Other Voices Column by Avila Lowrance. See Immigration Action Alliance and Earth Justice Ministries Helping Those in Need, published in The Grass Valley Union, June 25, 2020.
Immigration Action Alliance is a small organization that most people in Nevada County have never heard of. We have been active since 2017 and have been engaged in projects both locally and at the state level that address the needs and rights of our immigrant community.
We have traveled to the borders of California, Arizona, and Texas to support families who are separated from their children and who face deportation to dangerous areas of Mexico and Central America. We have supported immigrants financially, socially, and legally who have been confined to jail by ICE, whose only “crime” is that they are not citizens of the U.S.
We have distributed information in Spanish and English that informs immigrants of their legal rights so that they have a line of defense against an ICE raid to their homes or places of work. We have supported Dreamers from local families and helped them apply to the DACA program. Before the pandemic we often met migrants at the Sacramento bus station on their way to a sponsor, greeting them with a smile and a bag of homemade sandwiches to let them know they are welcome in America. We are currently providing needed resources to a migrant farm working family of four who is struggling financially due to the pandemic.
We have drawn attention to the many ways that immigrants are important to our community and to the struggles they face to live in safety and provide a future for their children in our country. We hold that immigrants are essential workers, that “Immigrants Lives Matter,” and along with our strong defense of the Black Lives Matter movement, we fight for justice for both groups as one. We have recently become allied with Earth Justice Ministries of Nevada County, an organization that for years has bravely fought for peace, social justice, and environmental justice, and is now actively helping us to support the immigrant community.
The lockdown caused by the pandemic has hit all of us hard, and this is especially true for immigrant families. This segment of the population is represented strongly in the service industries in our county: restaurants, food service workers, health care workers, janitorial workers as well as roofers and landscape workers. These are brave and hard-working people who have fought and sacrificed hard to get to our country and who are making Nevada County their home. They are our neighbors. Many continue to hold their jobs while facing a certain risk of contracting the virus. But many of them have lost their jobs and are having a hard time putting food on the table.
People have been contacting Immigration Action Alliance who want to know how they can help a family in our community. Kind, generous community members have offered to share their stimulus check with an immigrant family but are not sure how to do that since many do not know a family personally. If this is something you would like to do, the Alliance strongly suggests buying a gift card in any amount to a local grocery store, perhaps Grocery Outlet, and contacting the Alliance to make a connection with a family that is struggling. We will deliver the card to that family and at the same time tell you a little about them, where they are from, how many in the family, perhaps their line of work. In order to protect them and ensure their trust in us, we assure any family who receives a gift card that we do not reveal their identity to the donor or to anyone else, ever.
So far, we have been able to deliver $2,850 worth of gift cards to local families. We thank the many kind people who have provided gift cards to so many families. It makes a huge difference to them, they are genuinely touched, and truly grateful to their community.
To contact Immigration Action Alliance please email . Checks can be mailed to Earth Justice Ministries, P.O. Box 783, Nevada City CA 95959 with a designation to IAA. To contact Earth Justice Ministries, visit http://www.earth-justice.org.
Avila Lowrance lives in Grass Valley.