Written by: Samantha Rudzitis-Buono, Alexandra Archuleta, and Danielle Torres (California State University, East Bay)
Faculty Adviser: Nolan Higdon (California State University, East Bay)
This proposal outlines the problems facing Immigrants, some of the organizations working to solve those problems, and a solution for ameliorating the problems facing immigrant communities. Our proposal argues that non-profits need to provide basic legal knowledge services to immigrants. Furthermore, digital technologies need to be employed to combat law enforcement’s ability to commit human rights abuses against immigrants. We propose that an ICE Tracker application needs to be developed to help US Immigrants avoid detainment and deportation.
Statement of Problem:
Immigrants in the United States are continually fighting a battle for basic human rights ensconced in the US Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence. The Declaration of Independence states that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” Human rights are granted to all human beings regardless of citizenship or country of origin. However with the current policies and practices in place regarding immigration in the US, an immigrant’s inherent right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is abused and restricted due to the deficiencies in our government to uphold and protect these rights.
The government’s inability to protect immigrant’s human rights stems from a corrupted system of policies and subsequent practices that lead people in power to commit atrocities. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a legal group founded to protect people’s rights, have been involved in a plethora of cases, both past and present, regarding the violation of immigrant rights. For example, the case of Jennings v. Rodriquez challenged the government’s practice of detaining immigrants facing deportation and then having them wait months or years without due process, including many long-term green-card holders and asylum seekers (ACLU.com). Similarly, in the case of The County of Los Angeles v. Angel Mendez, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies were searching for a suspected armed immigrant on parole and opened the door of a shack, without knocking first which is a typical practice of law enforcement. Angel Mendez and his pregnant wife were living in the shack. The police were surprised and reacted by shooting their guns which wounded the couple. The case stands as yet another example of why police training and policies are needed that emphasize de-escalation and other techniques to avoid use of force.
Immigrants in the United States face insecurities on a daily basis due to their lack of rights to education, health, property, and pursuit of happiness. When a non-English speaking person does not have a way of learning English when they arrive to the US, they can face immense challenges in finding a job, working, and earning an income (Cosgrove-Mather). The social isolation and downright prejudices immigrants face by citizens is unfair and violates the human right to life. The social exclusion that immigrants face can lead to severe psychological issues including depression and even suicide (Abrams, Hogg, and Marques). The media does not explain or defend the hardships faced by immigrants. With mainstream news outlets normalizing the use of the terms such as “illegal immigrant” and “illegal alien,” which offer a negative criminalized view of immigrants. Critics of corporate media and advocates for media literacy argue that a starting point to address the marginalization and oppression of immigrants is to put pressure on media to stop normalizing dehumanizing language about immigrants. This rhetoric endorses a negative attitude about immigrants, and is extremely over-reported. Lastly, corproate media dictates a false narrative that blames immigrants for the struggle of the working class rather than the so called one percent or transnational corporate class.
Organizations Working on Human Rights:
In California, organizations such as the ACLU, SIREN, and OneAmerica work to assist a variety of ethnicities and races of immigrants to provide equality through the program and express a balance of equal rights. They also provide relief and resources for US Immigrants.
The ACLU has assisted in protecting civil liberties since the early 20th century. In their mission statement, the ACLU of Northern California claims to be “an enduring guardian of justice, fairness, equality, and freedom, working to protect and advance civil liberties for all Californians”. They take pride in preserving American values by way of seeing it through that the promises of the U.S. Constitution are put into practice and not only on paper. While immigrants of various statuses in the United States continually fight for basic human rights, the ACLU is alongside their community to help enforce these rights. The ACLU claims that in the last 25 years, they have been at the forefront of almost every major legal battle regarding immigrants’ rights. In fact, the ACLU has dedicated their time to organize “The Immigrants’ Rights Project”, combating discrimination and enforcing the civil rights of immigrants.
Similar to the ACLU, SIREN is an immigrant rights organization that supports US Immigrants on a political and personal level. Not only does SIREN work to help provide education, basic living needs, and many other essential human rights services to immigrants and refugees; they also handle community organizing, immigration legal services, and policy advocacy to ensure that their work helps not only the individuals but the overall problem of the lack of human rights available to these immigrants. SIREN is based in San Jose, California and has been in operation for 30 years now. Their stated vision is, “SIREN has a vision of a new America where immigrants are valued, integrated, and seen as essential to our society, and where the human rights of all persons are protected and honored” (About SIREN).
OneAmerica is an organization of allies who work to build power with immigrant communities to advance the fundamental principles of democracy and justice at the local, state, and national levels. The organization was founded in a response to the attacks and hate crimes that followed after September 11th terrorist attacks on the US. Much discrimination around Arabs, Muslims, and South Asians in general formed after 9/11. The organization advocates with many communities of color and is a leading force for immigrant and human rights. OneAmerica strives to ensure equal access to power and opportunity by eliminating oppression and raising awareness of civil rights.
ACLU, SIREN, and OneAmerican all work towards the same goal and that is to fight for immigration rights. The collectively visualize a new America where immigrants are valued, integrated, and viewed as vital part in society. These organizations strive to ensure equal access and opportunity by eradicating oppression and raising consciousness of civil rights. Working together gives many immigrant ethnic groups the right to equality even if they are not an American Citizen.
Media and Communication Solutions:
Research shows that the US needs to ameliorate human rights abuses against immigrants. Our proposal argues that non-profits need to provide basic legal knowledge services to immigrants. Furthermore, digital technologies need to be employed to combat law enforcement’s ability to commit human rights abuses against immigrants.
We argue that the problem could be partially solved by having numerous non-profit organizations provided classes or seminars to educate immigrants on their basic rights. This will “[…] ensure that its laws, policies and practices do not place immigrants at an increased risk of human rights abuses,” (Immigrants’ rights are human rights). This plan should not assume that immigrants lack of knowledge concerning their rights is the problem. Instead, this can provide immigrants with some tools to use when their rights are being violated
Similarly, we argue that social media is beneficial for immigrants in order to organize for equality. Schools and libraries need to work to make digital technologies available for vulnerable immigrant populations. This will allow immigrants to take advantage of our proposed digital application: The ICE Tracker application (Immigration and Customs Enforcement). The ICE Tracker will allow an individual to report nearby ICE agents to anyone with the app in the area. It could contain additional functions that would mention news regarding legislation and how it would affect immigrants. In addition the app will offer store one emergency contact in case an individual is arrested by ICE. We are seeking funds to launch this proposal. If you are interested in our proposal please contact our faculty adviser Nolan Higdon: NolanHigdonProjectCensored@gmail.com
Alexandra is a senior at California State University, East Bay. She currently holds a position as a Marketing Coordinator at Bluesun Marketing, Inc. and hopes to continue her career in marketing after she receives her B. A. in Communication with an option in Professional, Public, and Organizational Communication.
Samantha is a Senior at California State University, East Bay. Upon completing her B.A. in Communication with an option in Professional, Public, and Organizational Communication, she hopes to work as a Media Relations Manager for one of the many civil rights organizations in the Bay Area.
“What Are Human Rights.” What Are Human Rights. United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, n.d. Web. 28 Jan. 2017. <
“Liberty.” Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017. <https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/liberty>.
“Immigration Detention Map & Statistics.” Endisolation. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Jan. 2017. <
“US: 20 Years of Immigrant Abuses.” Human Rights Watch. N.p., 25 Apr. 2016. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.
Abrams, Dominic, Michael A. Hogg, and JoseÌ M. Marques. The Social Psychology of Inclusion and Exclusion. New York: Psychology, 2005. Print.
Cosgrove-Mather, Bootie. “Language Barriers Cause Problems.” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 06 Aug. 2002. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.
Derose, Kathryn Pitkin, and José J. Escarce And. “Kathryn Pitkin Derose.” Immigrants And Health Care: Sources Of Vulnerability. N.p., 01 Sept. 2007. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.
“Immigrants To Have Inalienable Rights to Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness ” Anderson Ingemarson. Web. 22 July 2014
“The Meaning of The Pursuit of Happiness” Web. James R. Rogers 19. June 2012
Haverkamp, Kirk. “ I’m Not a U.S. Citizen. Can I Get a Mortgage?” Credit, 11 May. 2015. Web. 29 Jan, 2017
Mears, Teresa. “13 Documents Mortgage Lenders Need From Homebuyers” US News, 23 July. 2015 Web 29 Jan, 2017
Taylor, Susan Johnston. “Buying Real Estate as an Immigrant to the U.S.” US News, 04 Nov. 2014. Web. 29 Jan, 2017.
Davidow, Bill. “The Internet ‘Narcissism Epidemic’.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2017.
“Immigrants’ Rights Are Human Rights.” Amnesty International USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 07 Mar. 2017.
“Home.” SIREN | Services, Immigrant Rights, and Education Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Rights.” ACLU of Northern California. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Feb. 2017.
“A Step Closer to Comprehensive Immigration Reform.” A Step Closer to Comprehensive Immigration Reform | OneAmerica. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Mar. 2017.