Napolitano as Secretary of DHS and the UC student opposition

Janet Napolitano became governor of Arizona on January of 2003. During her office she opposed the Bush Administration’s plan to create a 600 mile fence along the border region. After her appointment as secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHL) in 2009,  she authorized the addition of more fence miles around the border while increasing the number of agents patrolling the border.

Napolitano also enhanced the heavily criticized component 287(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which increases the cooperation of local law enforcement agencies with DHL to capture undocumented immigrants. With training, funding and supervision from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), police departments can carry similar functions to those of ICE.

During the Bush administration the budget for 287(g) was $15 million. In 2013 the budget had more than quadrupled to $68 million. Critics such as the Detention Watch Network–a coalition of organizations that advocates for immigrant’s rights–point out that  through this partnership undocumented immigrants will be reluctant to report any crimes, which will increase criminality in immigrant communities. Additionally, local police departments will spend resources and time on deporting undocumented immigrants rather than tackling criminal acts. Furthermore, critics point out that 287(g) has allowed police departments to carry out racial profiling.

For instance, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is notorious for his participation in the 287(g) program. Under his command, the authorities of Maricopa County allegedly racially profiled Latinos, violating constitutional rights of citizens. U.S. District Judge G. Murray Snow found Sheriff Arpaio guilty of violating constitutional rights and racially profiling.

 Apprehention of Mexicans 2009

The chart above illustrates the apprehensions carried out by ICE and Border Patrol targeting ethnic/national Mexicans (which were detained for violations of civil or criminal laws, or for “reasonable” suspicion). In the years ranging from 2009 and 2011, more than three-fourths of apprehensions carried out targeted ethnic/national Mexicans.

Apprehention of Mexicans 2010

Apprehention of Mexicans 2011

In targeted Latino communities, those found to be “illegal” are “removed” from the country. Janet Napolitano compromised to target those undocumented criminals who pose a threat to society. However, less than half of those deported did not have any criminal convictions. Furthermore, most of the deported “criminal” immigrants committed petty crimes, such as DUI’s and misdemeanors. The New York Times reported than in 2009 only 5.6 percent of deported immigrants have committed violent crimes. This is less than the 46,486 undocumented parents who were forced to abandon their children in the U.S. after being deported in 2011, which was 12 percent of the deported immigrants for that year.

Furthermore, the United States Government Accountability Office submitted an assessment of ICE’s and local authorities’ use of program 287(g), stating that they would “process individuals for minor crimes, such as speeding, contrary to the objective of the program.”

Deportations 2001-2012

Those who are deported end up in correctional centers, jails, and prisons run by private corporations that have been known to run under unregulated and precarious conditions for the detainees. In 2012, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) submitted a written statement to the House Committee on the Judiciary in which the ACLU condemns the inadequate medical, hygienic, and safety regulations in detention centers and the lack of rape preventative measures.

On November 4th Napolitano sent a letter to all UC students “to express (her) gratitude for the warm reception and insightful instruction (she) received.” However, throughout the UC system there was an active opposition movement expressed towards her appointment. Protests spurred on the eve of her campus visits.

At UC Irvine, about 75 students protested Napolitano’s appointment. In UC Davis about 50 students rallied for their demands. In UC Santa Cruz 30 students protested outside her meeting with undocumented students. UC Berkeley students chased her and demanded her resignation. Around 40 UCLA students awaited a rally for her arrival to demand the democratization of the UC system. Additionally, UCSD and UCI student governments moved a vote of no confidence on Napolitano.

A day earlier, on November 3rd, students from the UC campuses gathered in UC Santa Barbara to create a UC-wide coordinated body against the appointment of Napolitano. The event was attended by 31 students, 3 teacher’s assistants and a worker. The meeting was planned in secrecy; one student asked for everyone to take the battery off their cell phones to prevent any spying from external agencies.

The main goals were to not recognize Napolitano as the UC president and to advocate for the democratization of the UC system. Debbie Tuarte, a second year UCSC undocumented student shared with the group her experience of when she meet with Napolitano on October 30th. She said that students met with Napolitano in hopes of working things out, but the “cold” and “expressionless” way she treated the students deteriorated discussions. She highlighted the occasion in which a student at the meeting asked her to guarantee that she will disburse money for undocumented students, and Napolitano responded by sardonically saying that she did not have her checkbook at her hand. At one point in the meeting Tuarte walked out of the meeting, saying that she will not take money from an “oppressor.” She joined the protest outside the meeting and read the following statement:


The place to be is not here in this room with you. The place to look is not to you. The place to look is to ourselves. We are powerful…I will not ask for support from my oppressor. I will not waste my voice on someone who has already forced me to waste so much of my life living in fear. I will not give up my freedom for the change in your pocket. And because of that I decide to not waste my voice here.


Ruben Barrera, a Sociology major, who participated in the protest outside the meeting said that “people came out crying with their heads down” and since then there has not been open communication between the undocumented student organizations at UCSC.

Napolitano has no previous educational experience. The regents alleged that they chose Napolitano for her ability to handle complex public systems. However, doubts are raised. When critics highlight her incapacity to prevent human rights abuses against undocumented immigrants, her active promotion of racial profiling and her violation of constitutional rights stand when changing offices.

But at the end, the fundamental question that UCLA students opposed to Napolitano raised was: Who chose Napolitano? Not students, faculty or workers.

The decision was made by the regents who are also not elected by the general UC population.

If UC students, workers and faculty had no participation in the election of the president, and if this president has no background in education, and if this president has much opposition, why did she take the position? As head of DHS she was paid around $200,000 a year. Now, as president of the UC system she will be paid $570,000 per year, $8,916 a year for car expenses, $142,500 for one-time housing relocation cost, and the UC will pay a monthly rent of $9,950 for her.  A very compelling argument is that she is in for the money, but that may be too simplistic. Is it?


Graphs compiled by Juan Torres


La Causa’s journalism group redefines East LA youth

La Identidad is a journalist group of young adults who attend La Causa YouthBuild. La Identidad was founded April of 2013 by Academic Counselor Omar Jimenez and 8 bright individuals. It began as a journalism class, which later developed into a team of writers. We have both been a part of this group since its beginning. We write articles on things of our own personal interests or on topics that have impact on our lives. After some debate and voting, no name really expressed who we were. So, that is how we came up with the name, La Identidad, or, The Identity. We chose this name because the name would allow us to show our identity and what makes each of us unique. We all have different experiences and perspectives of each other, our surrounding communities, and ourselves. It’s your differences that matter and make up who you are, not your similarities.

La Identidad’s focus is to publish our opinions and our experiences as members of the East Los Angeles community. We construct articles on struggles and barriers we go through growing up in our communities, which create our identity. We also highlight the great work of the different programs and individualistic’ work that is created in the classroom and in our communities.

This journalism group is important because as we get to publish and share articles we grow as individuals. Our writing, communication, and social skills are something we work on and develop. We also believe it is important for the reader to be informed about the culture and the people in their surroundings. Being students of East Los Angeles often comes with a stigma; our mission is to redefine our identity as youth of our community by proclaiming who we really are.

Our latest project consisted of each member of La Identidad writing an autobiography in order to justify our identity through the self and to reflect on the different things that have impacted us and continue to impact us as young adults and as students of La Causa YouthBuild.

La Causa Youthbuild is a non-profit organization that operates out of the TELACU building on the corner of Goodrich and Olympic in East Los Angeles. The mission of this organization is to recruit youth that have been pushed out, have dropped out, or have aged out of traditional school. These young adults are not challenged, by these school systems, to exhibit their highest potential and often times are belittled by educators. These educators are not actively engaging with their students, as they should. Teachers show a lack of interest to personally connect with the student; therefore, the acquisition of educational knowledge is diminished. La Causa is here to provide resources, vocational training, leadership and community service opportunities, and to entice students to discover their true potential. They offer their full support and immense teaching abilities, working with the age group of 16-24 that truly wants to reconnect with their education. This program drives each student to realize the importance of themselves as members of society.

La Causa is made up of different components. Fabian Lijtmaer is Director of Wellness and Green Projects and oversees La Causa’s community service program named Paloma. Lijtmaer says, “Paloma is an essential part of the leadership component here at La Causa; we build leaders through initiatives to transform the community through healthy food and wellness.” Current projects of Paloma are converting two corner stores to provide healthier food access to the community, feeding homeless, doing garden work, and beautifying elementary schools. Jhoanna Ramirez, a current Paloma student mentioned, ”We are converting corner stores, and making them greenhouses for better food resources.” This means providing healthy fruits and vegetables for purchase. Felisha Garcia, another Paloma member, shared what she has obtained from being a part of Paloma: “I am becoming a leader by interacting with my community, and helping those in need.” Paloma’s mission is to reach out to the community and have an impact on how community members see food and know how to eat healthy. Through this process, students can develop leadership, understand how to communicate with others through group projects, and learn leadership responsibility by completing projects within a certain amount of time. The goal is to influence the community to be healthier and promote service.

La Causa is partnered with a high school diploma program known as YouthBuild Charter School of California. This program is different from traditional high school because teachers and students learn from one another. It is more engaging, meaning there is more of an individual connection. Students get to bring their experiences and apply them to class. Every student is involved and there is also more of a focus on the student from a collective point of view, meaning that all students come together as one.

In speaking with lead teacher David Flores he stated that what they teach is “culturally relevant.” He says, “We (teachers) do not teach by the book.” We do not use textbooks, we learn from teacher-composed lessons. Teacher’s grade critical thinking through project based assessments known as APT’s (Authentic Performance Tasks). An APT is given to a student after every unit, or end of each month. It is given to measure students’ understanding of the month long lesson.

As a program La Causa emphasizes attendance, since they believe many students end up out of traditional schools because of poor attendance. The teaching style La Causa teachers use is active listening and active learning. As Flores mentioned, “Teachers respect student knowledge and use student experiences in class, resulting in both teachers and students learning from each other.” All of this is happening in an active learning environment. In contrast, traditional school teachers teach with the perspective that they know everything and the student knows nothing.

Students are graded on three different criteria. First, is the academic part, meaning it is focused on research and best ways to gather information. Student academics are graded based on how students analyze, think critically and problem solve. Secondly, students are evaluated on post secondary readiness and leadership development. These criteria grades students on developing their studying skills, such as how they predict, analyze, actively read and speak in public. Lastly, is the students understanding of social justice. This focuses on a student’s social justice consciousness and helps each student understand terms such as oppression, awareness on justice and community involvement.

The way student’s benefit from this approach to education is, as Flores mentions, “They leave La Causa realizing that they are not 100% at fault for what happened to them in traditional school.” They also leave realizing that they are intelligent and that there are different types of intelligence, such as critical thinking, written intelligence, and verbal intelligence.

La Causa YouthBuild offers a vocational component known as the construction program. This component is a nine-month process of leadership and developing new skills. The members who are eligible to join the construction program are required to be between the ages of 16-24 and in pursuit of a high school diploma. This construction program teaches members residential construction, and trains members to receive OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Act), CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation certification) & first aid certification.

Residential construction teaches members how to frame materials, meaning that these individuals learn to construct wood frames. This subject helps members get in the construction industry by teaching them basics that they can carry on if looking for a career involving construction. As Ben Garcia, Construction Manager, mentions, “I will not make you a plumber but I will teach you the basics to fix piping.”

The American Red Cross leads the CPR first aid session, a process that teaches members the fundamentals of CPR. The OSHA subject teaches members about safety around their work environment. In this part of the program individuals become safety certified by meeting training and industry safety experience requirements.

Overall, the construction program can help a member with a future career because they teach the basic construction fundamentals and employee readiness. This program is funded with the Department of Labor and is partnered with Great Alternative. Great Alternative focuses on solar projects like solar panels and anything having to do with solar energy. Manual housing is another partner, which is an organization that focuses on fixing and helping low-income homes.

After completing the nine-month process members receive an education award of $1,468 after completion of 450 service hours. Construction member Jaime Aguilar shared how he planned to use his education award, saying, “I plan to spend it on a laptop for college, because I am sure it will come in hand.” This reward can benefit those members who are pursuing post secondary education and are financially struggling.

Executive Director Sonia Sanchez Garcia shared that some of her most memorable experiences at La Causa are seeing the pride in the eyes of those who cross the stage in July to get their high school diploma. “‘This is why we do what we do,'” she says.

“Every student is different and every student comes with different goals.  The only growth and development I hope to see in our students is what they set for themselves.  I already know what they are capable of doing and becoming.  I wait for them to come to that same realization, which they do in their own time.”

From left, Mario Mora, Omar Jimenez, Steve Jimenez

From left, Mario Mora, Omar Jimenez, Steve Jimenez

La Identidad has the pleasure to be partnered with the great people that make up La Gente. This is the first of what we would like to be many contributions made to this publication. We hope to continue as contributors to La Gente in order to share our identity as writers, youth of East Los Angeles, and students of La Causa YouthBuild. A big thank you to Editor in Chief of La Gente, Michael Reyes, to Web Design Editor, Michelle Salinas, and to all the Gentistas for the support and this opportunity.

Written by Mario Mora and Steve Jimenez, students from La Identidad and La Causa YouthBuild


Dia de Los Muertos: Hollywood Forever Cemetery

On November 2, Hollywood Forever hosted its 14th annual Dia de Los Muertos. The theme for the celebration was El Magico Mundo de Los Alebrijes, brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of magical creatures. The event featuring an altar contest, arts and crafts, food and local vendors, a Calaca costume contest, and live performances, highlighting special performers such as Saul Hernandez and Buyepongo. Photos by Melissa Merrill and Erika Ramirez


Dia de Los Muertos: UCLA Grupo de Folklorico

Grupo Folklorico de UCLA hosted its annual Dia de Los Muertos celebration on campus in Ackerman Grand Ballroom. The event featured dance performances, a community altar, face painting, arts & crafts, and Pan de Muerto. Special guest performers included Conjunto Tenocelomeh, Cabeza de Vaca Cultural School, and Ballet Folklorico Alma de Oro de Carson. Photos by Mayra Jones, Melissa Merrill, and Erika Ramirez

Dia de Los Muertos: Self Help Graphics

A Día de Los Muertos Celebration was hosted by Self Help Graphics & Art, located on East 1st Street in Boyle Heights. Along with vendors and face painting, there was musical entertainment and altars. Little shops were set up to sell many Día de Los Muertos themed clothes and trinkets, while food vendors sold various things, from pan de muerto to elotes. People dressed in elegant costumes and had elaborate face paintings. The venue was filled with interesting, friendly people from nearby communities, creating an inviting and extremely fun environment throughout the night. Photos by Mayra Jones and Madelinn Ornelas

Dia de Los Muertos: Placita Olvera

The Dia de Los Muertos celebration at Placita Olvera took place from October 25 through November 2. During this time, there were candlelit Novenario processions every night with free pan dulce and champurrado offered at the end. On the actual Day of the Dead, hundreds of people were able to enjoy face painting, Aztec dancers, folklorico, strolling mariachi bands, and street theater performances. Traditional community and merchant altars were on display outdoors in the Plaza area as well. Photos by Mayra Jones

Osito Profile: Willie Martin Raygoza

Coming from South El Monte, California, freshman midfielder Willie Martin Raygoza was thrilled when he was given the opportunity to play soccer at UCLA.

During his sophomore year at South El Monte High School, Raygoza was offered a spot on the men’s soccer team. It was a huge exhilaration for him and his family when they heard the news.

As a first-generation college student, the news of attending a university filled his entire family with pride. “They all were very proud of me. They really wanted me to (attend) UCLA,” Raygoza said.

Raygoza, who started playing around the age of seven, was inspired by his dad who also played soccer. Some of Raygoza’s achievements include being rated number nine club player in the country by Top Drawer Soccer, as well as scoring the game winning goal in the finals for the Galaxy in the 2011 U-15/16 U.S. Soccer Department Academy National Championship, in which he was the captain.

Willie Martin Raygoza

Raygoza manages both soccer and academics, saying that “it’s not as difficult.” He is currently Undeclared, Life Science and plans to pursue a career in professional soccer.

Raygoza feels privileged to be Mexican and pursue soccer at a university like UCLA. As the oldest child, and the first of his entire family to attend university, he reminds us:

“Nothing is impossible. If you want it, fight for it.”