Situated near the Southern East Side of California’s Central Valley, Lindsay’s history traces back to the first Orange Trees that were planted there. Year after year, this small town in Tulare County sees individuals coming into the area. Individuals from different regions have migrated here and settled calling Lindsay home. A place where they have felt safe enough to start families of their own, and even bring in their extended family members too. Families who have now lived in Lindsay for decades, seeing its growth and raising their children. Lindsay has been home to many immigrant families. Mixed status families. Many children who arrived at a young age and have gone through the Lindsay Unified School District all the way to their high school graduation are among the many DACA Recipients in the nation. They have walked through their streets, shopped the small businesses, dined at their favorite restaurants, living a normal life, until they are hit with the realization that due to lack of citizenship status, the possibility of going to college is threatened. Immigration policies has been a constant topic for many of these families, and with the rescindment of DACA, it has been more spoken about lately, especially when the lives of sons and daughters, family members, young parents, friends and neighbors’ lives are in limbo. Only having a less than 30-day period to submit renewals before its termination, had DACA Recipients seeing their goals be cast with a grey shadow. Many were not eligible to renew, but as that decision was turned over by a judge the process of accepting renewals continues. Congress has not agreed on a permanent solution to DACA, which has urged community members, leaders, and advocates to bring it to the local level. With 85.5% being Hispanic or Latino of any race, according to the 2010 Census, there are a good number of immigrants living in Lindsay, whether immigrants themselves or first-, second-, third-, plus generation immigrant descendants.
Brought up to the City Council for a vote on A Resolution of Support for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Lindsay City Hall was getting packed by community members, right before 6pm on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. Community residents with distinct backgrounds showed up, immigrant, mixed status families, educators, community organizers, and allies among many different organizations filled the Council Chambers. Given only three minutes to speak during Public Comment, community residents began forming a line to speak next in favor of a Resolution of Support for DACA. Middle School and High School students spoke up in support urging the Council to stand up for their classmates. A mother told her story of migration, the struggle she faced, and how nonetheless she raised amazing individuals, one of which went to one of the most prestigious universities graduating with highest honors and another who currently serves in the U.S. Army. She also spoke about how she started her own business and how she is raising her four younger children with proof that hard work pays off. Yet she had to acknowledge the fear she had, before acquiring proper documentation. She recounted the time she stood before the judge who had the power to decide if she was granted the opportunity to stay in the U.S. How she feared the possibility of being deported and taken away from her children, and how her life changed after gaining legal status. She urged Council members to vote in favor of a Resolution of Support for DACA knowing quite well that the lives of many were being played with, and that the City of Lindsay could do right by standing with DACA Recipients, the undocumented and immigrant population that they serve and represent. Educators spoke about the students they have witnessed go off to lead wonderful lives, allies spoke about the friends and neighbors they have grown up with, community organizers spoke about the families they work with. A First-year student at UC Santa Barbara, who has called Lindsay home since she immigrated to the U.S. sent her Statement of Support to be read before the Council. She wrote about her struggle of being undocumented and how she slowly began to uncover what that truly meant as she grew older. Despite not knowing what will happen after her DACA expires, she is continuing her education and pursuing her career goals. In her letter, she urged Council Members to vote in favor of a Resolution of Support for DACA.
While agenda items were being considered quickly, the audience grew more anxious to know what the council would decide. As the item was considered, one person spoke against, and another spoke in favor of the Resolution. One Council Member shared her family’s immigrant story and took the agenda item to a vote. With four votes in favor and one abstention, the Resolution of Support for DACA was adopted allowing the individuals who went to show their support, breathe a sigh of relief. After walking out of the Council Chambers, community members congratulated each other for the victory and for sharing their stories and speaking in support. It took a community effort to pass it and now, Lindsay residents can continue to witness their streets lined with parked cars on Friday night’s. Cars that bring in friends and families to enjoy the food, music, and liveliness of the Farmers Market, knowing that their City Council supports the DACA Recipients and their families, many of which go out to enjoy the aguas frescas, churros, and feel the music each Friday night. May this small town, amongst the Orange Groves, flourish in its rich immigrant history.