Migrant Youth Panel at Netroots Nation
I'm in Las Vegas, today, for Netroots Nation 2010. It's my third time in this city, my first time over 21. Las Vegas is a plastic city, at least where all the resorts are. Everything is designed to get you to spend money. I had to drop $20 for wireless just to write this, and I haven't even gambled yet!
I'm here to put on a panel entitled "'Illegal' Organizing: Lessons from the Migrant Youth Movement." The description is as follows:
Few would argue with the fact that the migrant youth movement in the U.S. is a case study in organizing against the odds. With a mainstream media hostile to its very existence, very little money and an online space that is more nativist than pro-migrant, migrant youth have been forced to think outside the box when it comes to using social media to make change. From stopping friends' deportations through Facebook to walking over 1,500 miles to Washington D.C. to demand federal reform (and putting it on YouTube), migrant youth have successfully created a growing online and offline movement--one story at a time.
As the stories of most of panelists will illustrate, the U.S. immigration system is broken, decisions made in the name of "the law" are arbitrary and every day people and their families are suffering because of it. This interactive session will investigate both the challenges and opportunities of organizing against the odds. It will introduce attendees to some of the most inspiring young activists of our time and include plenty of time for questions and contributions from the audience.
Since I first proposed this panel it has gone through many iterations. The idea, initially, was to get as many unauthorized migrant youth to Netroots Nation as possible. Unfortunately, Most of the original panelists were either arrested in D.C., recently, or are fighting to help the people that were arrested.
Still, we were able to pull a good set of panelists together. Lizbeth Mateo is flying in at the last minute after all of the craziness in D.C. She's the only one of the original panelists that's going to make it, unfortunately. Matias Ramos and Yahaira Carrillo are both here on Netroots Nation Scholarships. It's not the critical mass of migrant youth that I had hoped for but it's certainly better than last year.
If you don't know who any of these people are or what this panel is going to be about, I really encourage you to click on their names above to learn more about them. Folks like Lizbeth, Matias, and Yahaira are my personal heroes. Meeting them and organizing alongside them has changed my life forever, for the better. Coming through and be open to having your life changed, too.