As major debates surrounding immigration laws and border security issues rage, the ACLU of Idaho is hosting a five-week workshop to help raise awareness and acceptance for members of the immigrant community in the Magic Valley.

“I think when we talk about immigration or immigrants, we often think of a specific group,” said Rosseli Guerrero, a community organizer fellow at the ACLU of Idaho. “A lot of people think, 'Oh, they're just Mexicans.'

“But no, immigrants come from everywhere. Our immigrant community is vital here in Idaho, and they are part of our community, they are in our schools, in the hospitals.”

Members of Team Guerrero and ACLU Idaho, including Communications Director Rebecca de Leon, Equal Opportunity Counsel Irene Ruiz and Campaign Strategist Ruby Mendez-Mota, will host SOMOS: Supporting Emerging Leaders in Twin Falls, a five-week workshop that will take place Mondays from 6:30 to 8 p.m. starting July 15. The location is to be announced. They hope that through the workshops they will be able to connect with members of the Magic Valley, gain leadership skills and learn how to address issues in the region.

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They will also host the five-week workshop in Caldwell.

Workshop topics include the roots of racism, power and oppression, and storytelling as activism. The final workshop is a half-day weekend training where participants craft their own message to ensure they have understood what they have learned.

ACLU Idaho provides dinner at each workshop, interpreter services when needed, a travel stipend upon request, and child care for any parents who wish to attend. Additionally, each participant will receive a $320 stipend at the end of the program. All ages are welcome to participate.

“We want to make sure that this program is accessible and that people can come and learn and, most importantly, be in community with other Latinos and Latin Americans,” Guerrero told the Times-News“I think this will be a really great opportunity to connect with others and go beyond awareness and advocacy for our immigrant community.”

In a separate interview with Mendez-Mota, she also said it was important for her to achieve the goal of her program by coming to southern Idaho, where there is a large and growing Latino population in rural communities that lacks understanding of how to deal with certain issues.

ACLU brochures will be on display at the ACLU booth in Twin Falls City Park on Saturday during the Pride Festival.


“The treatment of brown students is very different from that of white students, and that is reflected in our report, 'Proud to Be Brown,' which is a specific document that talks about the experiences of students in Canyon County,” Mendez-Mota told the ^ “Times News”. “But that doesn't mean it doesn't happen here in Twin Falls. We hope we can address a wide range of issues.”

She added that the goal of this program is for this group of individuals to craft a pro-immigrant message so that it can be presented to all Idahoans and help change the narrative.

Earlier this year, House State Affairs Committee Chairman Brent Crane (R-Nampa) introduced House Bill 753, which would have stricter laws against undocumented immigrants in Idaho – a copy of Senate Bill 4 in Texas.

According to the text, if passed, HB 753 would have made illegal entry a federal crime and would have required the deportation of illegal immigrants to their home country. This bill would also allow local police officers to check immigration status and arrest people who have entered Idaho without legal papers.

After the bill passed the House of Representatives, it did not leave the Senate.

Governor Brad Little also announced a three-week mission earlier this year during his State of the State and Budget address in January, involving two Idaho State Police teams to help the state of Texas secure the U.S.-Mexico border.

ACLU at Pride

Stickers for the ACLU are on display at the ACLU booth during the Pride Festival at Twin Falls City Park on Saturday.


According to the press release, he said that the mission would focus on stopping human trafficking at the southern border. This also includes his concern that the cartels in Mexico are taking advantage of the open border. Both soldiers have since completed the mission and returned from there.

Representative Mike Simpson also addressed border security, saying that the illegal smuggling of fentanyl across the southern border into the United States has killed more than 112,000 Americans.

Mendez-Mota commented on her statements by saying that they only reflect a negative perspective and affect large parts of the population in southern Idaho, especially those who come here solely to work in agriculture and dairy farming.

“There's this false narrative that there's an invasion that's because of immigrants, that there's a high crime rate because of immigrants or drugs coming here,” Mendez-Mota said. “The governor sending funds to the Texas border is, quite frankly, a waste of taxpayer money instead of investing it in our education system.”

“On the contrary, we know that immigrants are a major reason why Idaho is so successful economically and commercially. We are the largest minority. We make up 14%, and the governor and legislators should not forget that many of them are voters. That's right, eligible voters.”

The last day to register for the five-week workshop is June 21. For more information and to register, visit

Monica Carrillo-Casas is the Hispanic life and affairs reporter for the Times-News. Carrillo-Casas can be contacted at or 208-735-3246.

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