Summer Internship Series: My Human Rights Summer

Ivanna Salgado ’18

Immigration Organizer Intern, Chicago Religious Leadership Network, Chicago, Illinois   

My name is Ivanna Salgado and I am currently a senior at Denison University. I am double majoring in Women’s and Gender Studies and English Literature. This past summer, I interned with the Chicago Religious Leadership Network as an immigration organizer.

When I first received the McMahon recognition, I mentioned that I was involved with the Denison community through the activism in campus and outside of campus. I had done a lot of the organizing in campus through Amnesty International. My goal for this summer was to learn grassroots organizing so I could come back and teach it to my team and to organize with outside communities.As an immigration organizer intern, I was able to build stronger relationships with over 20 congregations, which were relationships that could never be replaced. These congregations had interest in creating a more inclusive community by teaching its members about social justice movement through training. I also wrote blogs about them. For example, for the University Church, I wrote an article about their Sanctuary Café, which was very exciting and worthy.

One of my favorite experiences was learning about the sanctuary city in Chicago, which actually inspired my senior thesis. Chicago is known to be a sanctuary city under the Welcoming City Ordinance; however, it still violates the 4th amendment rights of those who are undocumented and documented. For example, the Chicago police have been working with ICE by passing along information to deport immigrants who don’t have any criminal records other than crossing the border without documents. Another example is that the Chicago police has been arresting children that lead them to having bad criminal record. Most of the people that are affected are people of color and low-income communities.

Although in the past I had only focused on undocumented immigrants, this internship taught me about expanding sanctuary. This topic is about expanding sanctuary not only to undocumented immigrants but also offer sanctuary beyond the physical mortar walls to people who are often discriminated and are documented.

For my senior thesis, I will be exploring this topic through theory by redefining citizenship in the United States. I will be writing an essay and turning it into a project throughout my senior year. Half of it is field research, which I am personally excited. I hope with the right guidance, I will able to get my message across and build stronger relationships with those who believe we get handed everything. Working with the campaign, personally, gave a me a broader perspective of what non-profits do and pushed me to accomplish my future dream as a lawyer and as a social entrepreneur

This internship taught me to be flexible from working remotely, to going to protests, to going to speak to alderman, going to congregations, and working in the office. I definitely recommend students who want to learn about human rights and grassroots organizing to apply. Cinthya Rodiguez, my supervisor, was amazing and great young woman who has a lot of passion for the work that she conducts as an organizer. She has built a great reputation amongst many organizations in Chicago. This was an amazing opportunity.

If you have any questions about my experience, please feel free to contact me. I would be more than happy to talk with you!