Swap Meet Justice began as a result of our voter registration efforts. We learned that the people passing us by were permanent legal residents who wanted to become citizens but were facing significant challenges in doing so. These included unaffordable attorney fees for help with the application process, and the impossibility of taking time off from work to meet with them.
Thanks to previous instruction from SEIU 721, the volunteer services of community members, local immigration attorneys and coalition organizations like VC-CLUE, Ventura County Legal Aid, El Concilio, UFW, and MICOP, and the generosity of Oxnard College, we were able to start Swap Meet Justice at the Oxnard College Community Marketplace.
Services are free and they take place on the last Sunday of every month.
Yesterday, a man came up to the tent to show us his brand new citizenship certificate and to thank us for helping him get it. We’ve heard that others have received their citizenship, but this personal visit was a first for us.
He told the volunteer that he had “interviewed” us several times before entrusting us with his paperwork. His brothers, who are also pursuing citizenship, told him that his application would be refused by the USCIS and that nothing good could come from a popup tent clinic made of folding tables and volunteers. At each stage of the process, they warned him that the government just wanted to tell him in person that his application was being denied…until the day that he was sworn in as an American citizen by a judge, and received his impressive and personalized certificate. His brothers are still waiting…
We are so proud that he overcame every challenge set before him to become a citizen and that we had a part in this journey. We are also proud of our coalition members and volunteers, who keep showing up to make this opportunity available and thankful to Oxnard College for allowing us the space.
Even when the media is filled with oppressive news, each of us has the ability to profoundly change someone’s life for the better. This man is holding the proof in his hands.
Oh, and we also signed him up to vote!
Want to be involved in this effort too?
Swap Meet Justice meets every last Sunday in front of Oxnard College’s bookstore. You don’t have to be a lawyer. You don’t need to speak a foreign language, but that extra skill is much appreciated. You don’t have to be a citizen and you don’t have to be over 18. Interested teen volunteers are great! Basic requirements are that you care about helping our immigrant neighbors.
“Last-Sunday” citizenship fairs start at 8:00 am and end at 3:00 pm. Volunteers who haven’t been trained in our system are requested to come at 8:30 for a one-hour orientation. We do reserve the right to respectfully refuse services from anyone. More details here!
- Passing out or posting flyers, included in the link above, is really helpful as well. You never know who can use our services.
- People who need immigration services can come from anywhere. They do not need to be Ventura County residents.
Do I have to wait until Sunday, March 29th, to help?
No! Swap Meet Justice is working to establish a regular fair in east county as well and on Saturday, March 21st, we’re joining up with Moorpark’s 2020 census event -“Make Moorpark Count Festival“, at the Ruben Castro Human Services Center, at 612 Spring Road. We will be helping people with citizenship, DACA, green card, voter registration and other services amidst great food, mariachis and all sorts of fun activities!
The citizenship fair will be from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm. Volunteers who haven’t been trained in our system are requested to come at 9:00 am for the one-hour orientation.