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Gilroy
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October 15, 2021

Activists rally for immigration reform in Morgan Hill

South County nonprofit led demonstration at CCC

CARAS, the Community Agency for Resources, Advocacy and Services of South Santa Clara County, hosted a Papeles para Todos (Citizenship for All) rally on Sept. 18 in front of the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center. 

About 20 supporters showed up to support what has been called a pathway to citizenship for 8 million immigrants, along with another 3 million who were also promised the same rights, according to rally organizers. 

However, U.S. Senate parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough this week blocked a $3.5 trillion spending bill that would have included a massive immigration reform effort, according to NPR

CARAS youth case manager Gabriela Mendoza knew to expect some people in town that might also have opposing views on the immigration reform. But, she said they still felt safe enough to stand up for what they believed in because of the fight, or the lucha, that’s in them from families of generations in the past.

“People might not agree with what we’re doing here but it’s part of the excitement,” she said. 

According to CARAS, they are a non-profit organization that was formed to serve incoming youth and families by providing culturally competent and sensitive programming based on the needs of those in South Santa Clara County.

The program was formed by community members concerned with the lack of services available to Latino families. The services they provide include, but are not limited to, programs for parents, women, children, adolescents and seniors.

CARAS programs focus on leadership, intervention for at-risk youth, education and health and fitness as well as advocacy and immigrant’s rights.

Most of the attendees at Saturday’s rally were youth members from the groups within the organization, including Gilroy High freshman Hazel Quintero. 

The 14-year old Gilroy native was at the rally to support her raza (race), along with her family and her community. 

“We’re here, we’re a small group,” she said. “But we help out the community as much as we can… we’re just here to support our people.”

Hazel Quintero, left, of Gilroy, a member of the CARAS youth program, participated in a rally on Sept. 18 that took place in front of the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center on Monterey Road. Photos: Juan Reyes

Hazel said being part of the community means helping one another, which she believes includes helping immigrants gain citizenship and knowing their rights. 

She also mentioned that being part of the rally was important to her because of her Chicana background. Hazel said she just wants family separations and deportations to stop happening.

“Because no one is illegal on stolen land,” she said.

Hazel mentioned that she lost a couple of family members due to deportation after they were racially profiled. 

She was invited to join the youth groups at CARAS and she instantly began attending rallies and protests as a youth intern.

Hazel said she became part of a family that could all stand together and lead the way.

“I’m an American but I have my raza, I have my Mexican roots,” she said.

Mendoza, 34, came from immigrant parents but she said they never taught her to fight for immigrant rights, or any rights.

She mentioned that watching the youth protest is something special because it shows that they too have the lucha in their sangre (blood) to fight for what they believe in.  

“It just amazes me because they are our future generation and seeing them is amazing,” she said. “They could be asleep right now but they feel safe here and they feel that they’re part of the community, that they can make a difference.”   

The CARAS youth group based out of Gilroy participated in a rally on Sept. 18 that took place in front of the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center on Monterey Road.
CARAS youth case manager Gabriela Mendoza participated in a rally on Sept. 18 that took place in front of the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center on Monterey Road. Photos: Juan Reyes

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