Two local groups are teaming up to give college students and the community a chance to get together and learn about immigration issues while having a good time this week.

South Kern Sol and Bakersfield College's Project Conexiones club are putting on the Dream for Social Justice Concert on Thursday, with a resource fair starting at 4 p.m. and the concert starting at 6 p.m.

"It's going to be about social justice but (guests) can also have a nice time with family or see friends," said Erick Plata Torres, one of the students organizing the event. "They can have fun with family and friends and enjoy free resources so they can inform themselves."

Students at BC, as well as at Cal State Bakersfield, have been key in the planning and promoting of the concert, with Plata Torres, Marivel Servin and Jovana Espinoza three of the seven young people helping to put on the concert.

"We couldn't ask for better students," said Oliver Rosales, a professor of history at BC who is helping the students organize the event. "This is student-driven. It's about cultivating leadership capabilities among students."

Servin, Plata Torres and Espinoza are all members of Project Conexiones on campus, a club that supports undocumented students and encourages them to take on leadership roles on campus. Each of the three is also a Dreamer, or someone who is impacted by the Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program or Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.

South Kern Sol is a youth-led community news organization covering issues in communities of color, among other topics. It has held social justice events in the past but this is the first time it has teamed up with BC, the student organizers said.

The Los Angeles-based Las Cafeteras and local band Velorio are set to perform at the concert.

"They were chosen because of the messages they send," Servin said. "Las Cafeteras have songs about social justice. Velorio is a local band, and we wanted to showcase our own."

Students will speak at the event about their own experiences. Servin will speak about being a DACA recipient, and Espinoza will speak about the unrecognized contributions of immigrants in U.S. history and the effects that lack of recognition can create. Plata Torres will speak about the challenges Dreamers face.

"Dreamers don't have it easy," Plata Torres said. "They have to work twice as hard as a citizen does to become successful."

To help guests learn more about issues raised, there will be tables with information from nonprofits and organizations, like the UFW Foundation, ACLU, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Greater Bakersfield Legal Assistance, California Rural Legal Assistance and Dignity Health, along with BC campus offices and clubs.

There will also be a cultural art activation at 4 p.m. and food available for purchase. Free food is being offered to the first 250 registered guests but those spots were filling up fast as of last week.

Anyone is welcome to attend the event, whether they are students or not and regardless of their own connection to immigration issues. 

"If we could have all of Kern County that would be great," Servin said. "It's not just for people who have ties to immigration issues. It's for people who want to know more and get involved."

Espinoza added that she wants those struggling with their immigration status to know how to find help, and for those who might not have ties to the issue to help in their own ways.

"There's a negative image of us," she said of Dreamers. "With this event, I hope it's big enough (for our message) to reach everyone."

Plata Torres said the event would be a good opportunity for those who don't know about Dreamers and other immigrants to understand more about them.

"We are not here to steal any jobs; we're not stealing the country," he said. "This is where we have grown from a child to adult. Why would we steal from our home? I want them to know we're also from here. We're also Americans."

For anyone in the community who is dealing with immigration issues themselves, the three students said the event will be empowering as well as informational.

"Spaces like this make our community stronger," Servin said. "It's good for everyone to come together and unite because with unity comes power, and with power we can do anything."

Kelly Ardis can be reached at 661-395-7660. Follow her on Twitter at @TBCKellyArdis.

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