El pueblo unido, Jamas será vencido! Ang tao ang bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban! The people united, will never be defeated!
May 15th, 2017 was the 21st Annual Immigrant Day. The SDIRC delegation of 33 San Diego leaders successfully met with all 11 assembly members and senators who represent a piece or region of San Diego County.
The day was kicked off with a rally and program of speakers to ground all participating organizations and individuals for the day ahead. There was a variety of speakers from all over the state who stood in front of the hundreds to speak their truth. The speakers ranged from faith leaders, community leaders and organizational representatives who shared stories, either their own or of the communities they work with. They spoke about the importance of building and maintaining a united front on the issues that affect all of us, especially considering the targeted threats under the Trump administration.
During our time at the state’s capitol, we had the opportunity to get to know, learn from and interview Said Abiyow, current President and CEO of the Somali Bantu Association of America, now a member organization of SDIRC. Below are his responses and impressions as a first time participant in Immigrant Day.
Q: Can you tell us about who you are, what organization you work for and the work that your organization does?
A: My name is Said Abiyow and I am the President and CEO of the Somali Bantu Association of America, located in the heart of City Heights in San Diego. We have existed for over seven years and through our organization we help refugees from many nationalities. In particular we help and support Somali immigrants with information about employment, youth programs, English as a Second Language classes and Citizenship/Naturalization classes.
Q: Why did you did decide to join this year’s San Diego Immigrant Rights Consortium (SDIRC) Immigrant Day 2017 delegation?
A: The reason why I joined is because I am one of the primary leaders from our community and our communities have been experiencing a lot of challenges since the Executive Order travel ban was issued. There’s also a lot of immigration asylum issues that happen in our community. Because of these needs in our community I want to get more experience to learn about the immigration laws that are being pushed at the state level and how they can affect us in the City of San Diego. One priority budget item that I’m really looking forward to if it passes is the budget package, in particular the Due Process and Legal Defense Fund piece of it because it would really benefit many from our community.
Q: What did you learn from participating at this year’s Immigrant Day?
A: I have learned a lot today because the Assembly Members (Todd Gloria: 78th District, Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher: 80th District) and Senator (Ben Hueso: 40th District) that our group met with today were very supportive. They want to support this year’s priorities and not to ignore us but instead, to make sure our communities are not left behind. They are standing with us and we will definitely continue working with them to make sure these bills and budget priorities successfully pass.
Q: What impact do you hope Immigrant Day 2017 will have?
A: I hope that Immigrant Day will be a day of success. What I’m hoping is that it will be a very good day with much impact and success based on this year’s program and through the legislative visits we made today.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to add that I didn't ask or that relates to what we've been talking about?
A: I was very happy and excited at the idea of being part of this delegation. We definitely want our organizational and community voices to be present here, to be heard and I want to make sure that there are more opportunities for others to come to Sacramento, to support Immigrant Day and have the opportunity to meet with elected representatives and I will gladly come again anytime there is an Immigrant Day.