Help Save Romo's Caffe

Romo’s Caffe from Natalie Rodriguez on Vimeo.

Laura Hernandez from Lagos de Moreno, Jalisco, Mexico, crossed the border by walking at the age of 12. She is a hard working woman who with the help of her girlfriend Allison Downs, and her two sons, Adan and Mario Jimenez has established a coffee stand, Romo’s Caffe, at the Laney College Flea Market in Oakland, Calif. On Sunday, March 30, 2014, their trailer with all of their supplies and materials was stolen outside of their apartment building. This is Laura’s story.

For more information on how you can help Laura and her family save Romo’s Caffe visit:

Is Justin Bieber An Example of Immigration Laws that “Discriminate”?

Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber has recently drawn attention to himself due to an arrest and release in Miami Beach, Fla. While fans pledge their unconditional support, others have created petitions urging the Obama administration to deport Bieber. Still others urge the attention to be shifted from the celebrity to other immigrants who face deportation due to “lesser offences.” In this podcast immigration attorney Paula Joachin who practices law in the city of San Diego, Calif., explains why this celebrity case is an example of what Milli Atkinson of Centro de Ayuda Legal Para Inmigrantes referred to as laws that “are written to really discriminate against Mexico and Central America,” in October of 2013 as a part of The Conversation on Immigration Reform.

On Sunday, January 23, 2014, Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber was arrested on charges of driving under the influence, resisting arrest without violence and driving with an expired driver’s license in Miami Beach, Fla. Since the day of his arrest, several petitions have been created on the website We the People seeking supporting signatures in a petition to the Obama Administration asking to both deport and protect Bieber from deportation.

One petition in particular seeks to “Deport Justin Bieber and revoke his green card” on the grounds that “he is not only threatening the safety of our people but he is also a terrible influence on our nations youth.” The goal of the petition was to receive 100,000 signatures, as of Wednesday, January 29, 2014; the petition had 170, 973 supporting signatures.

The American Civil Liberties Union has published a brief article titled “What Justin Bieber’s Arrest Would Mean for Another Non-Citizen.” Through this article, they urge readers that “While the media is focused on what will happen to Bieber, let’s instead focus on what will happen to all of the other immigrants who are detained and deported for lesser offenses than his.” According to Joachin during the Obama administration, the amount of immigrants who have been put into detention for being undocumented, without a prior history of violation of laws, “sky rocketed.”

Joachin remains hopeful that a “comprehensive and holistic” immigration reform will pass. “We want the legalization of the people who are already here, whose only offense is a civil one, and that is entering the U.S. without ‘proper documents.’”

The Desert Angels

The Desert Angels are a non-profit, humanitarian group of volunteers, based out of San Diego, Calif. They conduct search and rescue missions of lost people in the desert areas near the United States and Mexico border. Rafael Larraenza is the organization’s director. He has helped in not only finding undocumented immigrants who become lost in their journey to the United States, but also in recovering bodies of those who have lost their lives along the way.

More from Larraenza on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in regards to the proposed immigration reform.

Tu Tienda Azteca: Giving the Fruitvale Community More than Art


Tu Tienda Azteca is located at 3104 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, Calif. 94602. Art work as seen on Sunday, November 3, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez).

Tu Tienda Azteca is located at 3104 Fruitvale Ave., Oakland, Calif. 94602. Art work as seen on Sunday, November 3, 2013 in Oakland, Calif. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez)

Tu Tienda Azteca, a Mexican Folk Art store opened in Hayward in 2007 as a collaboration between Oscar Cisneros and his mother, Rosario Cisneros. Oscar is a self-proclaimed, self-taught artist who was born and raised in Oakland. In 2013 the shop relocated to the Fruitvale District in Oakland and along with art, brought a desire to work together with the community.

The Cisneros family not only bring traditional Mexican artwork to the communities they work in, they also share their knowledge with them. When they were located in Hayward they collaborated with Tennyson High School on their Día de los Muertos event. This year, they have collaborated with La Clinica de la Raza’s, Casa Che department’s Youth Brigade in creating traditional nichos, or shadow boxes for their altar.

In addition Tu Tienda Azteca has also been busy with Día de los Muertos celebrations such as The Unity Council’s yearly community

Tu Tienda Azteca at the Dia De Los Muertos Fruitvale Festival

Oscar Cisneros of Tu Tienda Azteca and his assistant’s work at the Unity Council’s yearly Día de los Muertos Festival in Oakland, Calif., on Saturday, November 2, 2013. (Photograph by: Natalie Rodriguez)

celebration and hosting workshops at the store. On Sunday, October 13th, they hosted Miguel Quintana, a sugar skull artist from Puebla, Mexico who had a live demonstration and sale. Local artist Leanne “Elrod” Rodriguez also recently hosted a “Glitter 101 Día de los Muertos Edition” workshop. Workshops are open to the community.

By making a purchase at Tu Tienda Azteca you are not only supporting local artist and merchants, you are also supporting community enrichment for the youth.


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Not all Supporters of Immigration Reform Support Guest Worker Programs

In a recent anonymous survey conducted by, results demonstrate that while Californian’s who participated may be in favor of immigration reform, not all are in favor of guest worker programs. Social media conversations through Facebook and Twitter shed light on the fact that not all supporters are aware that the immigration reform bill that passed the Senate, S. 744, includes guest worker programs.

Immigration Reform Survey Results

Infographic by Natalie Rodriguez

While the majority of participants in the survey are have never been undocumented, the majority have family members who are either currently undocumented or who have been. All are in favor of immigration reform; agree that a reform would strengthen the economy, and that that the reform should be a priority.

When asked about what makes an immigration reform plan comprehensive, some of the more popular responses included: taking into account family unity, length of time in the country, criminal backgrounds, and equal opportunities for all.

Responses on guest worker programs as a part of the reform showed concerned for the families of the workers and the workers themselves. One anonymous response was “I feel the guest worker program should not be included because what would happen if workers find someone here in the states and then form a family, would the government then separate families just like what’s happening currently?” In a Twitter conversation, one response was that “It’s the problem of people overstaying and becoming undocumented in the process.”

This week, President Obama has once again called on the House to pass a reform before the end of the year and encouraged the public to petition., the pro-reform organization, lead by technology industry leaders, continues hosting events and social media campaigns in support. The survey will remain open until the end of the year as the conversation on immigration reform continues.