The Central Valley is in trouble, and this time it has nothing to do with water (or lack thereof).
The trouble I am speaking of is immigration. On a daily basis we see raids that tear apart families, while our local law enforcement is complicit in these actions. Furthermore, local law enforcement helps to facilitate the lies and half-truths coming from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
We can't do much about it due to a lack engagement and communication among county immigration organizations.
I am a member of Kern County Democratic Central Committee, and co-chair for Democratic Central Committee’s subcommittee on immigration, as well as a member of the local immigration group KWESI (Kern Welcoming and Extending Solidarity to Immigrants). I’ve discovered a staggering lack of communication between organizations all moving toward the same end goal: an immigration plan that makes sense, and doesn’t denigrate or turn immigrations into the evil “other.” One of my visions for the Central Valley is a unified fight against the poor treatment of not just illegal immigrants, but all immigrants.But it's proving harder than I first thought.
I recently had the chance to hear a local immigration leader, with one of the larger immigration groups (in terms of exposure) in the county, speak about the need for disrupting our current system, and I agreed with them. I decided to approach the speaker afterward about an idea of mine. By my count Kern County has at least five immigration groups. Yet, as far as I can tell, these groups do very little (if any) coordination. So, proposed that we form a coalition. This would help reduce redundant work and facilitate a broader approach to the issues surrounding immigration. By sharing information and resources these individual groups can maximize their impact and create a more unified message.
My suggestion was met with derision because I’m a member of the Central Committee, which accoriding to this speaker hasn’t done enough on immigration issues. Even if I accept that premise (which may be largely true) the point is that organizations and their objectives can change. I was shocked and a little disappointed to be turned away.
In fact, this alleged failure bt the local Democratic Party was the impetus for forming the Central Committee’s subcommittee on immigration. What’s even more ironic is that I’ve never seen a member of the speaker's organization attend a Central Committee meeting. Whereas, other immigration organizations have given presentations about Mesa Verde and other immigration issues. Moreover, one will almost certainly find a member of the Dolores Huerta Foundation at these meetings. I see Emilio Huerta at 90 percent of the Democratic Central Committee meetings.
No man, or organization as it were, is an island and until we see a coalition of local immigration organizations come together we will be fighting a battle divided, a battle that we will lose, until we, as grassroots activists and organizers, come together to fight this battle unified. We can’t afford to fail because thousands, if not tens of thousands, of lives here in Kern, and millions nationwide, hang in the balance. It is time to put away our egos and do what is right for not just our local community, but the community writ large. To paraphrase state Democratic Party Chair Eric Bauman, California is the progressive leader of this nation and the “big blue beacon of hope.” And my hope, for the sake of those suffering from the immigration of policies of the last three presidential administrations, is that we can build a coalition of local immigration organizations to become that beacon of hope — one that shines so bright that local, state and federal officials will not be able to ignore it. Otherwise, I fear we’ll keep fighting the same battle we’ve been fighting for nearly two decades.
Nick Nicita is a member of the Kern County Democratic Central Committee and co-chair of the KCDCC subcommittee on immigration.