Centro del Pueblo (CDP) is a local organization that works to offer support to the Latinx community in Humboldt County. Since February, CDP and many of their supporters have been gathering signatures for a sanctuary ordinance proposal for November’s ballot.
Humboldt County’s Immigration Sanctuary Ordinance is a measure to ensure that local resources and funds will not be used to assist in ICE raids and that local communities will not be targeted for immigration detainment. Reports on detainment are also requested.
On May 21 CDP submitted 5,909 signatures to the Humboldt County Office of Elections. The required amount was 3,800.
Brenda is studying Latinx American Studies at Humboldt State and is also a member of Centro del Pueblo. She traveled with CDP to various towns throughout Humboldt County during the signature gathering process.
The experience for her was interesting because it was like taking an X-ray of the county and gaining an understanding about how the community feels about immigration.
“I feel a sense of connection to those who live in Humboldt County who are from Mexico. We are trying to stop the violence, we are trying to stop the rejection and we are trying to integrate into this community.”
She worked tirelessly with others for the last 14 weeks in rain, cold or sunshine to ensure they received the necessary signatures before the deadline.
At one point, it did not seem like they would meet their goal. Through their commitment, in the end they became a testament to the power of community organizing.
“It is important for me because I came here from a very violent context. Mexico right now is not a place to go. When I think about those who are being deported, I think about where they are being sent. To war.”
A lot of rejection, including verbal-expressions of anti-immigration was the lowest part of the experience for her.
Despite experiences like these, her spirits were lifted by those who volunteered their time to gather signatures.
They also received support from various organizations and businesses such as churches, Los Bagels and the Humboldt League of Women voters. People would even send donations from places such as Garberville. M.E.C.H.A, the student-led Latinx club at HSU played a huge role as well.
Next in the process is evaluation of the signatures to make sure all names listed are valid, registered voters in Humboldt as well as a meeting with the Board of Supervisors.
Relationship building between CDP and local Native American tribes has been very important and the Wiyot have been asked for their endorsement of the sanctuary ordinance. Brenda looks forward to the exchange and celebration of cultures through these new relationships.
She was also amazed at the power of convincing people of the sanctuary through conversation and their willingness to listen and understand.
“Undocumented is not a synonym for criminal. For me, it is important to bring back the human face of immigration. It is important to make a statement of dignity,” Brenda expressed.
Renee Saucedo is a member and volunteer organizer with CDP and has been a human rights advocate for over 30 years. She said that she feels proud and hopeful they were able to gather the signatures but were forced to do so because the county did not pass a sanctuary measure on their own.
Saucedo is driven to advocacy because she understands the reality for many seeking refuge in the U.S. Her mother was deported back to Mexico in 2016. This experience was traumatic for her family, including her young son.
“Deportations have very little to do with addressing crimes or criminals. All it does is cause suffering when you forcibly separate families and parents from their children,” Saucedo explained. “It is so easy for this society to criminalize Black and brown bodies but we have to always remind ourselves that we are all human beings and criminalizing us is just a way to dehumanize us.”