Check out “Deport This!” A Partnership Column with OC Weekly and OC Immigrant Youth United!

Last March, I joined Denise de la Cruz and tallest Mexican in Orange County, Gabriel San Roman, to talk immigration for OC Weekly’s OC Speakly podcast. We were a few months into Trump’s presidency. I remember feeling dazed. By this point Trump had rubber stamped Steve Bannon’s first Muslim Ban, Jeff Sessions started putting out new memos to criminalize migration, and all across Orange County the racists were getting bolder.

There was good news too. Kevin de Leon introduced the California Values Act, Santa Ana passed the strongest Sanctuary ordinance in the country and was on its way to create a deportation defense fund, and a years long organizing campaign succeeded in pushing ICE out of the city jail. The Speakly team figured their listeners needed an update.

That’s when former Weekly editor, Gustavo Arellano popped into the room and asked to see him when we were done. By the end of the conversation I left the Weekly offices with a proposal for a weekly column that centered the voices of undocumented youth. I pitched it to the team at Orange County Immigrant Youth United (OCIYU) and we took it on.

Through the Undocu-Column, OCIYU members made sense of the Trump years for all of us–keeping us up to date on all the twist and turns in the fight to defend Sanctuary in California, demanding young immigrants to look beyond ourselves and stand up for all immigrants, providing us examples of what allyship looks like, and holding white liberals accountable when the need arose.

This month, Chispa is joining OCIYU and OC Weekly to revamp and rebrand the Undocu-Column for the future. First and foremost, we’re debuting a new name: Deport This!

Deport This! is a rebuttal to Trump’s racist politics and his racist cheerleaders in Orange County who’ll no doubt get triggered from week to week for as long as this column gets published. It’s also a departure from the stale immigrant rights narratives our movements have pushed to the forefront. That means no more woe is me tales of brown people in need of saving that liberals love to fetishize. Fun fact: I once had a reporter pass on a story because they only wanted to talk to immigrants who were afraid.

Secondly, the column will maintain a central focus on publishing the thoughts of young undocumented immigrants, with the occasional guest post from allies in the field. I’m not going to explain why this is important.

Lastly, we’re expanding the pool of writers. The column will debut featuring writers from OCIYU and Chispa, but we’re looking to extend an invitation to more young, undocumented organizers, writers, artists, and agitators from other organizations to join the regular rotation of columnists. For us, that means our immigration related columns will appear on the Weekly, while the rest of our publications will remain on our website, with the occasional cross-post on the Voice of OC.

So I invite you to check out Deport This! when it launches this week on OC Weekly’s site. I hope you enjoy it, and find guidance on how to navigate these times from some of the most brilliant people I’ve had the privilege to work with.

Hairo Cortes is a founding member and Executive Director of Chispa. His organizing background in immigrant rights has seen him lead local, statewide, and national campaigns against deportations and immigrant detention. His cultural and political commentary has been published in OC Weekly, Univision, and Latino Rebels, among others. You can usually find him singing along to Johnny Cash and playing with his cats, Om’Nom and Chispita.

Follow Hairo @HCortes96 @hairo_0