Sign Petition to #FreeYazmin!

Yazmin Liliana Elias Obregon (A: 076-373-569), a single mother of three U.S. citizen children, has been detained at West County Detention Center in Richmond, California for over a year. Yazmin came to the U.S. at the age of 4 and lived in Santa Rosa, California. When she was 14 years old, Yazmin entered an abusive relationship with a man who would become the father of her children. He abused her for nearly 10 years: he beat her, sexually abused her, and forced her to use drugs in an attempt to cause her to abort her pregnancies. Her ex-partner, now in Mexico, has continued to threaten Yazmin. If deported to Mexico, Yazmin fears persecution by her former partner. Yazmin also suffered abuse from a subsequent partner who physically and sexually abused her. She has a U visa pending as a result.

Yazmin was apprehended by ICE after being convicted for driving under the influence of alcohol. As a long-time survivor of severe physical violence, Yazmin coped by self-medicating her trauma. Yazmin sincerely regrets the mistakes she’s made and has taken steps to rehabilitate. Yazmin’s children motivate her to recover and become a stronger mother in order to provide for her children. Yazmin completed a 3-month inpatient program to treat her alcohol and trauma and was continuing an outpatient 6-month program when ICE detained her.

Detained, Yazmin hired an attorney, Richard L. Bobus. Mr. Bobus took advantage of Yazmin and cheated her out of $3,250, prolonged her detention, and did not do any work in her case. Mr. Bobus was unprepared at Yazmin’s immigration hearings, submitted no evidence in support of her case despite instructions by the immigration judge to do so, and failed to apply for Yazmin’s U visa and asylum applications despite her eligibility.

Prior to being detained, Yazmin was well underway to building a new life for herself and her three U.S. citizen children. She was working two jobs to support her children and was finding community at a church. Her three children- Jeremiah, Isaiah and Elijah – suffer from PTSD, ADHD, and depression. After years of improvement thanks to their treatment, Yazmin’s children are now regressing due to their suffering from their mother’s detention.

“Since my mom got detained, I have been feeling sad and it’s hard for me to focus on school. I really need for my mom to come back. Adults think I need medicine, counselors, social workers, but all I need right now is my mom.” – Yazmin’s youngest son, age 12

SIGN THE PETITION TO TELL THE SAN FRANCISCO ICE FIELD OFFICE and THE OFFICE OF CHIEF COUNSEL THAT YAZMIN DESERVES AN OPPORTUNITY TO PROVIDE A STABLE LIFE FOR HER THREE U.S. CITIZEN CHILDREN

Community Defense Workshop!

Community Defense Workshop!

Are you undocumented? Want to know what to do in case of a raid?

Join us to learn about deportation prevention & preparation tools like:

  1. In depth practice of Know Your Rights strategies
  2. Family Preparedness Preparation
  3. Access to our Migra Watch Hotline

To RSVP, send an email to Yadira Sanchez: ysanchez@ciyja.org. Limited seating is available.

Hosted by the Immigrant Liberation Movement: CIYJA, EBIYC, Faith in Action/PICO California, & Pangea Legal Services


Es usted indocumentado? Quiere saber que hacer en caso de una redada? 

Acompanamos para aprender sobre herramientas de prevencion y preparacion contra deportaciones comoe:

  1. Practica de estrategias de conoce tus derechos
  2. Preparacion de Plan Familiar
  3. Accesso a nuestra linea de respuesta rapida Migra Watch

Para registrarse, mande un mensaje a Yadira Sanchez: ysanchez@ciyja.org. Hay asientos limitados.

Patrocinado por el Movimiento de Liberacion del inmigrante: CIYJA, EBIYC, Faith in Action/PICO California, y Pangea Servicios Legales

Resisting Mass Deportation - A Community Forum

Resisting Mass Deportation - A Community Forum

No Family should be torn apart because they can't afford an attorney. Join us & learn how San Francisco can provide lawyers to help immigrants fight deportation and how YOU can help!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

5pm- 7:30pm

Koret Auditorium, San Francisco Main Library - 100 Larkin St. (enter at 30 Grove Street), SF, CA

FREE EVENT

 

Sponsors: San Francisco Public Defender's Office, Pangea Legal Services, La Raza Centro Legal, Tahirih Justice Center, Asian Law Caucus, CARECEN, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Bar Association of San Francisco, Legal Services for Children, African Advocacy Network, Dolores Street Community Services

Vigil urges ICE to free detained mom ripped from children as Christmas approaches

Media Advisory for: Thurs, Dec 22, 6:00 PM

Case of mom, a survivor of domestic violence, highlights humanity of detained immigrants, underscores need for state legislation

Previous rally for Yazmin (San Francisco, Nov. 10, 2016)

Previous rally for Yazmin (San Francisco, Nov. 10, 2016)

What: Dozens of local immigrant rights leaders and advocates against domestic violence will stage a holiday vigil urging the release of domestic violence survivor Yazmin Elias, a 34-year-old resident of Santa Rosa who has been separated from her three US citizen children for 10 months. During the rally, advocates will unveil letter to Department of Homeland Security Chief Counsel which rebukes the courtroom conduct of a DHS attorney who re-victimized Yazmin on the stand last month.

When: Thursday, December 22rd, 2016 at 6:00 PM

Where: Immigration Customs Enforcement Field Office, 630 Sansome Street. San Francisco, CA

Who: Yazmin Elias’ family, local immigrants rights leaders and advocates against domestic violence.

Visuals: Rally Participants will display poster images of Yazmin that read “#FreeYazmin” and banners displaying #FreeYazmin will be presented.

San Francisco, CA-The story of Yazmin, a single mother of three US citizen children and a domestic violence survivor, highlights the humanity of community members who have received convictions and have been targeted for deportation. As we approach the holiday season Yazmin’s sons will spend another holiday apart from their mother. With Trump about to take over and expand the Obama administration’s painful deportation machinery, community groups are fighting to defend people like Yazmin - and point to new legislation in Sacramento that would uphold due process and protect against abuses.  

Yazmin’s story: Yazmin has been in ICE custody for the past 10 months separated from her three children: Elijah-17, Isaiah-14 and Jeremiah- 13 who are suffering from depression, PTSD and ADHD. From a young age Yazmin endured constant physical violence, dating back to her childhood, and her prime coping mechanism to survive her trauma has been self-medication. On August 2015, Yazmin was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. Since then, Yazmin has completed a 3-month residential program where she learned to rehabilitate. Yazmin is applying for asylum and a U visa which would enable her to truly recover from over 10 years of abuse; her current detention is re-traumatizing her and preventing her from recovering.

Courtroom controversy. On November 10, 2016 community advocates, and social workers were shocked to witness the blame-the-victim narrative that a DHS attorney pursued during Yamin’ bond hearing. As a result, community advocates against domestic violence and immigrants rights leaders are also delivering a letter to DHS Chief Counsel Ms. Leslie Ungerman. Advocates hope to address the re-traumatizing experience Yazmin had to undergo through the inhumane court process and request Yazmin’s reunification with her children for Christmas.

The need for state legislation. Yazmin’s experiences also highlight the importance of key bills moving forward in Sacramento that uphold the values of due process and inclusion. The local jail turned her over to ICE for deportation; SB 54, the CA Values Act, would make sure local resources aren't used to fuel the deportation of people like Yazmin and countless others at risk from Trump’s threats.

Yazmin’s story exemplifies the ongoing criminalization of domestic violence survivors who need rehabilitation, not incarceration. In the face of a new administration community members will stand united for immigrant justice and for the prompt liberation of loved ones who have been torn apart from their families.

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Pangea Paves Response with Community Organizations, Public Defender, and Sup. Campos

Please join the community as we propose a plan to respond to the attack on immigrants. San Francisco to introduce a program for access to counsel, education, and outreach for immigrants.

Where: Steps of City Hall, San Francisco

When: Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016 

Time: 12pm 

Who: Pangea Legal Services, Dolores Street Community Services, SF Public Defender, Supervisor David Campos, Supervisor John Avalos, Impacted Community Members

SF Chronicle Op-Ed on Ending Deportations by Pangea Executive Director, Niloufar Khonsari

Available here: http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/It-will-take-a-village-to-end-deportations-10629264.php

It will take a village to end deportations

Niloufar Khonsari, November 21, 2016

President-elect Donald Trump has threatened to detain and deport millions of immigrant families. Yet the United States has already hit record numbers of detentions and deportations in the past few years. In California, there is a growing movement to create access to legal counsel for immigrants in detention. However, legal advocacy in the courtroom is not sufficient. Trump’s election underscores the fact that our strategy must extend beyond the courtroom and include politically empowering our clients and their families. Immigration attorneys like myself must actively connect our work with grassroots groups, public campaigns and community organizing. 

Take the case of my former client Jesus Ruiz Diego. His parents brought him to the United States when he was 4 years old. When Diego was 11, a judge ordered him and his family deported.

Diego had no idea. He grew up attending elementary, middle and high school in San Jose. Based on that decade-old order, immigration officials raided Diego’s house when he was 22 and deported him from the country. 

They tried to deport him a second time after he returned, and Diego was detained. The legal scenario for him was grim. But thanks to grassroots advocacy, including thousands of petition signatures, vocal support from undocumented immigrants, multiple rallies, media campaigns and outreach to legislators, Diego was liberated from detention and later obtained relief from deportation. 

This experience transformed Diego — a former sheet-metal worker — into a community organizer. The key in Diego’s case was not only winning his legal case, but also building political consciousness and connecting him to a long-term political movement.

We need to build community-led deportation defense models that place directly affected communities at the center of their self-defense and advocacy. 

California already has programs that provide representation to immigrants who are not detained but are in removal proceedings in the immigration court. Efforts to create representation programs for immigrants in detention are also emerging in San Francisco, Santa Clara, Los Angeles and statewide.

California’s new programs could be modeled on the successful New York Immigrant Family Unity Project, the first comprehensive program in the country to provide free legal representation to detained immigrants. However, as we build models in California, especially for detained immigrants, we must never lose sight of our goal to end deportations altogether. We need to work with grassroots partners, directly mobilize and work toward the endgame.

Time is of the essence. Attorneys must start connecting their work and clients to a broader movement against detention and deportation. And those of us concerned about Trump’s assault on the most vulnerable must take part in this movement by showing up. 

We must sign petitions, donate what we can and show up to the very rallies that helped keep Diego in this country. Together, we must organize, mobilize and protest detentions and deportations. 

Niloufar Khonsari is an immigration attorney and executive director of Pangea Legal Services, a nonprofit organization in San Francisco and Santa Clara counties.

Media Advisory: Local Immigrants Respond to Trump Victory by Ascending Vigorously Against Mass Deportation

Media Advisory: Local Immigrants Respond to Trump Victory by Ascending Vigorously Against Mass Deportation

Immigrants Pack Courtroom Demanding Release of Domestic Violence Survivor and Asylum Seeker Facing Deportation

Contact: Blanca Vazquez blanca@theiyc.org (916)225-1664, Luis Angel Reyes Savalza, Pangea Legal Services (415)254-0475

2016.11.09 #FreeYazmin.jpg

What: Dozens of local  immigrant rights leaders  and advocates against domestic violence come together to support immigrant mother, Yazmin Elias, facing deportation with press conference in response to contentious presidential election where Trump is elected President.

When: Thursday November 10th at 11:30am

Where: Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) Field Office, 630 Sansome Street. San Francisco, CA

Who: Yazmin Elias’ family, local immigrants rights leaders and advocates against domestic violence including Immigrant Youth Coalition, Mujeres Unidas y Activas, and Pangea Legal Services.

Visuals: Rally Participants will display poster images of Yazmin that read “#FreeYazmin” and banners displaying #FreeYazmin will be presented.

San Francisco, CA- Local immigrants rights activists vigorously rally against family separation and deportation after Trump is elected President, a man who has vowed to massively deport immigrants. Community advocates against domestic violence and immigrants rights leaders are also packing local immigration courtroom to show support for Yazmin Liliana Elias in her last bond hearing in immigration court. Yazmin is a single mother of three US citizen children and a domestic violence survivor. She has been in ICE custody for the past 9 months separated from her three children: Elijah-17, Isaiah-14 and Jeremiah- 13. who are suffering from depression, PTSD and ADHD. From a young age Yazmin endured constant physical violence, dating back to her childhood, and her prime coping mechanism to survive her trauma has been self-medication.

On August 2015, Yazmin was cited for driving under the influence of alcohol. Since then, Yazmin has completed a 3-month residential program where she learned to rehabilitate. Yazmin has began to break the cycle of violence, but instead of allowing her to rehabilitate, ICE has detained her and placed her in deportation proceedings. Yazmin is applying for asylum and a U visa which would enable her to truly recover from over 10 years of abuse; her current detention is re-traumatizing her and preventing her from recovering.

Yazmin exemplifies the ongoing criminalization of domestic violence survivors who need rehabilitation, not incarceration. Her current detention is a testament to the inflexibility of the immigration system to address the needs of those who have suffered emotional and physical abuse. Furthermore, her story is a prime example of the threat millions of immigrant communities have faced for years and the rise of Trump as president only entails the rise of  the power immigrant communities hold to continue resisting to exist.

From Immigration Detention to Asylum Proceedings in the San Francisco Immigration Court

From Immigration Detention to Asylum Proceedings in the San Francisco Immigration Court

In order to escape severe violence and possible death in Guatemala, Roxana had to leave her little daughter behind.  Upon arrival in the United States, she was first held in a hielera and then in immigration detention for three months.  Now, even with the help of her attorney, and moving her case along as quickly as possible, Roxana will have to wait over three years for a chance to present her asylum case in immigration court. Watch the video above to get a glimpse of what an asylum seeker in immigration court proceedings goes through.

USCIS: Grant Lizbeth Mateo DACA!

USCIS: Grant Lizbeth Mateo DACA!

Academic, community leaders speak out

What: News conference to urge the Obama administration to grant DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) to immigrant rights activist Lizbeth Mateo.  Lizbeth grew up in Los Angeles as has played a pivotal role in the fight for immigrant rights over the last decade. Ironically, the Obama administration is seeking to deny her some of the very protections she helped to create, but Mateo and supporters are determined not to be intimidated or silenced.

Department of Homeland Security officials recently issued Lizbeth a second tentative denial of DACA based on a brief absence from the US in 2013, despite their clear discretion. Mateo's attorney, Luis Angel Reyes Savalza of San Francisco-based Pangea Legal Services, who is himself a recipient of DACA, filed an appeal Tuesday. Meanwhile, last week, in a similar case, an immigrant youth leader in Chicago won DACA after suing the federal government for retaliation. 

A petition in support of Lizbeth has picked up 2,200 signatures in just over a week,  over 200 academic professionals and attorneys have signed a letter asking USCIS to exercise discretion, and Members of Congress have written letters of support for Lizbeth. 

When: 12:00 PM, Monday, October 17

Where: UCLA Downtown Labor Center, 675 S Park View St, Los Angeles

Who: Speakers include

  • Lizbeth Mateo
  • Kent Wong, Director of the UCLA Labor Center
  • Yolozee Odilia Romero Xhogosh, Vice General Coordinator Frente Indgena de Organizaciones Binacionales (FIOB) 
  • Chris Newman, Legal Director, National Day Labor Organizing Network 

Media visuals: supporters will host a national call-in day to DHS - images of activists making phone calls

Lizbeth's activism has helped break barriers and expose the injustices that millions of families divided by harsh immigration policies have suffered. Her activism  was central to the implementation of DACA in 2012. In July 2013, she briefly traveled to Mexico to visit her ailing grandfather. Two weeks later, she returned to the U.S. with eight other immigrant youth leaders, together known as the "Dream 9" or the "bring them home" campaign. In a historic and ground-breaking action, the group turned themselves in to border patrol and were later freed. The "bring them home" campaign was a catalyst for DAPA. Later that year, Lizbeth entered law school at Santa Clara University. She then played a crucial role in securing the passage of California's AB 60, which has allowed nearly 800,000 undocumented Californians to become licensed drivers. 

Additional background: Lizbeth moved to the United States with her family when she was 14 years old and grew up in the Los Angeles area. The first in her family to graduate high school and attend college, Lizbeth became involved in the immigrant youth movement in 2003. She helped lead the fight for the federal Dream Act, organizing thousands of undocumented immigrant youth, advocating with legislators, and co-founding the National Immigrant Youth Alliance. 

Lizbeth's visit to Mexico came after both of her paternal grandparents had died. Like millions of immigrants, she endured the heartbreaking experience of missing her grandparents' funerals. She was determined to see her other loved ones before they passed away as well. Lizbeth's visit to Mexico was also part of the first transnational campaign to reunite deported immigrant youth and families with their loved ones in the US.

Lizbeth graduated from Santa Clara University in May with several awards and honors and returned to Los Angeles. She will take the California Bar exam in February [Clarification].  While US Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS), a branch of DHS, has cited Lizbeth's 13-day visit to Mexico as the reason for intending to deny her DACA, the fact is the agency has used its discretion to approve many cases involving a departure or other issues.  With DACA, Lizbeth would be able to more fully make use of her law degree and serve the community. 

Ensuring DACA's most equitable implementation is an important part of the fight for immigrant rights, hand-in-hand with calls for the President to halt deportations entirely.