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Dreams detained

‘Real talk’ on immigration and human rights

Hundreds protest immigrant detention at David L. Moss Criminal Justice Center in Tulsa on June 30, 2018.

Joseph Rushmore

Dani Rosales is aware she can’t fit everything there is to know about immigration in an hour and a half, but that isn’t stopping her from planning a nuanced conversation that goes beyond the headlines of the hot-button issue. 

Rosales, a sociology PhD student at the University of Texas-Austin, will be the host of “Dreams Detained: Immigration & Human Rights,” a conversation on current immigration policies and the “recklessness of ICE.” The conversation will take place at 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 20 at the Woody Guthrie Center. 

“I want people to feel like they have a better sense of how these policies affect vulnerable folks, and not just the vulnerable folks that are getting detained,” says Rosales who is working with the event organizer to curate the topics of discussion for the conversation. 

“I want them to get a sense of how this is affecting the people who aren’t getting picked up,” she adds. “I want people to understand the families who are shutting themselves up in their homes because they are afraid 
to leave.”

In choosing topics, Rosales says she wants the conversation to be broad so that everyone—regardless of how much they know about the current immigration debate—feels like they can join the conversation. Potential topics range from national issues like the criminalization of migration at the southern border to local issues like the Tulsa County Sheriff’s 287(g) contract with ICE.

Rosales doesn’t want to limit the conversation to policy, however. She is also interested in discussing the racialization of anti-immigrant sentiment, intersecting identities and the ideologies that uphold the country’s current immigration policies.

“We have come from a previous presidential administration that did a lot of deporting of immigrants and we’re in one that continues to do so, but clearly in a different way,” Rosales says. “The rhetoric surrounding immigration and deportation have changed, so I definitely want to talk about that as well.”

The conversation will feature three guests who will engage with Rosales in an informative and lively discussion in front of a live audience. The guests include Stephanie Maldonado, senior at Holland Hall High School, Rosa Hernandez, president of Dream Alliance Oklahoma - Tulsa, and Jorge Roman-Romero, law student and co-president of the Tulsa University Immigration Law Society.

“We really want to promote the voice of brown and black people in Tulsa,” says Bracken Klar, a Tri City Collective member and the curator for the talk. “And with this specific event, we want to bring voice to immigration as perceived by the non-majority culture.”

Maldonaldo, a lead for the Latinx Affinity Group at Holland Hall High School and guest at the upcoming conversation, says speaking out against injustice is one of the most important actions people can take. 

“What’s happening down in Texas with detention centers is inhumane and they shouldn’t be called detention centers but concentration camps,” Maldonaldo says. “That is something where we all have a role—either we fight back or we stay quiet, and staying quiet is the worst thing you can do.”

Hernandez, a Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipient and conversation guest, says she feels it is her duty to speak out for those who are unable to do so for fear of retaliation.

“As someone who was undocumented and now has the luxury of some type of protection—or whatever DACA is—I think it’s up to people like us to voice our concerns, the concerns of the real undocumented community,” Hernandez says. “I think it’s a responsibility of mine to do that, to use the little protection I do have to be vocal.”

Roman-Romero emphasizes that migration is a human right. He was among a group of Tulsa law students and lawyers who traveled to San Antonio to receive migrants as they were released from a nearby detention center with pending asylum cases and little information.

“This is not—or it should not—be a political issue. We’re talking about the lives of people,”  Roman-Romero says. 

“Dreams Detained” is the second conversation in Real Talk: Voicing the Margins, a series of curated live conversations on issues and topics of critical importance to marginalized communities.

Beyond providing a unique platform to shed light on the topic of immigration, organizers hope this conversation will spur action, as did the first conversation of the series, “Blacknificent!: Black, Queer and Okie.” 

“From that conversation came the request for more ‘Blacknificent!’ events all over the city as well as an invitation to work with Denita White to develop a curriculum for Tulsa Public Schools,” says Quraysh Ali Lansana, creator of the Real Talk series, Tulsa Artist Fellow and Tri-City Collective member. “Those are the kind of amazing actions and next steps that can be born of just people getting together and talking.”

The Real Talk series is a partnership between the Woody Guthrie Center, the Tulsa Artist Fellowship, Tri-City Collective and Folk Alliance International. The third conversation in the series will discuss K-12 education and take place on Aug. 17. 

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