June 6, 2015 G+ Hangout: Let’s Celebrate Immigrant Heritage Month!



IHM2015 Promo4

“We have a strange immigration policy for a country of immigrants.  And it’s a policy unfit for today’s world.” ~ Mark Zuckerberg

Unfit for today’s world. The above quote pretty much sums up the reasons why we need to develop policies that address our country’s needs for labor, for competitiveness, for survival in a rapidly moving world. From a historical context that extends to the present day, the contributions of immigrants to this country are undeniable. Immigrants have been, are and will be the driving force of America. Just look at some of the latest numbers:

  • Immigrant-owned firms today employ 1 in 10 U.S. workers
  • Immigrant entrepreneurs are twice as likely to start a business as native-born citizens
  • Immigrants make up 28 percent of Main Street Business owners, and account for 16 percent of the labor force nationally

(Source: SBA)

  • Immigrant-owned small businesses employed an estimated 4.7 million people in 2007, according to the latest estimates
  • Small businesses generate more than $776 billion annually

(Source: Fiscal Policy Institute)

And that is just the economic tip of the iceberg. Immigrants’ contributions to American cuisine, arts and culture, the sciences, and every aspect of society is undeniable. Yet, instead of being celebrated, they have become some politicians’ favorite piñata: The go-to scapegoat for whatever ails the country at any given time. They’re despised, harassed, vilified; their lives torn apart. This calls for a change in the narrative: It’s time for US immigrants to harness our power, claim our stakes and take our immigrant stories on our own hands!

That’s why I simply LOVE the new Immigrant Heritage Month campaign from the folks at Welcome.us and FWD.us. With the goal of bringing together a dynamic coalition of individuals and organizations to encourage every American to tell their immigration story, the campaign examines the complexities of being an immigrant by highlighting and celebrating the diverse experiences, colors and flavors that make up the very fabric of the United States.

This Friday, I have invited some of the folks behind this exciting initiative to discuss why this is the time to celebrate our Immigrant Heritage. My guests:

We’ll discuss why this us such a timely campaign, the steps they are taking to help change the narrative about immigrants in this country, and how YOU can get involved! Watch below, or join us LIVE on G+ on Friday 6/5 at 11:30 am ET!

May 20, 2015 G+ Hangout: Special Interview: Rep. Rubén Gallego


Rep Ruben Gallego Promo

On Wednesday May 20, 2015, I have the honor of interviewing the son of Latino immigrants, a veteran, and a community leader, U.S. Representative Rubén Gallego from Arizona’s 7th congressional district.

In his relatively new role as a congressman, Rep. Gallego is quickly managing to make a name for himself by tackling very important yet polarizing issues like income inequality, the cost of higher education, immigration reform and campaign finance reform, veterans issues.

We will discuss his humble background, his stint at Harvard University, his service in Iraq, his political trajectory, and what he would like his legacy to be. Don’t miss his amazingly inspiring story, send him your questions, and tune in!


May 19, 2015 G+ Hangout: Life as a Young Parent #IamYoSoy



For a population that continues to have the highest rates of teen pregnancies (Latina adolescent females ages 15-19 had the highest birth rate: 41.7 births per 1,000 adolescent females in 2013), there seems to be little conversations or programs geared to support young Latinas dealing with parenthood.

Young Latin@s have to contend with several conflicting yet pervasive cultural expectations, such as the tendency to discuss sex only in the context of marriage (if at all), the push Latina women to begin families earlier while stigmatizing them if  — God forbid!  — they happen to become single mothers. All of these create a complex dynamic that often leaves young parents isolated, vulnerable and without much needed guidance on becoming the best parents they can be.

This Tues., May 19th at 7pmET, I have the honor of hosting my #IamYoSoy coalition partners: Advocates for Youth, California Latinas for Reproductive Justice, Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity & Reproductive Rights, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, the Hispanic Federation, and Voto Latino on an open and honest discussion with young #Latino parents to talk about their experiences and why it’s important to support young parents.

The national I Am/ Yo Soy campaign is dedicated to ending our community’s silence about sex education, birth control, abortion and young parenting. Please help us spread the word, support our efforts and, of course, watch the hangout! You can also follow the conversation and send your questions on hashtag #iamYoSoy.

April 21, 2015 • G+ Hangout: Taking Action To Save Our Earth


This week marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day, a day in which the global community pauses to celebrate our connection to our mother planet, Pachamama.Yet, as it has become increasingly clear, one day of the year is not enough. For many communities, Latinos included, the consequences of damage to the environment are something to be dealt with every day. These communities breathe the dirtiest air, live near the dirtiest of polluting power plants, in the areas most threatened by climate change.

The links between climate, environment and poverty are well documented (just Google the terms), and are increasingly the subject of discussion among organizations that focus on environmental justice. This Tuesday April 21st, 2015,  I’ll host a conversation examining these links, as well as the challenges and opportunities as we search for potential solutions to some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues.

• The League of Conservation Voters (@LCVoters)
• Earth Justice (@EarthJustice)

Stay tuned for more details, but for now, save the date!

#GirlBoss Lessons from NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito #LaJefa


According to the Urban Dictionary, a Girl Boss is “THE woman who is in control. She demands respect and gets it. She runs the show.”

Why in the world there isn’t a photo of Melissa Mark-Viverito next to this description, is beyond me. The current New York City Council Speaker oozes girl-boss-ness (yep, I made that up), right down to her unconventionally cool childhood story: She credits her father, a doctor who provided services to people who couldn’t afford medical care; and her mom, a feminist, as the source of her lifelong social consciousness.

This thirst for social justice, she says, informs all her decisions when it comes to enacting policy and speaking up on issues, such as immigration. Under her leadership, for example, the city has implemented legislation that limited cooperation with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency in order to protect undocumented New Yorkers who have committed nonviolent, low level offenses from deportation. It has also secured legal representation aid for unaccompanied minors brought to the city, among many other initiatives. All because, in her words, “we believe people should have legal representation and get a fair shot.”

These initiatives are prompting other states to seek her advice as they seek solutions for similar circumstances. Her growing influence has not gone unnoticed, and is already prompting speculation about her future in politics. And while she says she’s staying put for now, she also concedes that “all options are on the table.”

From equality to the shifting Latino leadership she’s helping pioneer in New York City, to the plight of women of color in politics, Speaker Mark-Viverito shared one glorious half hour with me on her first-ever Google+ hangout, veritably handing out fierceness lessons at every turn. And she did it in the only way she knows how: “Sin pelos en la lengua” (Literal translation: With no hair in her tongue. Real translation: Like a total BOSS.)

For the full effect, you MUST watch the full video above. But, for now grab a pen and take notes. Here’s how a real Girl Boss gets the job done:

On the need for more women in politics*:
“There’s still a lot of work that need to do to create an inclusive environment in which young women would want to run, in which we are cultivating and nurturing young Latinas and women of color to consider running. We need to have government, in all aspects, to be truly reflective of the diversity that we live in this city.” [Tweet This!]

On Immigration Reform:
“I think that we have done such a disservice to this nation by not implementing comprehensive immigration reform. We’ve shortchanged the lives of many and we’re also limiting the economic potential of including […] specifically undocumented immigrants into the pool.” [Tweet This!]

On Inclusiveness:
“We should be aspiring to live in a society and in a city that is inclusive, that makes everyone feel welcome, regardless of your immigration status, regardless of your economic reality, regardless of the neighborhood you live in, etc.” [Tweet This!]

On Latino Leadership:
“We need to elect more Latinos to office, but it has to be the Latinos with the right kind of framework. It’s not just about being in the position to be in the position. It’s also about the values that that individual is bringing.”          [Tweet This!]

On Standing Up for What You Believe:
“When you’re speaking for what’s right you should never be afraid to lift your voice. […] We need to be engaged and concerned about the what is happening in our communities. We can’t leave it or expect for others to do the work for us.” [Tweet This!]

Here’s how the conversation played out, simultaneously, on Twitter (Under hashtags #LaJefa and #GirlBoss):

* NOTE: There are 51 members in the City Council, only 15 of which are women. New York City’s population of 8.4 million people is 52.3% female and 47.7% male.

April 7, 2015 • G+ Hangout: Special Interview with NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito



All over the country, Latinas are slowly but surely gaining political ground, while infusing public life with their very unique leadership styles, more inclusive perspectives and why not? That chispa that is truly all their own — even as they defy unbelievable odds on the road to political office.

My next Google hangout guest is a prime example of this: She’s a Latina who has come into national prominence for being a strong defender of her city and district, a fiercely outspoken advocate on social justice issues and, I’d venture say, the harbinger of a new era of Latino leadership in New York City politics.

As the first Latina woman elected to New York City’s second-most powerful political post — Speaker of the City Council — Melissa Mark-Viverito is also the first member of the Council’s Black, Latino and Asian Caucus to hold this position. Her rise to the top of the NYC Council, however, has not necessarily been a breezy one.

Tune in to hear Mark-Viverito’s discuss her political journey, her vision for her district, her city and the nation, and what it’s like to be a Latina #GirlBoss in the wild world of politics.

And please don’t forget to send in your questions for Madame Speaker!

January 27, 2015 • G+ Hangout: DREAMers Take All


They’ve been trampled on, disrespected, dehumanized. They’ve been called all kinds of names, arrested, deported. And through it all, their sheer energy and determination has allowed them to rise above, thrive and even influence legislation. They’re undocumented and unafraid… and they’re a force to be reckoned with. I’m talking, of course, about the DREAMers.

According to the Immigration Policy Center, there are approximately 1.8 million DREAMers in the Unted States, that is, people who were brought  to the United States as children, without documents. Now all grown up, these unbelievably resilient young men and women have become some of the loudest voices in the immigration conversation.

I will be interviewing three of the most prominent DREAM advocates: Cesar Vargas, Co-Director of the DREAM Action Coalition and a graduate from CUNY School of Law; Juan Escalante, a DREAMer and Student at Florida State University; and Erika Andiola, the amazing woman whose name is quickly becoming synonymous with the DREAMer struggle. (She’s also Co-Director of the DREAM Action Coalition).

The trio is fresh off from the Iowa Freedom Summit this past weekend, where Dream Action Coalition just had a demonstration this past weekend. They will share ALL about that experience, what it means to be treated as strangers in their only land they know, and what makes their strategies so effective in the fight for humane immigration legislation.

#ImmigrationAction G+ Hangout: Bilingual Recap and Resources • #Acción Migratoria: Resumen y Recursos Bilingües


Immigration Action Panel

Last Thursday night marked one of those moments that, years later, you remember exactly where you were when it happened. Though largely ignored by mainstream media, Latinos and other affected communities around the country were pretty much GLUED to their screens of choice to witness the historic moment when President Obama announced his decision to use his executive powers to relieve up to five million families from the threat of being separated.  Though the measure does not cover up to 7 million immigrants, it was nonetheless welcomed as the silver lining in a situation that has been long, drawn out, and tormentous at best due to Congress’ failure to pass legislation on the issue. A limited, temporary fix, the President’s policy directive  builds upon the success of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to extend temporary deportation relief and work authorization, among other benefits, to an additional number of DREAMers as well as to qualifying parents of citizen and resident children. The response from the community has been overwhelming, if not joyous. In an instant, up to five million families and their children, were given the chance to build a full, productive, decent, HUMAN life out of the shadows for themselves and their future generations. Let that sink in for a second.

At the same time, many questions remain as people scramble to understand how the details affect their personal situation, how to get ready for when the application process finally begins in the Spring of next year, and exactly what’s going to happen to the ones left behind. To answer some of the questions in everyone’s minds, I invited a group of activists and community leaders to discuss them:

They applauded the President’s move but stressed that their fight is far from over: They will not rest until Congress and the soon-to-be new Senate work to pass a permanent solution to the immigration crisis, until the 6-plus million immigrants left behind by this action can also get a chance to live a dignified life in the country they have come to love.


Below are some of the main points and resources they shared, with additional sources added for clarification. If you know of any other resources, please share in the comments!






¿Califican tus padres para el DAPA?

¿Califican tus padres para el DAPA?


  ¿Califican tus padres para el programa de Acción Diferida para Responsabilidad de los Padres (DAPA)? Para calificar, deben cumplir los siguientes requisitos:

1. Ser padres de uno o más niños que sea(n) ciudadano o residente americano y que haya(n) nacido(s) el día o antes del día 20 de noviembre de 2014

2. Los padres deberán estar en los Estados Unidos desde el 1ro de enero del 2010 o antes (al menos los últimos 5 años)

3. Estar presentes en los Estados Unidos en el momento del anuncio, el 20 de noviembre de 2014

4. No tener ningún estado migratorio en la fecha del 20 de noviembre de 2014

5. Poder pasar chequeo de seguridad y chequeo de antecedentes criminales, mostrando no tener ningún record. No pertenecer ni calificar para la categoría de deportación prioritaria*.

  Cecilia Muñoz, directora del Consejo de Política Nacional de la Casa Blanca, acaba de publicar más detalles en el blog de la Casa Blanca. Léelo en español or in English.

* Consulte con un abogado para delineaciones más detalladas sobre esta categoría



¿Cuáles DREAMers califican para la expansión de DACA?

¿Qué cambios conlleva la expansión de DACA?


   ¿Qué cambios conlleva la expansión de DACA?

1. Ya no hay límite de edad: El requisito de ser menor de 30 años para calificar ya no aplica, siempre y cuando llenes el resto de los requisitos.

2. Para calificar ahora, deberás haber vivido en los Estados Unidos por lo menos desde el 1ro de enero de 2010.

3. El permiso por DACA ahora dura unos 3 años: A partir de ahora, las personas que soliciten o renueven sus permisos de DACA lo obtendrán por una duración de tres años en vez de sólo dos.



Cómo prepararse para solicitar

Cómo prepararse para solicitar. Courtesy of United We Dream

     1. Register to receive notifications from UWD

     2. Confirm/Provide proof that you are physically in the country at the time of the announcement

     3. Be on the alert in order to avoid scams from notary publics and others who may want to take advantage of unwary people. Visit the USCIS pages on

     Avoiding Scams (in English)  y Cómo evitar estafas (en español)

     4. Get your documents together: Passports from your country of origin, any documents that confirm when you first arrived in the U.S., how long you’ve lived here, including dates along the way, etc.

     5. Start saving money: The cost of the application will be approximately $500 per person applying.



  • DCDream | DCSueño: Assistance with DACA Renewal application, DACA clinics, help for undocumented youth to access college and more
  • United We Dream: Up-to-date information, resources, DACA clinics, help with legal fees, and the DREAM Educational Empowerment Program (DEEP) and more
  • DREAMers’ Moms: Immigration Clínics to educate about immigrant rights, application process and DACA benefits
  • EstamosListos.org: A partnership between DC Dream, ALM Immigration and DREAMers’ Moms with the latest updates, DACA/DAPA clinics in Florida, New York, New Jersey, Washington DC, California, Texas and Utah
  • We Belong Together: Petitions, resources and information from a women’s priorities perspective
  • Mia – Movement of Immigrants in America: Up-to-date information, resources, comprehensive guides
  • National Bar Association: Pro bono legal services and legal orientations for immigrants

Do you know of any other resources that can be helpful for those going through this process? Please share them below!

October 27, 2014 G+ Hangout: Latino Education: Priorities & Opportunities


NEA Hangout Promo

For decades now, whenever the words ‘Latinos’ and ‘Education’ are woven together in a sentence, the information that follows is usually not the most encouraging. Latinos consistently rank lower than any other demographic when it comes to academic attainment, higher education completion, and many other outcomes. At the heart of these are factors like higher poverty rates, inequity, lack of school resources, faulty policies, and many others.

At the same time, student demographics across the country are changing at a vertiginous pace, with one-quarter (25%) of public elementary school children being Latino as of 2011. So can this the tide be turned? What’s being done to change these outcomes?

This coming week, on October the 27th at 7pm ET, I have the pleasure to welcome not one but TWO of the most eminent Latina leaders in Education in the United States.

• Lily Eskelsen-Garcia, the first Latina President of the National Education Association (NEA)
• Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative for Educational Excellence for Hispanics (WHIEEH)

We’ll be discussing how Latinos are driving the changing demographics in America and the policy and political implications of these changes on every aspect of our society. Regardless of where you fall in the education spectrum, this topic affects ALL of us and the very future of the United States.
Tune In and follow this important conversation online on hashtag #LatinoEdChat

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gfIOvKD29FA&w=560&h=315]