The PUEBLO Action Fund commemorated ten years of grassroots organization and political action at the Cabrillo Pavilion Arts Center on Sunday evening, May 2, during its annual dinner.

The PUEBLO Action Fund is a nonprofit organization 501(C) 4, which means that it can engage in political lobbying and funding. One of its primary thrusts has been to help elect candidates that support progressive issues, particularly those affecting low-income residents of Santa Barbara, notably immigrant workers. PUEBLO is an acronym for People United for Economic Justice Building Leadership Through Organizing.

“The dinner is to gather supporters and recapitulate successes and failures,” said Felipe Rodriguez-Flores, co-chair of the Pueblo Action Fund’s board of directors. It was also a fundraising event: The Cabrillo Arts Center was furnished with an auction table, as well as a buffet and a bar, in order to accommodate contributors. PUEBLO also requested donations from members, ranging from $25 to $500, in order to help PUEBLO stay active in the community and have longevity.

Several speakers focused on PUEBLO’s importance in the Santa Barbara community, and all called for immigration reform. The keynote speaker was Angelica Salas, executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA). “The story of America is about a nation of immigrants,” Salas said. “But the story of America is also about the exclusion of immigrants.”

Salas recalled PUEBLO’s march on Capitol Hill with other grassroots organizations, sharing her memory of a young girl who addressed the C-SPAN cameras saying, “This is not right, being without my mother.” According to Salas, one hour after the young girl said that, Salas received a call from the White House and had a personal meeting with President Barack Obama on the subject of immigration reform.

“What I told President Obama is that what I know is, that it’s a right for a child to have her mother,” Salas said.

PUEBLO also gave Dolores Huerta Civic Leadership Awards to Esther Aguilera and Das Williams for their honorary contributions to the organization. Aguilera is currently Third District County Supervisor Doreen Farr’s district representative. Williams is a Santa Barbara City councilmember and a candidate for California State Assembly.

PUEBLO’s next event will be at Saint Raphael’s Catholic Church on May 15, for a Community Values Forum. The event will discuss making immigration a federal issue, which organizers hope will make undocumented and vulnerable immigrants safer.


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