With Ali and Ariel

How does immigration affect our community in terms of diversity, economy, and change? What do immigrants bring to our community? What is the history of immigration in our city and in Jackson Heights? Why is there an assault on immigration right now in our country and what’s up with that? We will explore these questions and sample the foods of immigrant communities which enrich and enhance our community.

DAY 1 JOURNAL By Maria Tane, Wendy Lama, Devika Daz

Guest Visitor: Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz

          Born in Colombia, Catalina Cruz had to immigrate at a young age due to the dangers she was exposed to in her home country. She continuously witnessed kidnapping and murder that it become a necessity to find safety. When migrating to the United States, she was able to receive an education through DACA, which later led to her success in becoming one of the first Dreamer assemblywomen. Catalina worked for a long time to gain her votes and raise money (she knocked on doors, handed out fliers, and talked to different people in the community). As an assemblywomen, Catalina helps run the money and keeps track of the state budget. Meeting Catalina and hearing her experiences was an honor for us because it made us more aware of the hardships immigrants face in the United States. For example, immigrants pay taxes, yet are not receiving fair treatment. Catalina also talked about immigration for those who are seeking asylum, however are not allowed to enter the country due to the strict government. Catalina is very representative of the immigrant community and fights for all rights, unlike most politicians. We also covered Trump’s impeachment and what it meant for immigrants. Big businesses have overpowered small, family owned businesses, and have stopped small shops from selling certain goods. For instance, Starbucks didn’t allow Arepa Lady to sell coffee if they moved in next to Starbucks, feeling threatened that more people would lose customers. Overall, Catalina’s visit was very helpful and informational when learning about such a heavy topic. 

Ice Box Movie 

     Due to the difficulties Oscar faced in Honduras (such as forcefully joining a gang and gang violence), he had to migrate to the United States. However, while crossing the border, he faced troubled when the wheel of his bicycle broke. Thus, leading to him running away from his group (The Coyotes) where he had to travel by foot during the day, where Immigration Patrol caught him. Oscar was put in a detention center with other children who had been caught crossing the border. However, the detention center were more like jail and the children were put under terrible conditions (such as only being covered by tinfoil during the cold nights). Oscar does everything he can to run away and reunite with his Uncle. This movie was very emotional and gave us an insight on the reality that those who are migrating for a better life and more opportunities face. It is unfair that many are treated this inhumanly, especially as children or those who are trying to escape death. Living in such a poor country, where not all family members could afford to travel to different countries. This has caused separation between families, leaving children alone in such dangerous conditions. All of this is due to the Presidents harsh enforcement of immigration laws.


View our slideshow here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1oFkQU6uEsZQHmbh1O5JxDBogAyiW41HeuJTsbGMpeA0/edit?ts=5dfcf29f#slide=id.p  

DAY 3: Guest Visitor Immigrant Rights Activist, Suman & Food Tour of Jackson Heights

Suman Raghunathan brings two decades of seasoned leadership, program development, and strategic vision in the immigrant rights, racial justice, civic engagement, and voter mobilization movements to her current consulting practice.  

Her expertise spans policy advocacy and analysis, legislative strategy and targeting, fundraising and network development, civic engagement, and communications.  Suman is currently helping spearhead a process with immigrant rights leaders that engages over fifty immigrant rights organizations to develop a vision for long-term immigrant justice – a first-ever endeavor for the movement.

Suman most recently was the Executive Director of South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) for five years.  During her tenure, the organization grew its community partner network by over 50%; spearheaded its first candidate voter guides in 2016 & 2018; significantly expanded its Congressional strategy and relationships; deepened its field-based organizing and base-building; led effective campaigns on hate violence and immigrant detention; and secured its largest-ever foundation funding grants.  

Suman has been quoted in The New York Times, Newsweek, The Nation, NBC News, and other major news outlets.  Her op-eds have appeared in The Nation, The Hill, The Sacramento Bee, and she has appeared on the PBS NewsHour and MSNBC. 

An experienced communicator, tactician and long-term strategic thinker, Suman has worked in both full-time and consultant capacities with the ACLU, the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights, Progressive States Network, and the New York Immigration Coalition.  A 2018-2019 fellow of the Rockwood Leadership Institute’s Leading from the Inside Out cohort, Suman holds a Bachelor’s in International Relations from Brown University and a Master’s in Nonprofit Management and Urban Policy

Food Tour of Jackson Heights:


DAY 4: Museum of the City of New York–US Census Exhibit

Ivan and Kyrie Thursday 12/15/19

  • So they promised us a bus but we took the train instead
  • We took the train to the Museum of the City of New York
  • We learned about the census and how it has changed over time 
  • Up until the second half of the 20th century it asked whether one was coloured or white
  • We learned about the demographics of our neighborhoods and percentages of people who are Black, White, Asian etc
  • The census is a way for the government to keep track of how many people are in each state by having people fill out surveys asking questions such as: 
  • How many people live in the house and what language they spoke
  • Even though there are over 60 different languages spoken throughout the NYC 
  • We went back to the Heights and ate Arepas at the Arepa Lady 
  • Most people ate arepa de choclo de queso but some people also ate de chorizo