By Thuy Hang Tran
On Thursday March 27 Luis Serrano, the Social Media Communications Coordinator for California Immigrant Youth Justice Alliance (CIYJA) gave a lecture on foreign and domes-tic policies that impacted migration in Latin American countries and communities in the U.S. Serrano is a community activist living in Los Angeles who organizes to stop unjust deportation and separation of families. Through activism and social media, he promotes the understanding of adversities undocumented people face through the U.S. and the need for change in both U.S. policies on immigration and foreign policies. Serrano, an undocumented immigrant, brought his own experience to view in this lecture as he stated his reasons for his involvement in Migrant Rights activism. He started off with a personal life story in which he came to the U.S. unlawfully from Mexico in 1995 as a result of the NAFTA, the free trade agreement between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, which consequently pushed for local businesses in Mexico to be out of business.
While living in the U.S., he experienced many injustices due to his unlawful presence. He dropped out of high school, got a GED, and he pursued his passion in activism without fitting into the “model minority” image. During the talk Serrano addressed how certain domestic policies, such as the proposed Comprehensive Immigration Reform (CIR) or the currently signed executive action Deferred Action For Parent Arrivals (DAPA), are placed in order to make the exploitation caused by foreign policies flow smoothly. His argument was that the current presence of undocumented immigrants is caused by political and economic motives of the U.S. government and that the borders should be eradicated. He pointed out that the system was not broken, but was not constructed properly in the first place. Furthermore, Serrano gave insight into how communities suffer against various forms of oppression, including deportations and mass incarceration, restrictions on higher education, and the large amount of deaths caused by border militarization.
Although immigration is not a new topic, it is rarely presented through the points of view of current undocumented people in the U.S. It is evident to the audience that Serrano, a self-declared Leftist, is an individual driven by personal experience and an advocate for radical change. As it is his first time speaking at a University, Serrano was unique in that his thoughts were not filtered. There were moments in which he became emotional, sarcastic, and other moments in which he delivered unexpected, yet fresh, jokes, which complemented the gravity of the topic. Students with migrant parents, students who are undocumented, and students who are interested in broadening their understanding of cultural and its development in the U.S. appreciated this lecture.