Comunidades Indígenas en Liderazgo (CIELO) is an Indigenous woman-led organization collecting data on Indigenous migrants to visibilize their existence and diversity throughout the Los Angeles region.
Founded in 2016, CIELO provides language revitalization, economic solidarity, and COVID-19 vaccine outreach to Indigenous migrant communities. Indigenous migrants face unique social, economic, and cultural challenges, yet they are often invisibilized in the immigrant rights narrative because they are typically excluded from data collection efforts or lumped into the broad Latino category. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, CIELO started the Undocumented Indigenous Fund, a fund to support undocumented indigenous migrants in Los Angeles. As of January 2021, CIELO has distributed $2.2 million in pandemic relief funds. Additionally, through this fund, CIELO collected a data sample, capturing the existence and diversity of Indigenous migrants in the Los Angeles region through a story map titled, “We Are Here: Indigenous Diaspora in Los Angeles.” This data sample revealed that nearly 11,000 individuals come from 30 distinct Indigenous communities throughout Mexico and Central America. Over half of respondents indicated that their preferred language was a language other than, or in addition to, English or Spanish. This included over 20 different languages from five different language groups, such as Zapoteco, Chinanteco, K’iche’, and Ayuujk. The story map emphasizes the need for public institutions like the L.A. Unified School District, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, L.A. County Department of Health Services, and the Los Angeles Superior Court, to take the necessary steps to provide translation services in the most commonly spoken Indigenous languages. One example of a resource CIELO has developed is the “Indigenous Language Identification Card” aimed at ensuring that entities like LAPD can connect individuals with adequate interpretation services. The data collected by CIELO illustrates the dire need to provide interpretation and translation services to reduce barriers that often impede Indigenous migrants from accessing basic, yet vital resources. As highlighted by CIELO, engaging in language justice for the region’s Indigenous migrants is critical in creating a more welcoming environment for the most marginalized communities. Beyond the L.A. region, there is a dire need for adequate translation services for Indigenous migrants arriving at the border and those navigating immigration court proceedings. To learn more about CIELO visit their site here and access their story map here. Read about CIELO’s work in the L.A. Times here. To learn more about the linguistic barriers indigenous migrants face at the border read an article by The New Yorker here.
Global California 2030 is an initiative that aims to prepare students with the language skills to participate in the global economy and create a multilingual California.
Research suggests that bilingualism is an asset, pointing to benefits like meeting the demand for a multilingual workforce, economic benefits, and cognitive development. In 2016, Proposition 58 was approved by voters, removing barriers to implementing dual-language programs. Interest from California voters in these programs continued to grow since Proposition 58, which led to the creation of the Global California 2030 initiative. This initiative sets forth numerous goals to ensure a path to a multilingual state. For example, by 2030, Global California aims to enroll 50% of all K-12 students in programs that prepare them to be proficient in at least two languages. Moreover, by 2040, the goal is that 75% of students in K-12 become proficient in at least two languages to obtain a State Seal of Biliteracy. To meet these goals, the initiative also aims to significantly increase the number of bilingual instructors to 2,000 by 2030. Yet, obstacles to achieving the goals of the initiative persist such as the COVID-19 pandemic and teacher shortages. After they were forced to shift their priorities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2021, schools began to re-visit their plans to expand bilingual programs. For example, EdSource’s article noted that while Los Angeles Unified School District was able to open its first dual immersion program in Japanese in 2021, the launch of a new Filipino dual immersion program in the district would have to be postponed due to the pandemic. In addition, advocates like Californians Together are calling for more investments to grow the bilingual teacher pipeline and address teacher shortages to ensure the goals of Global California can be met. To learn more about Global California 2030, read the California Department of Education’s report here. Read a fact sheet by the California Budget and Policy Center (CBPC) on the importance of supporting bilingualism here.
Photo Credit: California Department of Education