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Month of November, 2009

Screening of Made in L.A. at the Diocese of Orange

We haven't blogged for a while - but for a good reason, as we have been on the road with Made in L.A. for much of the Fall in celebration of Latin@ heritage month across the US. Here are a few events we attended:

At the end of the summer, we headed to Orange County to present Made in L.A. at a meeting of parish representatives from the Diocese of Orange, which had contacted us to promote Made in L.A. for screenings in their 60+ parishes in Orange County as a tool to explore issues of low wage work, immigration reform and immigrant rights.


Anna Nersesyan (our wonderful outreach assistant), Robert Bahar, Bishop Flores, Sister Eileen McNerney, Lupe Hernandez, Georgeann Lovett, Almudena Carracedo, Angelo Paparelli, Shirl Giacomi, Maria Aroyo.

The panel featured us and Lupe, as well as Maria Aroyo, Education and Formation Coordinator from Catholic Relief Services; Sister Eileen McNerney, Founder of Taller San Jose; Angelo A. Paparelli, Immigration Attorney and Blogger.

Georgeann Lovett, Director of Respect Life, Justice and Peace from the Diocese of Orange commented on the event: "I received VERY positive feedback from the event. It was considered very timely... very powerful (someone referred to it as potent)... The documentary and the discussion highlighted why people are immigrating into the United States both legally and illegally; the problems with trying to come here legally; how women are treated; the garment industry; worker exploitation in general; the idea that people of the same ethnic background are preying on their own; the situation of separated families; our Catholic Social Teaching regarding immigration, and the list goes on and on. Everyone walked away with powerful images and new awareness of this issue, its complexity and ways to better understand and get involved."

Latino/a heritage Month - Normal/Bloomington, IL

On September 15th, the first day of Latino Heritage Month, I traveled to Normal, Illinois to do a series of presentations an a keynote speech at the Latin American/Latino Studies annual gala at Illinois State University... At the invitation of Professor Maura Toro-Morn from Illinois State University, who spearheaded the events, I arrived in Normal only to find a full house at the city's Normal Theater, along with press waiting to ask questions about the film.

After the Q&A, the Central Illinois Organizing Project (CIOP) held a prayer vigil in front of the theater. The idea was to bring together folks who didn't know each other and to ask someone to volunteer their story. In my group, a women cried while telling her story: she had come to the U.S. as a school student and when her visa ran out, she worked in all sorts of full-time jobs while studying, experienced humiliation, but endured and was eventually able to get her high-school diploma, then her Bachelor's, and she's now a PhD candidate. She's paid taxes the entire time but she still has no papers. This was just one of the moving stories at the vigil that underscored the human impact of the current immigration system, and the many lives that could be touched by reform.

On the third day, I visited Illinois Wesleyan University for a moving presentation at the Student Center. Professor Kathleen O'Gorman had contacted me a few months earlier, and by coincidence I was already planning to be in the area at ISU, so she put this presentation together quickly and how glad I am! A full house once again and a very intimate conversation with the audience left me energized and wanting to return to these twin cities!

The ISU events were sponsored by: Latin American and Latino Studies Program, College of Arts and Sciences, Diversity Advocacy, Fell Trust Committee, University Housing Services, Milner Library, Women's and Gender Studies.

The IWU event was sponsored by the Latin American Studies Team of the International Studies Program, the Office of Co-Curricular Programming, the IWU Action Research Center, the Women's Studies Program, the Hispanic Studies Department, and the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs.

Latino/a Heritage Month - King's College

On September 28 we took a bus from New York to Wilkes-Barre, PA to do a presentation at King's college. The event was organized by Isabel Balsamo (with the support of Brother George, both pictured), coordinator of the Hispanic Outreach program, a program that brings high-schoolers and youth to the King's College campus for the summer so that they can get comfortable in the university setting and apply to college -their success rate so far is 100%!

Latino/a Heritage Month - North Shore Community College

And just one day later I took a quick flight up to Boston for a presentation organized by the wonderful Gloria Lopez of the Diversity Leadership Council of North Shore Community College. The event took place in their big gymnasium, where College president Wayne Burton introduced the film, emphasizing the importance of Latino Heritage Month. The organizers devoted special attention to inviting community organizations serving youth (which received free copies of the film) and it was great seeing families, youth, professors and students together at the screening.

Latino/a Heritage Month - St Louis, MO

In October we headed to St Louis, MO, for a few events organized by the Missouri Immigrant and Refugee Advocates (MIRA) and the St Louis Interfaith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA) including a fundraiser for both groups that was held at Bethel Lutheran Church. Gilbert Bailon, the Editorial Page Editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch provided opening remarks and the spirited post-screening discussion was moderated by Rebecca Rivas of The St. Louis American.

The following day, Professor Joel Jennings hosted a Community Screening of Made in L.A. at St. Louis University in an event that was supported by the US Census. The auditorium was packed with students, and we had a vibrant Q & A.

On the third day, we had a great screening at UMSL, where Robert's sister Sonya is a professor and directs the Center for Neurodynamics. The event was organized by Deborah Cohen, from the Department of History and the Institute for Women's and Gender Studies.

Mundo Latino wrote a beautiful review of the film (in Spanish)!

Lupe and Joann in Vancouver, Canada

Last month Lupe and Joann (stars in Made in L.A.!) went to Vancouver for two Made in L.A. screenings at the University of British Columbia (UBC), organized by Sociology Professor Jennifer Chun. I met Jennifer last March at a Ford Foundation-sponsored conference on Low-Wage Work, Migration and Gender in Chicago, where we screened Made in L.A. Jennifer decided the Vancouver community needed to see the film and she single handedly fundraised and organized to bring Lupe, Joann and me to Canada. At the last minute I wasn't able to go, but Joann wrote a few words to share with the Made in L.A. community:


Jennifer Chun, Joann, Joann's son Dylan and Lupe at one of the presentations
"The first day's screening was at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC, which houses amazing art, sculptures, and other artifacts of the native peoples of British Columbia. The audience definitely liked "Made in L.A." and had good questions about the industry, organizing, and race relations. The second day's screening was in a theater at Simon Fraser University, and since this day's event was publicized to the community, the room was packed! People had to sit in the aisles. And they loved "Made in L.A." They gave it a standing ovation at the end.

We also learned a little bit about Vancouver during the Q&A and from Jennifer. There are still sweatshops -little factories and home work-in Vancouver. Vancouver is about 40% immigrant (if I remember what Jennifer told me correctly)--from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and now more from Mexico and other parts of Latin America, the Middle East, and other areas of the world. Groups are organizing in immigrant communities, such as Justicia for Immigrants and another center for education.

We had a great time in Vancouver. I took my 14-month-old son Dylan along. Jennifer was really gracious and took us around the city, including a stop at Cafe Rhizome where we had delicious food and dessert. One of the owners of the cafe was a long-time organizer with Mujeres Unidas y Activas in San Francisco. Thank you to Jennifer and to all the organizations that co-sponsored the screenings!"

This event was sponsored by: UBC Department of Sociology, UBC Initiative for Student Teaching and Research in Chinese Canadian studies (INSTRCC), St. John's College, UBC Centre for Women's and Gender Studies, SFU Latin American Studies Program, SFU Department of Geography, Hospital Employees' Union (HEU), Vancouver District Labour Council, Pacific Northwest Labour History Association, Canadian Union of Postal Workers, UBC School and Regional Planning Program (SCARP), UBC Department of Anthropology, UBC Centre for CrossFaculty Inquiry in Education (CCFI), UBC Law and Society Program, SFU Women's Studies Department, UBC Department of Geography, Justicia for Migrant Workers, No One is IllegalVancouver, Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA), Coalition of Progressive Electors (COPE).


Breakthrough's Restore Fairness campaign

We wanted to highlight Breakthrough's "Restore Fairness" campaign, which is using video and multi-media tools to draw attention to the lack of due process in the immigration detention system. Their work is very important and is closely related to the work that we've been doing to use Made in L.A. to tell the human stories of immigrant workers and to build support for immigration reform. Here's a video about their campaign:

Restore Fairness: bring back due process to the immigration system from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

As we started to explore the "Restore Fairness" site, we were moved to tears by Juana Villegas' story, and by everything it reveals about due process, the flawed 287g program that empowers local law enforcement to enforce immigration laws, and the issues women face on a daily basis. We hope you'll take a moment to watch this video and to explore Breakthrough's call to action below:

Juana Villegas: A Pregnant Woman Detained from Breakthrough on Vimeo.

More information and additional media is available at http://restorefairness.org. Here is Breakthrough's call to action:

Since the Declaration of Independence, America has striven to uphold human rights ideals like fairness and due process. However, in the aftermath of 9-11, the government often arrests people without warrants, holds them in inhumane detention conditions, and deports them without a fair trial.

Join us by taking action now. Because when we let the government deny due process and human rights for some people, we put all of our freedoms at risk.

1. Watch "Restore Fairness".
2. Tell Congress to restore fairness right now.
3. Sign up for updates so you can continue to take actions that support fair immigration.
4. Become an ally by signing the pledge and get featured on the home page.
5. Spread the word by announcing "Restore Fairness" to friends, on your website/blog, twitter, facebook and email signature. (Watch a powerful video #Restore Fairness and take action to fix a broken immigration system).
6. Leave your comments on the video and blog.

Together, we can stop the erosion of our fundamental human rights!

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