By Paul Yumbla

Scouring the Internet for more personal and compelling tales about immigration reform than simply hearing the argument conveyed through a speechwriter I stumbled upon the following image.

(Source: Scott Olson/Getty Images North America)

The above photograph is of undocumented immigrant Guillermo Campos-Ojeda as he says goodbye to his wife and young daughter before boarding a deportation flight chartered by U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement. I include this tragic image for two reasons. The first is the obvious notion that more people need to see this. The second is the personal element conveyed in this photograph that does more than tug the heartstrings. Images, personal turmoil, and witnessing a family disaster like this allows for this country's broken immigration system to be seen through a different light. It’s something else to see the face of deportation rather than hearing arguments about immigration control come from politicians. These are real people, many of them extremely hard-working and willing to sacrifice a tremendous amount to not only put food on the table but offer their children a brighter future. Many of them are locked away for no other reason but being here illegally, jailed up with all sorts of convicts.


My thoughts on education and its state of disarray

By Paul Yumbla.
(photo from the Precious Knowledge Film website)

At the Latin American Studies center at the University of Connecticut where the movie “Precious Knowledge” was screened earlier this week, I had the opportunity to connect with Latino students, as well as getting the chance to meet with Teach for America. This film shed light onto the racial tensions surrounding the Tucson community before, during, and after the removal of Ethnic/Raza studies in public high schools. This helped put unfortunate situations such as this Arizona controversy into perspective. There are teachers that are trying to operate under a regime that serves the very few and often from a very specific zip code.

I recommend this film for anyone interested in hearing the voice of those criticized for attempting to see where they fit in. As a future teacher, this strikes a chord with me. It drives forward my ambition to make social change in any way. I am a teacher.  I would love to be able to teach.  Just teach. Not document every sentence, jump through a different hoop every year, justify my existence, or give endless standardized tests.
I want to be able to teach, encourage and inspire. To help each child discover his/her own strengths. To challenge children's minds and help them develop essential skills. To create thinkers. I would love to be able to teach. I bring experience from my early age to any conversation, debate, and discussion revolving around education. 


Join an Immigration Reform Event Near You!

Now is the time to keep the pressure on for comprehensive immigration reform with a path to citizenship for all and to end our senseless militarization of immigration enforcement. Check here for a listing of October 5 events near you: October Immigration. October 5 is the National Day for Dignity and Respect/Dia Nacional Dignidad y Respeto.


One thing that comes with a life that forces an individual into the shadows is uncertainty. Not knowing when you will see the family you left back home. Lying awake wondering whether or not you can find employment. It affects those that left a life behind to better themselves and help their families.

I have an uncle that had been granted a green card in 2000. His brother applied for both him and his wife, my aunt. Two weeks ago they received their green card in the mail. That's thirteen years without seeing the two children they left behind in Ecuador. Now twenty-six and twenty-two, they can no longer be called children, but have become adults, leaving their parents to see their growth through a computer screen. This summer they finally have the chance to see their parents without the help of Skype.

For the whole process to take this long is an embarrassing way to implement this broken immigration system people’s lives. It goes beyond legislation and stems from xenophobia and a ‘they took our jobs’ mentality. If someone doesn’t commit any crimes, works hard, pays taxes (which undocumented immigrants do), conforms to the social mores of a society, how can they be viewed as harmful members of this great nation. The United States doesn’t have a very socially lenient welfare or healthcare policy that they need to protect. 

It just confuses me that because of the physical land you happen to be born on you are somehow entitled to something that others get stripped from. Reading articles and skimming scathing comments from anti-immigrant commenter’s condemning undocumented students and workers I feel like there is a sort of ‘they deserve it’ kind of attitude. A feeling directed towards those trying to pursue the elusive American dream. We forget that we are all human beings. Just because some are from Venezuela, China, or whichever country they left in hopes of finding solace in the land of the free doesn’t mean an oppressive government should greet them. ~ Paul Yumbla


With the immigration reform bill moving on to the House of Representatives, public officials now take on the task of deciding what route to take on this controversial issue. Not many can disagree with the fact that something must be done to fix America's broken immigration system. After moving through the Senate, the House GOP must now deal with immigration reform in a way that reaches out to Latino, Hispanic and immigrant voters as well as attempting to satisfy their (predominantly Anglo) base. Where the situation becomes tricky is in determining a viable reform that removes the hardship and pain embedded in a life of not having documentation. ~Paul Yumbla


HVCC welcomes Paul Yumbla to our blog. Paul is a summer intern for HVCC and will be sharing some of his reflections on our website. ~Betsy Palmieri

Being conscious of the sacrifices my immigrant parents have made adds weight to the pressure to not only push forward but to do so in a manner that enriches the lives of those we love. I am writing this blog post in hopes that other 'dreamers' step out from the shadows and call attention to the unfair circumstances many have been put in. I am a twenty year old rising senior at the University of Connecticut studying English and Digital Arts. I am a writer, a DREAM act recipient, and an intern at Hudson Valley Community Coalition. ~ Paul Yumbla



Promueven conciencia ciudadana para lograr apoyo masivo para la reforma

Es momento de unirnos. Únete a la Campaña para los New Yorkers para Reforma Migratoria. Lea acerca de algunos esfuerzos locales. "Campaña local por la reforma migratoria" en el periódico Westchester Hispano:


Who Can You Trust?

With so many announcements and changes in immigration laws and policies taking place now and to come this year, where can a person find good advice?  Can an immigration consultant (a "notario") give me advice? What about a notary public? Or my friend's brother who is a divorce lawyer?

Immigration law is one of the most complicated fields of law out there, second only to tax law. There are well-meaning people who may try to give you or sell you advice about getting a green card, or "fixing" some other immigration issue.  Do not be a victim. Unless the person is a qualified immigration lawyer, their advice can be extremely dangerous, and can prevent you from ever obtaining papers.

The American Immigration Lawyers Association "Immigration Lawyer Search" web page is a great place to start when you're looking for good advice.  There are also nonprofit organizations in the Hudson Valley and New York City that can provide low cost immigration legal assistance. Check our "Links" page for more information, or visit this page of the New York Immigration Coalition: 


Free Citizenship Test Preparation

Westchester Community College and the White Plains Public Library are offering a free workshop on Saturday, February 16th, from 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm. This workshop, presented by Westchester Community College’s Welcome Center, will provide an overview of the structure and content of the U.S. Citizenship exam.  It will also include an overview of the free test preparation materials that are available to the public. Participants will become familiar with the civics and English portions of the exam and will do some practice for both sections. The workshop is designed both for those who have already applied for U.S. citizenship and for those who are planning to do so in the future.

For more information, please call (914)606-5626. No advance registration required.
The workshop will take place in the White Plains Public Library, Room A, on
100 Martine Ave., White Plains, NY 10601.  It is free and open to the public.