What’s most important in this discussion?
First, there’s a need for immigration reform; as we have millions of families that are in this country that are contributing to this economy, their children are going to be contributing to the well-being of this country. They’re paying taxes, they’re working hard. Second, I plan to share the current policy and legislation that is coming down the pike. This is being worked on as bipartisan legislation, I should mention. Third is emphasizing the importance of immigration reform policy as an avenue toward citizenship. So not just work visas, but actual citizenship, long-term stability.
What’s your work with migrant communities like on a daily basis?
I work for the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Program, which is a federally funded program from the Office of Health and Human Services. ... We serve about 2,000 migrant families in the state of California. The program provides for quality, comprehensive school readiness programming and resources for children in these families. It’s a birth or prenatal to 5 model that invests in the early years of education as a foundation for long-term success. So essentially the children are in these programs while the parents are then able to work, because childcare is such a challenge for them, not to mention all the other incredible challenges: language barriers, social barriers, legal barriers. The other component that’s definitely worth mentioning is that the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start program is about strengthening families, not just pre-school, not just education, but really it’s about building capacity in parents as well.
What do you want people to walk away with from the upcoming discussion?
That people get a broader perspective of why immigration reform is necessary, because it impacts multiple content areas. There’s all kinds of repercussions and things that are happening because of the lack of immigration policy. ... As a result, it affects a lot of people. ... Fundamentally, I’d hope that people walk away and understand the impact that good policy could have on children and families, vulnerable children and families.