Centro del Pueblo collects more than 5,000 county signatures

As of April 30, Eureka-based community organization Centro del Pueblo and its allies have collected more than 5,564 signatures to submit the Sanctuary Ordinance to the Humboldt County Office of Elections after months of tabling, organizing and attending community events for the initiative.

Renee Saucedo, one of the members that helped start Centro del Pueblo, said that she has mixed feelings as they make their way toward their deadline. The group set Monday, May 7 as their deadline to finalize and prepare paperwork to send to the county.

“What it means to me is that the same people who thought that they could ignore us a few months ago are now saying that we have power to make change,” Saucedo said.

“I’m feeling exhilarated because there’s so much momentum and people are being so supportive and collecting the signatures that we need,” Saucedo said. “At the same time, I’m feeling nervous still. I’m concerned about us qualifying to get this law on the ballot. Also, what’s to come even if we do because we have received push back.”

Centro del Pueblo, a non-profit, strives to unite Humboldt County and advocate for Latinx residents. One of their goals for 2018 is to pass a sanctuary law that would protect all residents in the community, specifically undocumented people.

According to the organization’s description of the ordinance, it would prohibit the use of county funds to enforce federal immigration laws and prohibit authorities from assisting Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) without a government-issued warrant.

Saucedo said that county officials have come up to her saying they were preparing to read the initiative.

“What it means to me is that the same people who thought that they could ignore us a few months ago are now saying that we have power to make change,” Saucedo said.

April Workshop

On Saturday, April 7, the organization led a training event for members and volunteers at the United Congressional Christian Church from noon to 2 p.m. The workshop was created to celebrate the group’s efforts since February and encourage everyone through the final weeks of April.

Attorney and honorary member Eric Kirk began participating with Centro del Pueblo after seeing members Saucedo and Emely Velez in action at a county board meeting last summer. Kirk helped draft the sanctuary proposal and has collected signatures.

Kirk said that the ordinance would be the first in the state to pass by a ballot measure. In the U.S. there are approximately 300 sanctuary jurisdictions.

“I have not found one anywhere else in the country that has been passed by a ballot measure,” Kirk said. “I feel that it will send a stronger message when it’s coming from the people. It’s an indication that Humboldt County acknowledges that it’s changing and embraces that change.”

Sanctuary for All

The journey for the organization and their allies has been rocky. Velez said that they initially started pretty late in the process of signature gathering, so they had some issues with time and organizing those who wanted to help.

However, as more signatures came in through February and March, the group became more empowered to accomplish their goal. In late March they hit the 3,000 mark.

“There’s 3,000 people in this county who are willing to sign this signature for us,” Velez said. “It shows that there is a community behind it. We just have to find them. We have to reach them and we have to be accessible to them.”

According to Velez, the initiative and the work they’ve done for months is something that goes beyond the group. Their desire get the initiative on the ballot opened up possibilities with the community, other organizations and allies.

“It’s not in the hands of just you, it’s in the hands of everybody,” Velez said.

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