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Last month, Netflix premiered “Immigration Nation,” a multi-part documentary about the nation’s current war on immigration and the toll it is having on families in and out of the system.
Sister organizations Comunidad Colectiva and the Carolina Migrant Network are among the many organizations that the series focuses on.
NCRP’s Field Director Ben Barge sat down to speak with one of the organizations’ key leaders, Stefania Arteaga, about their work supporting and organizing immigrants down South.
Their continued struggle against criminalization and for funding, despite their achievements on the ground, is another reason why NCRP calls on funders to double down on their support of the pro-immigrant and -refugee movement.
Ben Barge: Immigration Nation recently premiered on Netflix, and when people get to episodes 3 and 4, they’ll see your incredible work with Comunidad Colectiva and the Carolina Migrant Network. How did this all begin?
Stefania Arteaga: Comunidad Colectiva came to be because we had a gap in our community around grassroots organizing. A lot of us were involved in the momentum for comprehensive immigration reform in 2010, and when that sizzled, a lot of people burned out, including myself.
But we stayed involved, especially as the 2016 presidential election started ramping up. And then, here in Charlotte and across the Southeast, we saw so many youth being picked up at bus stops or on their way to school because of Operation Border Guardian, which was designed to pick up Central American migrants who had aged out and had exhausted all legal remedies.
And so we realized we had to be more intentional about our organizing. We’re really just a bunch of folks who grew up together and organized a youth group who said, “we need to do something about this.” I think I was the youngest, I was 20 at the time.
We began organizing community defense watches to limit ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and protect people from their retaliatory behavior.
Read the full article about immigration nation by Ben Barge at the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy.