Things That Matter

She Went Viral For Showing That Undocumented People Pay Taxes, Now She’s On Sanders’ Campaign

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has added a new face to his 2020 campaign team in Belén Sisa. The addition is notable because Sisa made national headlines when she posted a selfie showing the undocumented people pay taxes. Sisa part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Her protected status is reportedly set to expire this year which could create some unwanted attention for her and Sanders.

Sisa has frequently spoken out about DACA and other issues important to the immigrant community which, at times, has gotten her in trouble.

Credit: @belensisaw/Twitter

Sisa wrote about the news on Facebook recognizing the importance of her position and the path it took to get there. For an undocumented person to be working on a political campaign is something that doesn’t happen often.

“This is really emotional for me. I can’t help but think of 18-year-old Belén, who felt hopeless and powerless to the anti-immigrant attacks and policies that were holding her back from her dreams,” Sisa wrote in a now deleted Facebook post.  

Sisa, who is is from Buenos Aires, Argentina and lives in Phoenix, Arizona, is a huge advocate for immigration rights. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2018 where Sisa was vocal about DACA and abolishing ICE. Sisa was even arrested twice for participating in various protests.

Sisa isn’t a stranger to working on Sanders’ campagins.

While the appointment of deputy press secretary is new, Sisa has previously worked for Sanders. In 2016, she worked as a page to the Arizona delegation at the Democratic National Convention and in Latino outreach for Sanders’ 2016 campaign. The appointment is also indicative of Sanders pro-DACA platform that has become one of his notable campaign rallying cries. Sisa

Sisa has been a vocal and visual activist for undocumented and DACA people like herself.

Credit:Belen Sisa/Facebook

The 25-year-old gained national attention in 2017 when a photo of her paying taxes in an effort to counter stereotypes of immigrants went viral. Sisa tried reminding people that many undocumented immigrants are not just taking from the country, but making noticeable contributions.

At the time she wrote on Facebook about her experience and the importance of immigrants in the country.

“So here I go again.. #2017 tax forms in hand: MYTH BUSTER: I, an undocumented immigrant, just filed my federal and state taxes in the state of Arizona. In fact, I pay sales tax and every other kind of tax you can think of. I cannot receive financial aid from the state or federal government for school, I cannot benefit from unemployment, a reduced healthcare plan, or a retirement fund. I think I’m a pretty good citizen. Oh and there are MILLIONS just like me who pay into a system they will never receive anything from. Wanna tell me again how I should be deported, contribute nothing and only leech off this country while the 1% wealthiest people in this country steal from you everyday? How about you show me yours President Donald J. Trump? #HereToStay. #UndocumentedUnafraid.”

It’s unclear what will happen when Sisa’s DACA status expires by the end of this year.

While her current role is clear, it’s important to note that Sisa’s DACA status will be expiring this year. That might cause some unwanted attention for the Sanders campaign and Sisa herself.

But if it’s any indication of Sisa, she has shown she is not afraid to voice her views and stand up for what she believes in. All that matters for her right now is being in a position she and previous generations had to fight for her to be in.

“I can’t help but think of the generations of sacrifice my family has had to do for me to get here,” Sisa said in her announcement post. “Never in our wildest dreams did we think I’d be making moves like these.”

READ: Here’s What ICE Is Saying About The Arrest Of 23-Year-Old Mexican DACA Recipient

Thousands Of People Gathered At An East LA High School To Show Their Support For Bernie Sanders

Things That Matter

Thousands Of People Gathered At An East LA High School To Show Their Support For Bernie Sanders

Javier Rojas / mitú

The latest stop on the Bernie Sanders 2020 campaign trail hit East Los Angeles this past Saturday where a rally was held with efforts to mobilize voters in the predominantly Latino community. An estimated crowd of over 5,200 people showed up to  Woodrow Wilson High School in El Sereno to cheer on the Vermont senator. 

Signs that read “Bernie” and “Unidos con Bernie” could be seen well into the flock of supporters that chanted his name all afternoon. Before Sanders took the stage, supporters were energized by a performance Ozomatli, an East LA-based Latin rock band, who endorsed the senator just like they previously did in 2016. The energy of the crowd hit a peak point when Sanders emerged to take the stage and a booming “Bernie” chant took over the rally. 

Sanders took the stage addressing issues like education reform, leveling inequality and recent hot button issues like gun control. 

“Gun policy in this country, under my administration, will not be determined by the NRA,” Sanders told the crowd. “It will be determined by the American people and the American people want is common-sense gun safety legislation now.”

Bernie Sanders struck a chord with Latinos in California, particularly in East LA, where his campaign team debuted its first California office. As it stands, 34 percent of likely Democratic Latino voters under 30 support Sanders in his presidential run. 

Credit: Javier Rojas / mitú

The economy, healthcare and education are some of the biggest issues to Latino voters and Sanders has made efforts to make those some of his key campaign focal points. His campaign has resonated with more Latino voters in California than any other Democratic candidate. According to a recent poll by Latino Community Foundation, 31 percent of Latino voters would vote for Sanders, beating former Vice President Joe Biden, polling at 22 percent; Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, polling at 11 percent, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, polling 9 percent.

When it comes to donating to his campaign, Latino voters have also been there for Sanders. From January to July, the Sanders team brought in an estimated $4.7 million from Latinos through the online fundraising platform ActBlue. His grassroots support from his previous 2016 run has seemed to follow into the 2020 election race with many young voters leading the way. 

“There’s lots of Latinos in California, there’s lots of working-class young people, and working-class voters and lots of folks who have a history of standing up against power,” Chuck Rocha, a senior adviser with the Sanders campaign, told the LA Times. “Bernie Sanders is their candidate, and all we have to do is give them the tools to be reminded of when to vote and where he stands on the issues and they will show up.”

On Saturday, many of those young voters voiced their support for Sanders and his campaign that touched on many vital issues that Latinos say matter to them. 

Credit: Javier Rojas / mitú

Fernando Salas, 19, lives in nearby Boyle Heights and has been a Sanders fan before he could even cast a vote back in 2016. He says that Sanders became popular among him and his friends during high school because of his proposed policies on the environment and tuition-free public college.

“I couldn’t even vote when I first heard of Bernie but I knew he was my guy right away,” Salas says as he holds up a “Viva Bernie” sign. “He cares about issues that my friends and I are talking about so why not Bernie.”

Sanders received loud applause at the rally when raising issues like education reform, canceling student debt, tuition-free public colleges and raising teachers’ wages.

“I will make sure that every teacher in America earns at least $60,000 because I believe in human rights,” Sanders said. “We believe that everybody, regardless of their income and background, has the right to get a higher education.”

If Sanders is going to win the Democratic nomination, he’s going to most likely have to win the Latino vote as well. 

Credit: Javier Rojas / mitú

For years, many political pundits have pointed toward the growing U.S. Latino population as a deciding force when it comes to voting power. This upcoming election will be a test of that power as Latinos are expected to be the largest minority voting group, exceeding Black voters for the first time ever. 

The Sanders campaign has done its work when it comes to winning this ever-important demographic group. Whether its hiring Latino workers as part of his campaign team or putting forth comprehensive immigration plans that address issues like DACA, Sanders has touched on all the right buttons for a large portion of Latino voters.

Salas says at the heart of the Sanders campaign is to help the “little people” in this country and he feels that he can deliver on that. 

“He’s been fighting this fight for many years now and I feel that after 2016, this is his time,” Salas says with hope.

READ: Despite A New Law, Some New York County Clerks Say They’ll Refuse To Give Undocumented Residents Driver’s Licenses

The Trump Administration Is Proposing Raising Application Costs For DACA Recipients And Charging For Asylum Applications

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The Trump Administration Is Proposing Raising Application Costs For DACA Recipients And Charging For Asylum Applications

U.S. National Archives / Flickr

There is tough news out of Washington this week that could make chasing the American Dream cost a lot more. According to a report published on Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security is proposing raising a range of fees for those seeking legal immigration and citizenship, as well as an increase in Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) renewal fees. There would also a proposed charge for asylum applications, which would charge $50 for applications and $490 for work permits. As of now, only Fiji, Australia and Iran currently do this for asylum applications. 

The price hikes would make the cost of citizenship applications go up by 83 percent, from $640 to $1,170. This would primarily affect roughly 9 million immigrants that are eligible to become U.S. citizens. DACA fees would also see a substantial rise as they would increase from $495 to $765. News of this fee hike comes in the same week that the Supreme Court heard arguments on the validity of President Trump’s justification to terminate DACA.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the “current fees do not recover the full costs of providing adjudication and naturalization services.” The last time this such fee schedule was adjusted was at the end of 2016.

Credit: The Washington Post

The reasoning for the proposed price hikes and new fees is to help cover new expenses at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Ken Cuccinelli, acting director of USCIS, said that this will help the agency cover new costs in the last few years due to an increase in citizenship applications. 

“USCIS is required to examine incoming and outgoing expenditures, just like a business, and make adjustments based on that analysis. This proposed adjustment in fees would ensure more applicants cover the true cost of their applications and minimize subsidies from an already over-extended system,” Cuccinelli said in a press release. “Furthermore, the adjudication of immigration applications and petitions requires in-depth screening, incurring costs that must be covered by the agency, and this proposal accounts for our operational needs and better aligns our fee schedule with the costs of processing each request.”    

As of now, the agency will have a period of 30 days to receive public opinion, as established by law. The plan then is expected to go into effect Dec. 2, while the comment period will remain open until Dec. 16. 

Credit: @nytimes / Twitter

After the comment period ends next month, USCIS is then obligated by law to consider comments on the proposal before any of the new fees can put forward. This time period is key for millions of immigrants that are eligible to naturalize and become U.S. citizens before such fees rise. Immigration advocacy groups are calling forward to those groups as they may have only a few weeks before these price hikes go into effect. 

“If you were lacking motivation before, it’s now even more important because this outrageous rule aims to price out low-income and working-class immigrants from U.S. citizenship and so many other immigration benefits,” Diego Iñiguez-López, NPNA’s policy and campaigns manager, said in a statement to NBC News. 

These proposed price hikes come at a time when the overall percentage of lawful immigrants living in the country that are willfully applying for and gaining citizenship has reached its highest level in more than 20 years. That can’t be said for Mexican Americans who fall behind other groups when it comes to naturalization rates. This is also despite being the biggest group of lawful immigrants in terms of country of origin. 

“This is one more way under the administration that they are making legal immigration unattainable,” Ur Jaddou, former chief counsel at USCIS under the Obama administration, told Buzzfeed News.

Advocacy groups call the price hikes an attempt to further hurt those with already limited resources.  

Credit: @ken_crichlow / Twitter

Boundless, an immigration services firm, called the proposed price hike another blow to immigrants trying to come into the U.S. The firm says that increased fees target the poor and those in vulnerable positions by pricing them out of citizenship.

“Once again, this administration is attempting to use every tool at its disposal to restrict legal immigration and even U.S. citizenship,” said Doug Rand, the group’s co-founder, told the Washington Post .“It’s an unprecedented weaponization of government fees.”

READ: Mexico Has Made It Illegal To Buy And Sell Moss: What Will Your Tías Use For Their Nacimientos Now?