protect all youth from harassment and Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE). The youth and their parents were forceful in their “ask” – this was not about wins, but rather, the safety and wellbeing of our community members.
Youth and parents from Santa Barbara met with Kate Parker, the only sworn in school board member at the time, to introduce a resolution protecting youth. The School District agreed to do so. The resolution was held on Tuesday December 13th, 2017 and passed unanimously, no abstentions. This was a powerful and healing moment for parents and students as the school district embraced all youth regardless of background, ethnicity and immigration status. Vicente worked with both parents and youth to fill the room to capacity – the room was a standing-only by the time that the resolution was brought to vote. At the meeting parents and students spoke loud and clear about their stories and what they hoped this resolution would do to the community. Family Leadership Conference was instrumental in getting parents involved in advocacy and organizing around this issue.
Similar to our youth and parents in Santa Barbara, Oxnard youth also decided to work on a “safe zone” resolution with OUHSD. The students and parents started to meet with the Superintendent, Penelope de Leon, and Guadalupe Reyes to look at the options. The youth and parents made it clear that they wanted unwavering and visible support from the District especially regarding the protection of undocumented youth – the District agreed. FLA partnered with Dreamers without Borders, MICOP and CAUSE to pass this resolution. The youth and parents spoke passionately about their stories and why this resolution matters to them as people and the community. The resolution passed unanimously at the school board meeting with no abstentions or negative comments from the public or school board members. This too, was a healing and empowering moment for the youth and parents. They witnessed the impact of their voice, importance of advocacy and how to dismantle racism locally. Thanks to the efforts of youth organizer, Gabriela Macias, we also had over 45 youth and parents who attended the meeting.