In July 2021, MIRC launched the first cohort of its Community Council. Meet the current members:
Paulina López Jacinto
Mi nombre es Paulina López Jacinto. Soy de Guatemala. Vivo aquí en Grand Rapids, Michigan. Me importan los asuntos de inmigración porque he visto familias separadas y he sido separada también. Quiero hacer trabajo voluntario con MIRC porque quiero animar y apoyar a los que tienen casos de inmigración.
[English: My name is Paulina López Jacinto. I am from Guatemala. I live here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Immigration issues are important to me because I have seen families being separated, and I have been separated too. I want to volunteer with MIRC because I want to encourage and support those with immigration cases.]
My name is Moises Ledesma and I am so happy for the invitation to form part of this group. I am originally from a very primitive village in the state of Queretaro, Mexico. I migrated to the USA back in the mid-90s. Once in the United States, I have worked in so many different types of jobs like construction, maintenance, and agricultural work. I have lived in Lake Leelanau, Michigan since 1997. I have grown roots in this land, not without having a bumpy ride in life. Immigrants like me sometimes go through the same passages as others but for some circumstances with different results and perhaps a different philosophy of life. I think that we all can make a big difference if we look out for each other, and lift the ones that have fallen into tragedy. It does not take that much to help others with good guidance for a good destination and happiness. Let us help each other within our abilities and perhaps even more important with our companions and sympathy for the human race. It is an honor to be in the group.
Born and raised in Democratic Republic of the Congo, Elie is the recipient of The Detroit News / Catch Outstanding High School Graduate Certificate of Achievement, a NAACP Freedom Fund Scholar, Sulura W. Jackson award winner, and EMU Full Tuition Scholarship recipient. He is attending Eastern Michigan University majoring in Aviation Flight Technology.
R. lives in West Michigan.
Mayra was born in Guatemala and came to Detroit in 1999. She is a passionate community advocate who has worked on immigration reform, community outreach to prevent foreclosures in Southwest Detroit, voter registration, engagement and turnout, Census 2020 outreach, and 2021 Redistricting. She has worktined at Bridging Communities since as an Outreach Specialist and translates resources for Spanish speaking Southwest Detroit residents. In her spare time, Mayra gardens, enjoys Detroit’s scenic riverfront, and attends and volunteers at First Latin American Baptist Church.
About MIRC’s Community Council
The Michigan Immigrant Rights Center (MIRC) is committed to ensuring its work is rooted in the lived experience and voices of those most affected by immigration and farmworker issues and concerns. Through the regular course of our duties (e.g. meeting with clients, planning joint advocacy campaigns, participating in community tables), we listen, hear, and respond to feedback from our client communities and in a variety of formats (e.g. through phone calls, emails, surveys, and social media). We also engage with our current and former clients and our community-based partners when a particular policy, decision, or opportunity for MIRC to take a position arises. Hearing where clients and communities stand on an issue, and why, provides invaluable insights and better informs the positions and advocacy that MIRC pursues on behalf of those we serve. It also centers and raises client voices and is a step toward implementing anti-racist principles in our advocacy. MIRC’s recently adopted strategic plan called for a more formalized process to ensure added transparency and accountability, thus a Community Council was being formed.
MIRC and members of the Council agree to uphold the following values:
- Integrity and Transparency: Maintain a process that is honest and transparent, while also maintaining confidentiality regarding issues that come before the Council.
- Justice and Equity: Pursuit of justice and policymaking that considers impacts according to race and other dimensions of identity.
- Inclusion: Support participation regardless of barriers including culture, language, geographic location, disability, or access to technology.
- Diversity: Respect for diversity of thought, experience, and interests among those most impacted, while ensuring that the other core values are upheld.
The council is composed of community members who are most impacted by one of MIRC’s core issue areas — not staff of organizations or agencies tasked with working with those most impacted. Some members may be former MIRC clients with closed cases when they join the council. Participation on the Council does not preclude (or guarantee) future legal assistance from MIRC.
Members will be chosen to ensure sufficient representation across:
- MIRC issue areas [e.g. unaccompanied children, workers’ rights, and general immigration services (including detention, survivors of intimate partner violence, etc)]
- Age (18+)
- Geography from across Michigan
- Race and ethnicity
- Other facets of diversity, including but not limited to: sexuality, gender identity, and ability.
Terms and Commitment
Nine members will serve two-year terms to ensure the vitality of the Community Council. We started with staggered terms so the inaugural cohort is a smaller cohort and then an additional cohort will be added each year.
Regular meetings are held twice a year, in addition to ad hoc meetings arranged virtually as needed when an issue arises. Communication also takes place by email, phone, and survey when an issue requires immediate attention.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Community Council will fulfill three distinct roles:
- When a policy issue arises, consult with MIRC staff on ensuring the process designed to check in with current and/or former MIRC clients, as well as client communities, is appropriate and we are able to reach those most impacted and hear their opinions.
- Ensure fidelity to the process designed and that feedback is gathered from those most impacted.
- Council members will have the opportunity to submit their opinions and feedback on the policy issue at hand by email or phone in a timely manner.
Members agree to the above responsibilities and to the values of the Council to ensure all members are able to participate fully across differences. MIRC ensures members receive reimbursement for their time, travel, or childcare by offering stipends or other ways to resource members for their commitment and service (e.g., access to conferences, professional development, participation in a community of practice/learning, etc.).