On a chilly November evening residents and immigrant rights activists gathered outside the El Cerrito City Hall for a vigil to support the hundreds of thousands of immigrants at risk of losing their homes, family and work due to Trumps policy to end Temporary Protective Status (TPS). El Cerrito Progressives and the NOR CAL TPS Coalition comprised of labor, church, education and other organizations joined together to rally for the passage of a Proclamation in Support of Protections from Deportation and a path to permanent residency for beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, Temporary Protected Status and Deferred Enforced Departure. The Proclamation passed 5/0. (Readers can find a link to the Proclamation on page 21 of the Agenda Packet here:http://www.el-cerrito.org/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/5029
During the public meeting, Council members heard from labor organizations including the Contra Costa Central Labor Council and the San Francisco Labor Council, TPS residents with decades of history in our community – describing themselves as workers, homeowners, tax payers and parents. The explained that they came as a result of violence in their own country.
Manuel De la Paz from East Bay Sanctuary Covenant, a local group representing 1,000 TPS holders, told the Council 55,000 TPS holders reside in California and in El Cerrito he identified 10 TPS families with there likely being more. He added that 50% of TPS holders own homes .
A political science professor and a member of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) identified himself as an ex-TPS holder. Now a citizen, married with a son at UC Berkeley, he called the right to TPS a human right. “We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the US policies that committed genocide against Salvadorans” he explained, 100,000 people died during their civil war fueled by U.S. aid.
The final two speakers during public comment included a mother and her daughter fighting to keep their family together. Crista Ramos, 15 years of age, is the main plaintiff in a lawsuit suing Trump for ending TPS. https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-01-11/california-teen-leads-lawsuit-keep-hundreds-thousands-immigrants-us She is one of 10 children from many different countries, suing to maintain TPS to keep her mother from being deported. According to her testimony, without TPS, 250,000 children are in danger of losing their parents. Christina Morales, mother to Crista, came to the US in 1993 when she was 12. She is a homeowner, living now in San Pablo. For the past 10 years, she and her husband volunteer as coaches and manager for two soccer teams in Richmond. She also works as a full time classroom aid for special need students. She told the audience that the law suit is fighting to keep families together. She said, “I don’t want another home. ”
After the testimony, the audience heard Council members respond. Quinto spoke to his own history and said that These people are innocent, they are not criminals.” Ableson stated that she was “proud to see this item on the El Cerrito council agenda and retold her own family immigration story. Council member Lyman concurred with the previous statements. Council member Fadelli said that the proclamation was “easy to pass because its the right thing to do.” Mayor Pardue-Okimoto broke down in tears stating, “….the thought of being separated from my children kills me and I so sympathize with you, and it’s wrong, so wrong. ” In the end she said, “there is always hope…we are going to continue to say we are not going to stand for this kind of hatred. ” (Readers can find a link to the meeting here.https://elcerrito.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=601
Readers who want to support efforts to protect TPS, DACA and DED holders can send letters, emails and calls to both Senator Feinstein and Senator Harris, asking them to enthusiastically work toward the passage of HR 6. known as the Secure Act. The exact language states: This bill cancels and prohibits removal proceedings against certain aliens and provides such aliens with a path toward permanent resident status.https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/6