Victory in Somerville! Unanimous Resolution rejects the use of the term "illegal" to describe undocumented immigrants in Somerville, MA.
Somerville, MA- After months of preparation, advocating and hard work, the youth of Centro Presente and CORES were able to celebrate Monday night as the Somerville School Committee passed a unanimous resolution discouraging the use of the term “illegal” to describe any person and affirms the positive contributions of new immigrants as a valuable asset to the city of Somerville.
This work is part of SOMOS/WE ARE, an initiative of The National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities (NALACC) that is designed to reclaim the humanity of immigrant communities in the US.
“We could not be any prouder of the work these youth from Centro Presente and CORES did running a grassroots effort to engage in the civic life of their hometown,” said Patricia Montes, Executive Director of Centro Presente and board member of NALACC. “I think the youth made a compelling case that every Somerville student, no matter what their national origin or immigration status, should be treated with dignity. We are also very proud and appreciative of our School Committee Members and Mayor Curtatone for their support of the students’ efforts.”
“The anti-immigrant sentiment is increasing and for that reason it’s important for us to discuss this issue and try to have an open dialogue about immigration,” said Kati Medrano, a 12 year old member of Centro Presente’s Youth Program. “As a community we need to say that we don’t stand with hateful language that is tearing our families apart, please help us drop the word ‘illegal’ and bring some humanity into the immigration discussion.”
“Somerville has always been a welcoming community, and I recognize that my teachers work hard inside of the classroom to create a safe community for all of us regardless of immigration status,” stated Katherine Hernandez, a 15 year old Somerville student and Centro Presente youth member, “However, as an undocumented student, I want to know that the community where I live doesn’t criminalize me outside of the classroom by using words such as “illegal” that dehumanize me.”
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Centro Presente is a state-wide, membership-based Latino immigrant organization that advocates for immigrant rights and for economic and social justice through the integration of community organizing, leadership development and basic services.