City Council 5-0 on Vote to Support TPS Proclamation

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:

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. 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.

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.

Cookies Not Cages Local Effort Raises $12,000 to help reunite families

When the dialogue on El Cerrito Next Door landed a suggestion for a bake sale to raise money for detainees at West County Detention Center, members of ECP agreed to get involved. Although some thought it was a long shot or at least an effort that might not yield much money, In the end, we raised $10,000 for bonds to support Freedom for Immigrants in 2018. 

This year we wanted to do something again. We sought out an organization doing immigration work locally with a solid reputation. We were deeply affected by the pictures of the young children in cages so we decided to support East Bay Sanctuary Covenant and specifically help the organization fulfill a need for additional legal services for unaccompanied minors in our community. We met them at their offices to discuss our fundraiser and were so impressed by their work and what they were able to do with such limited space and funding. 

They told us that since 2014 EBSC had provided legal assistance to more than 600 unaccompanied children fleeing gang violence, human trafficking, and domestic abuse in their home countries. We also learned that as of January 2019, the apprehensions of unaccompanied minors at the border had increased over 40%. We wanted to help.

The organizers for Baking for Bonds regrouped and recoined the effort: Cookies Not Cages.  We launched our campaign on the 4th of July with a Gofundme followed by monthly bake sales at El Cerrito Plaza and Kensington Farmers Market. Cookies Not Cages set a $10,000 goal. 

Hundreds of cookies, brownies, pies, cakes and breads yielded thousands of dollars!

Once again, we called out the larger community reaching out first to the bakers and sellers that worked with us last year. Immediately we had the bake sales up and running. Almost every sale we sold out! Everything was donation based. We had many generous donors give us $20 and not take a thing. Others used our sale when they were going to a potluck or having visitors over and bought a variety of items. 

The first weekend we made over $1,000 just at the El Cerrito Plaza. And subsequent weekends were just as successful. People really wanted to help.  Our majority-female group raised over $12,000 for EBSC and they were able to increase access to legal services for minors. While we couldn’t change policy, we could make a difference in the lives of those children who are seeking to remain in the community with their family members.

Our brigade of women was from our community (El Cerrito, Kensington, Richmond) and they did us and the community at large proud! And to the men or women who may have been in the kitchen helping out or watching the kids -kudos to you!

We reached out to local businesses and want to give a special shout-out to Ojas Yoga in the EC Plaza. Ojas placed a donation can in their Yoga Studio and helped to spread the word.  And the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley Social Justice Committee hosted a special bake sale that garnered over $500 dollars!

For any of you feeling frustrated and overwhelmed,  think about the ways you can make a difference. The ideas you have can help others that need it now. Then grab some friends and make it happen. We showed that it can work!

Meet the Author-David Bacon

DATE: Saturday, October 12th

TIME: 3:30-5:30 PM

PLACE: Berkeley Zion Presbyterian Church, 545 Ashbury Ave., El Cerrito

Photo-journalist, activist and photographer David Bacon will be speaking on several of his books addressing the plight of farmworkers in the U.S. and around the globe. His work provides insights into the roots of immigration from Central America and Mexico to the United States. He documents the experiences of some of the hardest-working and most disenfranchised laborers in the country: the farm workers who are responsible for making California “America’s breadbasket.” . Bacon will discuss the inherent abuse in the labor contractor work system, and remind us that the struggle in the fields for justice is far from over. In his latest book, (available at the event) David Bacon will remind you that the food that appears on our dinner tables is the result of back-breaking labor, rampant exploitation, and powerful resilience. Reserve tickets at this link: Event is ADA accessible and free parking in lot on side of building. This event is sponsored by El Cerrito Progressives. For more information contact by email: or call/text 510-734-8883


Cookies Not Cages: Sweet Success So Far!

Local campaign through ECP in partnership with East Bay Sanctuary Covenant to raise funds for legal assistance for unaccompanied minors.

The locally led campaign fired up with volunteer bakers and staffers is bringing sweets to the neighborhood in exchange for monetary donations of any size. Operating two bake sale tables monthly, one stationed at El Cerrito Plaza (Saturday), the other at the Kensington Farmers Market (Sunday), we are reaching hundreds of residents and raising thousands of dollars. Thank you to the generous hearts of residents throughout our community. Total to date sent to the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant: $8,869 plus a $1,000 match.

Dates: For future Cookies Not Cages Bake Sales from 10:00am – 2:00pm

  • Saturday, September 14th , October 19th El Cerrito Plaza (Near Trader Joes)
  • Sunday, September 15th October 20th Kensington Farmers Market @ Colusa Circle

Action Alert: Pack the Court!

The East Bay Sanctuary Covenant are the lead plaintiff suing the Trump Administration regarding the Third County Transit Ban. There will be a hearing on their REQUEST FOR A TRO (TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER) ON WEDNESDAY, JULY 24, AT 9:30AM. The hearing will be at the Northern District courthouse in San Francisco, 450 Golden Gate Ave. Judge Tigar’s courtroom is on the 19th floor. They are asking supporters to show up. There are also some other action steps at the bottom of the info below. For more information 

Facts about the Third Country Ban Lawsuit

According to Michael Smith, EBSC’s Director of Refugee Rights, “Trump’s policy is illegal and usurps the power of Congress to make laws. Seeking asylum is clearly protected under U.S. and international asylum law. EBSC’s asylum clients are fleeing horrific violence in their home countries. EBSC has one of the largest affirmative asylum programs in the U.S. and has successfully helped almost 4,000 people to obtain asylum.

Over 97% of EBSC’s asylum cases are approved, showing that these claims are meritorious. These are people fleeing persecution and seeking safety under the law. Contrary to what the administration is claiming, this population is not safe in Guatemala or Mexico, where they are vulnerable to their persecutors and other forms of oppression. Many of EBSC’s clients, including LGBTQ people and survivors of gender-based violence, are fleeing persecution in Mexico. Asylum seekers crossing the U.S. southern border are not only from Central America. They may be from Russia, Africa, and Asia; some have traveled through South America, the jungles of Panama and Central America, with the hopes of reaching safety. Nearly all of EBSC clients are victims of atrocious forms of persecution – 80% have been raped or sexually abused, including male and female children. Going forward, 80% of EBSC clients would be unable to apply for asylum.

The ramifications of the Trump administration’s actions will be long-reaching for people who are genuinely deserving of asylum protection. EBSC’s 37-year old asylum program reaching the most traumatized populations would be terminated. Act Now! Write your congressional representatives! Join EBSC’s social media networks. Share accurate news and articles so more people are informed of the detrimental impact of these attacks on asylum law. Support EBSC by volunteering or donating – your support matters!