Last month, I had the privilege of being appointed to the Council's newly-formed Ad Hoc Committee on Immigrant Affairs, which will oversee and coordinate the issues of immigration and federal funding.
As the topic of immigration continues to divide the country, I want to reassure you that I stand by our Latino community. On that note, it gives me great pleasure to present to you a guest column by Isabel J. Sanchez, Policy Advocate with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA).
By Isabel J. Sanchez
Throughout the Presidential Elections, an issue that remained on the forefront was immigration. Today, our reality is President-elect Trump, who is to assume office on Jan. 20, 2017. His task and that of the new Republican-led Congress, is to govern and honor our diversity and values, which will require working and engaging with others instead of insulting and belittling our communities. His election brings forward many unknowns, fear in immigrants, unaware of what the future holds for them, and plenty of questions.
In the wake of the election results, state officials, and local officials, including Councilmember Curren Price, have expressed their continued support for the immigrant community. Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck affirmed that policies governing how the department handles unauthorized immigrants will not change. The Los Angeles Unified School District has also stated that the district will resist any requests from the federal government to release students’ information for immigration purposes. Additionally, California State University Chancellor Timothy P. White has declared that campus police will not honor federal hold requests. These are a few of the measures California, and the City of Los Angeles, are upholding to ensure that our communities remain safe, while continuing to serve as a leader and a visionary for our nation.
At this time, no drastic changes have been made to our existing immigration law, and our community should not expect any changes until after President-elect Trump’s inauguration. This is the time for our communities to become and stay informed, learn what your rights are should you be apprehended, perhaps even create a family contingency plan in the event that there is a deportation. Furthermore, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has indicated that there will be no increase in raids or massive deportations.
When seeking legal counsel, make an appointment with an immigration attorney, or a local community organization, such as the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA), who will provide you with guidance at a very low cost. Be aware of dishonest notarios or immigration attorneys who may counsel to apply for programs unknown to you to “protect yourself.” During your legal consult ask questions to better inform yourself, get a second opinion, become educated on the options presented to you before investing your hard earned money into something that may be out of scope for you.
It is important for you to know, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) program remains intact and has not been terminated. DACA beneficiaries that have applied or received Advanced Parole to travel outside the U.S. are recommended to complete their trip and return to the U.S. before Jan. 17, 2017 and should not apply for Advanced Parole to leave the U.S. during that week. If your DACA has an expiration date between today and June 20, 2017, we advise that you proceed with your renewal as soon as possible. If applying for DACA for the first time, please consult with an immigration attorney and have all of your necessary documentation with you to initiate your filing process.
CHIRLA will continue to work with Councilmember Price to inform the community about upcoming “Know Your Rights” workshops and forums within Council District 9, and of other actions that may be taking place in the weeks to come.
For more information, please feel free to contact CHIRLA at (213) 353-1333, stop by our South Los Angeles office located at: 3965 S. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles 90037 or 2533 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles 90057. You can also visit our website for upcoming workshops at www.chirla.org.
On Nov. 30, I was joined by dozens of advocates, faith-based organizations and formerly incarcerated individuals to urge the City Council to approve the “Fair Chance Initiative.” The new law will remove the box from job applications that asks candidates about their criminal record and delays the background check inquiry until a conditional offer of employment has been made
I want to thank my City Council colleagues for supporting this very important legislation that I introduced in 2014 and doing what is ethically and morally right. This week's 13-1 vote, demonstrates strong support for the policy. We expect the new law to go into effect January 2017.
Without the stigma of a criminal record, job seekers will soon be evaluated solely by their skills, qualifications and merits. We have to remember people are incarcerated to serve time. Once they serve their time, we shouldn’t be punishing them further. Not allowing people to find employment, is a cruel form of punishment.
I’m proud to say the City’s version of “ban the box” is one of the most progressive in the nation. Not only does Los Angeles’ Fair Chance Policy apply to contractors doing business with the City, but it also applies to private employers with 10 or more employees.
This truly was a significant day for tens of thousands of Angelenos, and I want to thank our partner organizations—including Homeboy Industries, All of Us or None, New Way of Life Re-Entry Project, and LA Voice—for their counsel and leadership, which helped us get to the finish line.
I proposed the Fair Chance Initiative two years ago because for far too long, there has been discrimination in employment on the basis of criminal record. I personally have met individuals who have been haunted by past convictions and no matter how hard they try, are unable to get their lives on track. I’m happy to say, today is in fact a new day!
“Though it may seem exclusion has won the day, today, our city reaffirms its vow to struggle until all are included and none are left behind, left out, or thrown away,” said Rev. Zachary Hoover, Executive Director of LA Voice, a federation of 55 churches, synagogues, and mosques in LA County. “Yes, banning the box makes economic and political sense.
“More importantly, it speaks to our belief in the potential of every Angeleno, no matter their past, to seek and find redemption and rehabilitation—to embark on a new journey. Just as the father welcomed the prodigal son home with a feast, so too do we declare LA a city of joyful returns—and one with a greater opportunity to work and provide for ourselves and our families, even when we’ve made mistakes.”
Added Jose Osuna, Director of External Affairs at Homeboy Industries, “At Homeboy Industries, we believe that when people have paid their dues, they do not deserve a life sentence of joblessness. That’s why we’re thrilled that today the City of Angels has passed the Fair Chance Ordinance, giving tens of thousands of Angelenos—including the 75 percent of men and women who come through Homeboy’s doors each year with a felony conviction—a fair shot at employment. We are so proud to have worked alongside LA Voice, Mayor Garcetti’s office, and Councilman Price to ensure that our city has embraced the ban-the-box movement.”
Another fantastic partner that joined us in this fight were members of a New Way of Life Re-entry Project and All Of Us Or None.
"Today, by passing the Fair Chance Ordinance we are knocking down one of the most pressing obstacles faced by formerly incarcerated and convicted people," said AmberRose Howard, a community organizer with All Of Us Or None. "We are honoring the human dignity of those who have been disenfranchised for far too long by acknowledging that everyone deserves a fair chance at opportunities that will help enhance our lives. The city of Los Angeles is demonstrating what liberty and justice for all truly looks like."