Category Archives: Puertas Abiertas

Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center works hand in hand with Latinos to inspire and achieve healthy living, self-sufficiency, and opportunities for leadership and community engagement.

Uniting to Protect Immigrant Rights

From the Opinion section of the Napa Valley Register:

  • Harjit Khaira

Women’s March Napa Valley held yet another impassioned community town hall meeting last Sunday at the First United Methodist Church with a distinguished 10-member panel and a respectable audience.

Each panelist touched on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) raids that are stoking fear in the hearts of our immigrant populace, particularly among those who are undocumented.

Supervisor Alfredo Pedroza stressed the need to work together and promote a message of unity while some audience members demanded more action from local officials and particularly from the Chamber of Commerce, the Napa Valley Vintners, wineries, grapegrowers and the vast hospitality industry.

Retired lawyer and audience member Preston Shackleford passionately delivered a message beseeching these industries to speak up and step up to help immigrants, regardless of their documentation status, as these very immigrants are the ones who enable such industries to thrive.

She expressed the need to protect vulnerable immigrants and held that once ICE is at an undocumented immigrant’s door, their rights are gone and they may not get to say goodbye to their family or have proper legal due process.

The current immigration crisis was interpreted as allegorizing “Napa’s second earthquake” with Shackleford emphasizing the need for strategic tactics by creating “sanctuary churches” to protect families and vehemently summoning the community to rise up as it did after the last earthquake.

Audience member Sharon Macklin followed with a timely question to the panel, “Who have you reached out to in the industry?

If you haven’t, can you do so?” Supervisor Pedroza answered that he would try to have more of a “direct ask” of these industries and how they can be more proactive.

Of particular importance was the openness of both Napa Chief of Police Steve Potter and Napa Sheriff John Robertson who attended in full uniform to explain law enforcement’s policies of never asking for immigration status when interviewing people in our community. Robertson pointed out that Napa is special and unique because “we truly work together with the community with open discussion.” Steve Potter thoughtfully added that they try to be present at community events and encourage all people, including minorities to attend and speak up at such Town Hall meetings. He has been witnessing much fear in children who are afraid of their parents being detained and deported.

Local pediatrician Joseph Carrillo added that he has seen an increase amongst children suffering anxiety, behavioral issues and not wanting to go to school. He believes that much of the trauma children are feeling and experiencing is due to the fear surrounding possible deportation, and unfortunately most physician offices do not have social workers or therapists. He touched on therapy for children in schools through puppetry to help them deal with fear and create a safe space.

Both Potter and Robertson talked about local law enforcement’s efforts in creating trust with local communities and all neighborhoods.

Potter relayed to the audience the difficulties they face when ICE goes on a raid and represents themselves as “local police.” ICE essentially takes advantage of the trust that the local law enforcement has worked hard to build.

ICE uses a ruse to get people to come out of their homes to arrest them.

Robertson doubled down emphasizing that when ICE is portrayed as homeland security in the media with their uniforms boldly declaring, “POLICE,” it diminishes the trust between the immigrant community and the local police. Robertson and Potter wear their uniforms with pride and want to educate and help immigrant communities and build deeper trust.

Melissa Patrino, executive director or Puertas Abiertas, a community resource center working hand in hand with Latinos has remained steadfast and active in responding to the vulnerable needs of the community.

She commented that ICE is a rogue agency with a list of people they are targeting and will persist with their raids even if it is a sanctuary city. Patrino discussed the difficulty of obtaining legal status. Most undocumented immigrants are hard-working, good people who have been in the U.S. for decades paying taxes.

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Yet it remains a difficult and arduous road to obtaining legal status for most. Despite anyone’s stance on immigration, it is reasonable to agree that all people should be treated with dignity, respect and with due process despite their immigration status.

Irit Weir, organizer of the Women’s March Napa Valley, announced that if anyone knows undocumented immigrants in critical danger of deportation, an Advocacy Authorization form can be obtained from Congressman Mike Thompson’s office/website.

It can be submitted to his office or to Puertas Abiertas. Potter added that if ICE is at one’s front door claiming to be local police, the local police dispatch number (257-9223) can be called to confirm whether the local police are in fact at their door. Napa local police stressed the desire to partner with neighborhoods to create dialogue and openness.

If community members want to host a gathering of locals, they are happy to attend and talk to all people.

The panel was markedly diverse, with Karla Marquez (Dream Team Organizer), Gabriela Ramirez (Vice Principal of Napa Valley Language Academy, NVLA), Liliana Navarro (Latinos Unidos) and Melissa Patrino (Executive Director of Puertas Abiertas) sharing their raw stories and adversities they overcame. Alfredo Pedroza (Napa County Supervisor) and Jill Techel (Napa Mayor) stressed the need to create more dialogue and a community of problem solvers. Madeline Feldon (attorney for the International Institute of the Bay Area, IIBA) and Dr. Joseph Carrillo (local pediatrician) both discussed the stress and anxiety they have observed in children with undocumented family members.

They offered their respective legal and medical services to aid those in need.

Steve Potter (Napa Chief of Police) and John Robertson (Napa Sheriff) have increasingly taken a more active role in reaching out to the Latino population and being accessible at this critical time in our seemingly divided nation.

Harjit Khaira is a writer from Napa and a participant in the Women’s March.

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Urgent Appeal to Support Napa’s Immigrant Families

Many of Napa County’s immigrant families—documented and undocumented—a are IN CRISIS and are relying on Puertas Abiertas for help to achieve legal status. We have started a GoFundMe campaign to support immigrant familes in multiple ways.

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In 2017, Puertas Abiertas has committed and increased services to include immigration assistance and mental health and wellness programs. Our clients are finding themselves under great stress in this politically charged time. Their future in our community is uncertain.

“My three kids were granted Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and we hope their status won’t be in jeopardy with our new president. I cannot imagine how they will feel if they are forced to go back to being undocumented. Some families will be in a very difficult position because of their differing immigration status within the family and the cost of becoming documented. What will happen to our kids?” –Leonardo

The need is unprecedented. The more quickly we can help people achieve legal immigration status, the better!

Since the election, we are averaging three visits and calls PER DAY with clients asking for help with their immigration status including how to become a U.S. citizen, renewing a green card or applying for DACA protection for their children.

  • $725 will pay for an individual to apply for citizenship ($640 application fee + $85 background check). Many are eligible for citizenship that cannot afford the cost.
  • $425 will pay for a legal resident to renew their green card. Currently, legal immigrants need help to renew their status!
  • $495 will pay for a 2-year Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. Children are at risk of deportation because their families cannot afford the fees!

We have also received requests from women seeking counsel, financial assistance, and support as their husbands, fathers, brothers, and uncles have been abruptly deported. Left without a breadwinner, these women are left to pick up the pieces and raise their families alone, and are afraid of what’s to come.

  • $1500 will pay for emergency rent for a family in need due to sudden deportation.
  • $250 will buy food emergency for a family for two weeks.

To support our immigrant families, we have launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise funds to help eligible residents pursue legal status, and to support families impacted by deportation. Please help if you can! No amount is too small.

We don’t need to tell you that these are our friends and neighbors, our employees and landscapers and housekeepers, our children’ schoolmates that are in fear and at risk.

We urge you to show your support for our community!


Please join us in taking a stand to raise necessary funds to assist these individuals seeking assistance at Puertas Abiertas. Help us to help them. The time is now, our request for your support is urgent.

Together, we can support Latino residents in need that live, work, and contribute and to the community.

Since 2005, Puertas has been providing essential services for those in need.

  • In 2015, Puertas counseled over 1,700 people who required access to health care as well as social and educational services.
  • 94% of clients identify as Latino.
  • Immigrants in Napa County contribute over $1 billion to the local economy; however, 72 percent have an annual income of less than $25,000.
  • Only 30% of Napa County’s immigrants have become citizens. Citizenship is correlated with higher incomes, higher educational for children of immigrants, higher proficiency in English and more active engagement in community affairs.

About Puertas Abiertas
Puertas Abiertas Community Resource Center (PACRC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Napa that has been operating since 2005. The mission is to work hand in hand with Latinos to inspire and achieve healthy living, self-sufficiency, and opportunities for leadership and community engagement. The program model emphasizes community collaboration to facilitate access to service providers. The education programs and case mentoring activities help families move towards self-sufficiency and stability.

Our Center keeps its doors open for extended hours including weekends, and acts as an access point by families to services in the community. Culturally sensitive intake and mentoring activities help families determine the appropriate services needed, ease their access, and follow-up to ensure services were received.

Over 1700 families are served every year through on-site programs and referrals.

Puertas Abiertas received the 2013 Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year award by the Napa Chamber of Commerce.

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Puertas Abiertas


Puertas Abiertas (Open Doors) Community Resource Center works hand in hand with Latinos to inspire and achieve healthy living, self-sufficiency, and opportunities for leadership and community engagement.


The Napa Valley Community is a rich tapestry of traditions and cultures living in harmony with opportunity and respect for all.


On May 30th, Puertas Abiertas received the 2013 Outstanding Nonprofit of the Year Award by the Napa Chamber of Commerce and Mechanics Bank.

Puertas Abiertas was formed in 2004 by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church as Spirit of Unity in Napa with the goal to bridge the gap between service providers and the Latino community by bringing together resources and by providing culturally sensitive intake and guided referrals. In 2005, Puertas Abiertas became an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and in 2007 the Community Resource Center opened its doors on Napa Street. On average, over 600 families are served by Puertas Abiertas every year.

Our doors are open to anyone – regardless of race, ethnicity, language or creed. The goal of the programs at Puertas Abiertas is to empower families to make positive changes in their behaviors by accessing health and social services, improving education skills, becoming more engaged in the community, and by achieving self-sufficiency. In order to reach these goals, we adapt and realign services with partners (public, private and nonprofit sectors) to meet the most pressing needs of the underserved community in our county. Some of our programs include Case Mentoring, English as a Second Language (ESL), Free Tax Preparation, Civic Engagement, Mobile Mexican Passport/ID Clinic, Senior Support Group, College Readiness Program,  Basic Computer Skills and Plaza Comunitaria (Spanish literacy program). Over the course of the last 10 years of working in Napa County, Puertas Abiertas has built a strong and continually expanding network of partners. We joined efforts with other nonprofits in leading key initiatives including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA), Bank On Napa Valley, and Citizenship Legal Services among others.

We are really fortunate to do this work in a community like ours, and the 2013 Nonprofit of the Year Award inspires our dedicated team to continue working towards a healthier, stronger and more engaged community. For everyone who has believed, encouraged, donated, volunteered and supported our mission, our most sincere Thank You!

Visit our website for more details.

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