This photo by Noah Berger appeared in:
the New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, CBS News, TIME, KPCC, KQED, and Vox.

Articles on Organizing and Advocacy Work

April 4, 2023 - ‘As Broader Sweep of Anti-Trans Action Comes to Sacramento Region, Community Organizations Push Back’, CapRadio

March 20, 2021 - ‘We Will Not Simply Move On This Time’ (on a Stop AAPI Hate rally), The Davis Enterprise

February 9, 2021 - Farmworker Advocates Call for Vaccination Priority, The Davis Enterprise

January 9, 2021 - Jorjorian Named Brinley Award Recipient, The Davis Enterprise

November 30, 2019 - Davis Community Comes Together in Support of DACA, The California Aggie

June 3, 2019 - How Jailing Migrant Children Became an Act of Compassion for One Northern California Community, Reveal from the Center for Investigative Journalism and The Journal of Alta California

My response to this article:

This article captures some of the moral ambiguities of hosting unaccompanied immigrant minors in a jail facility, and overall, I enjoyed talking with the reporter, Patrick Michaels, who asked incisive questions. Yet the finished article still leaves readers with some misconceptions that I would like to clarify: 

 1. The activists trying to keep these kids in Yolo County are not all white, not by a long shot. One example is Sylvina Frausto, who has led the volunteer program supporting all the youths--Yolo County and ORR--for the Holy Rosary Church in Woodland. Sylvia is Latina and an immigrant, and representative of the Holy Rosary congregation. Many volunteers who help these kids also have children, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren who look exactly like the kids incarcerated at the Yolo JDF. 

2. No one thinks we are "saving" these kids by keeping them in a jail-like facility. This is the exact crux of the moral knot about the ORR program: we don't know what will happen to these kids if we terminate the ORR contract with Yolo County. If we knew that the kids would be released to families, our choice would be crystal clear. Unfortunately, we cannot know whether they will be released or merely jailed in another location--and currently the only other location available is the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center (more about that below). 

3. The majority of people who have been working to keep these kids with Yolo County have been working and volunteering directly with them for years--not people who have taken a one-day tour. As an activist and an organizer, I must respect the opinions of people most directly involved on the ground. The decision about where they will go will rest with ORR, which is federal, not county, and as we know, the current Health and Human Services administration has a poor record of acting "in the best interest of the child" as required by law. The factors why we believe that ORR kids are better off--not "saved," but marginally better--in Yolo County rather than at the ONLY other facility that has a contract with ORR in the United States, the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia: 

 - Access to the best legal immigration representation in the United States, a known positive factor that gets immigrants released from detention at much higher rates than immigrants with no legal representation. 

- Residence in a legal jurisdiction that is far more sympathetic to immigrants than anywhere else in the nation. 

- A robust, interested, and active local community poised to advocate on behalf of these kids with local, county, and federal representatives--as we have several times. 

- A facility that is notably better than other jails. Yolo JDF is considered relatively positive (not exemplary, but merely better) when compared to adult detention facilities in California (report: People who have been incarcerated tell us they prefer Yolo County's facilities. Yolo JDF also has a far better reputation than the only other facility that holds ORR youths, Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. See these articles about abuses documented at the Shenandoah facility. 

Currently, there is a plan underway to possibly close the Yolo JDF, which would effectively terminate the ORR contract and render all these discussions moot, as noted in the article. 

Whether Yolo and ORR youth would be better served by closing the Yolo JDF or not is a question local activists are currently grappling with. In the case of our local Yolo youth, some would probably go into alternative programs to incarceration. Some would probably go to the Sacramento facility, which could be a hardship on their families. 

Again, because ORR is federally controlled, we have no idea what would happen to the ORR youth. We can offer ORR recommendations, such as releasing them to blood-related or foster families, but we have no guarantee or leverage that would ensure that ORR would follow these recommendations. 

For those who have been working in direct contact with the children for years, such as the Yolo Interfaith Immigration Network (YIIN), Holy Rosary Church, students at UC Davis, and more, the ideal solution would be for Health and Human Services to provide mental health support, family reunification or foster family placement efforts, and compassion to these kids who have survived hardships that no child should face, ever. 

What they do at the Yolo JDF is triage for an immigration system that is broken, and that under the current administration, is punitive. 

Want to keep these kids out of jail facilities? Vote for comprehensive immigration reform that provides paths to citizenship, higher acceptance rates of asylum-seekers, and an emphasis on mental health care as an alternative to incarceration. Most importantly, tell your Members of Congress that you are aware of the abuses of immigrants happening in the United States, and you find them utterly unacceptable. This is just one small example of how our nation is committing human rights abuses against vulnerable people every single day.

May 16, 2019 - Community Pride Celebrations Welcome All, The California Aggie

February 24, 2019 - Poetry Reading Elicits Dreams for Undocumented Youths Behind Bars, The Davis Enterprise (not quoted, but one of the organizers for this event)

November 2, 2018 - Humanizing Deportation Exhibition Continues at I-House, The Davis Enterprise

September 26, 2018 - Yolo County Women Recognized as "Women of the Year," Woodland Daily Democrat

March 11, 2018, Yolo Rainbow Families Hosts Workshops About Gender-Diverse Children, The California Aggie

February 15, 2018, Transgender Author Janet Mock Discusses Intersectionality at UC Davis, The California Aggie

May 10, 2017 - County Renews Contract Housing Refugee Minors at Juvenile Detention Facility, The Davis Enterprise

March 7, 2017 - Gender-Neutral Bathrooms Are More Than Symbolic to Kids, The Davis Enterprise

March 3, 2017 - Supervisors to Vote on Resolution Affirming County as "Safe and Welcoming to All," The Davis Enterprise

February 6, 2017 - School Board Approves "We All Belong" Resolution, The Davis Enterprise

December 16, 2016 - School District Aims to Calm Parents' Fears, The Davis Enterprise

December 7, 2016 - Hundreds Gather to Address Concerns over Trump Presidency, The Davis Enterprise

July 8, 2016 - Local Congressman Addresses Gun Violence at Roundtable Discussion, Elk Grove Citizen