By Tim Rogers
June 17, 2016
The biography of America contains hundreds of millions of chapters chronicling the experiences of immigrants who come here from different lands at different times in our history.
It’s a thick book, but a good read.
On Saturday night, a group of celebrities, activists and allies will gather in Los Angeles for “I Am An Immigrant: A celebration of our stories,” a live event that will offer a sampling of the types of immigrant narratives that make our country one of the most diverse and vibrant in the world.
The live event, part of Immigrant Heritage Month, is sponsored by Welcome.us and The California Endowment and will be livestreamed on Fusion.net, with backstage bonus video on Fusion’s Facebook page.
It will feature spoken performances by Scandal’s Guillermo Diaz, Actress Cristela Alonzo, Devious Maid’s Dania Ramirez, East Los High’s Carlito Olivero and Danielle Vega, Actresses Melonie Diaz and Bojana Bojana Novakovic, Actor Harry Shum, Jr., Pulitzer Prize Winner Jose Antonio Vargas, and 6-year-old immigration activist Sophie Cruz (who recently got to meet President Obama a few weeks after this story).
The live show will pay homage to Native American culture and our nation’s immigrant heritage, as well as to the millions of undocumented people who are now taking their shot at the American Dream and helping to weave the new national fabric.
“When we hear the word ‘opportunity,’ a lot of us might think we mean something grand, but really I think opportunity is about having a chance. The I Am An Immigrant event is an opportunity to tell stories about survival, love and the sacrifice that so many of us, so many of our families have done to ensure they have a chance to do something,” comic Cristela Alonzo told Fusion. “I NEED to be part of the conversation because I have the luxury of having a voice that is heard; so I want to use my voice to make sure other’s people’s stories are told and received. When we truly get people to listen to the unheard voices, only then do we truly have a chance to have a real conversation about it.”
Latina comic Cristela Alonzo will be among those performing on Saturday night
Saturday’s event will be about speaking and listening.
“I Am An Immigrant celebrates the freedom in breaking the silence and sharing your story by centering the voices and experiences of those most directly impacted by our broken immigration system,” says Evangeline Reyes, program manager of The California Endowment. “This community gathering acknowledges that immigrants will help shape the prosperity of our country – they are a source of strength, creativity and economic vitality.”
There’s also a political component to the event, which will be set against the backdrop of the sustained drumroll leading up to the Supreme Court’s forthcoming decision on the legality of the Obama administration’s executive actions on deportation relief for millions of undocumented immigrants and their children—a bundle of legal protections known as DAPA and expanded-DACA.
The Supreme Court’s ruling, which will affect upwards of 500,000 people in Los Angeles alone—including many of those in attendance at Saturday evening’s event—is expected to be handed down sometime in the next two weeks, possibly as early as Monday.
The timing and location of the I Am An Immigrant event is not a coincidence.
“We’ve chosen to host this in Los Angeles, which is essentially the epicenter for the Supreme Court decision on DAPA and expanded DACA,” says Alida Garcia, director of policy at immigrant rights group FWD.us. “It will be a space to celebrate diversity at a time when we’re hearing a lot of anti-immigrant messages.”
And diversity doesn’t just mean immigrants from different parts of Latin America, it’s all people from all walks of life.
“Now more than ever, we must come together to create health and justice for all by fighting against structural racism and systemic oppression,” says Reyes, of the California Endowment. “We stand in solidarity with all oppressed peoples, including our young people of color, LGBTQ, Muslim and undocumented brothers and sisters who are the American Dream.”
Saturday’s event, which will be held at L.A.’s Holman United Methodist Church from 5-8 p.m., is open and free to the public. If you’re not in the area, swing by Fusion.net and watch it live here.
For more information, go to: www.beverlyhillsimmigrationlaw.com