Jose Bello & Anthony Dennis – Knowledge That Empowers
Our project, Knowledge That Empowers, is in Bakersfield, California, located in the heart of the Central Valley. Jose Bello and Anthony Dennis will leading the work alongside the support of five students, their community volunteers, who will be in charge of acting out the role plays, and helping to distribute items to the farm workers.
The goal is to educate as many undocumented migrant farm workers as we can about the Constitutional Rights they have in this country. I have made it a priority to ensure that we make contact with at least four different work crews, which is a total of approximately 120-140 employees. Our students and our volunteers will give a presentation demonstrating how to exercise their inalienable rights. Our plan is to role play at least four different real-life scenarios that could happen, where ICE tries to contact or detain a person either at work or at home, and explain in detail the which things are recommended to say or do, as well as what to avoid if ever they find themselves in a similar predicament. Our team will also be handing out a list, which contains contact information of several local immigration attorneys, as well as an extensive list of organizations that provide immediate legal assistance for those who qualify. The grant funds will be used to purchase water, transportation, printing paper, t-shirts, custom made re-usable water bottles, bandannas, and sombreros, which will have the basic “Know Your Rights Card” printed or embroidered on them. These items will be used as incentive prizes to encourage audience participation.
This project is important to Kern County because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have continued to persecute and detain our hardworking migrant community. There has been an increase in ICE raids occurring at people’s work-places as well as a dramatic spike in illegal traffic stops within city limits. The majority of individuals who are contacted, or detained, by ICE, unknowingly cooperate with agents by providing personal information about themselves, or the people they live with. Worst of all are those who prefer giving up all their rights through a Voluntary Departure than to spend another day, week, month, or sometimes even years inside these modern day concentration camps. On May 15, 2019 I was detained by ICE and spent four months in a detention center. I will never forget the look of misery on the faces of all those men and women who are being taken advantage of each and every day. This type of exploitation is only possible because most of our undocumented community have never been properly oriented about their rights, much less educated on how to properly exercise them to defend themselves during removal proceedings. These are some of the many reasons that inspired me to take initiative against this inhumane system called Immigration. We hope that this project will help change the perspectives of innumerable migrant farm workers who are living in constant fear of being deported, and empower them with the knowledge they need to defend themselves and their loved ones from the terrifying clutches of the United State’s Immigration Customs Enforcement agency.