Identify | Julian Lucas
As the promised land progresses and evolves, so does the meaning of prospering for the next generation of Americans and undocumented Americans. Ericka Flores can be defined as an ambitious individual by having faced many difficult times throughout her life. As many would want to define someone who is undocumented, Ericka refuses to allow the ignorant and ill-mannered to define her. Ms. Flores has reached a goal that she has been striving for and will not give up until she fulfills her mission.
At what point in your life did you decide you wanted to go to law school? What was the turning point? How do your parents feel about your success? What were their thoughts and feelings?
I decided to go to law school while I was completing my undergrad education. The turning point were all the years of community organizing and witnessing various injustices in my community, family and personal life due to our socioeconomic background and location of where we live. I became an advocate for my family and community members, but with time, I recognized knowing pieces of the law was helpful in my organizing.
What will you do with your law degree?
I intend to use to continue to serve disenfranchised and overlooked communities who need immediate assistance and advocacy.
You are a fighter for the disfranchised communities within the Inland Empire. In specific, which communities have you rallied for? Is there a disconnect between lawmakers and community members within the Inland Empire?
I have worked with Environmental Justice communities and for years have rallied on behalf of the immigrant community and worked to elevate the social justice movements assuring that we are doing inter-sectional work that represents all those who find themselves affected by an unjust system.
I would say most definitely, although we have some leaders who are intentionally working to close some of these gaps. However, we still see lack of proper representation within the Inland Empire when it comes to fully encompassing the needs community on the ground needs. Some of our local lawmakers fail to address these immediate needs.
You have been through many trials and tribulations throughout your life. Many people would give up and not know how to, or not want to continue to succeed. What makes you want to continue to strive?
Ah, I get this question asked all of the time...I really don’t know. I think being the daughter of an immigrant woman who overcame so many adversities herself in search of a better life reminds me that I was meant to do more, not only for myself but also for others. I am a firm believer that we deserve better- my community deserves better, my town deserves better, I deserve better. But, these improvements are not just going to be given to us; we must go out there and take them or contribute to making pathways to reach living under better conditions.
What do you say to those who speak negatively about you being undocumented and going to law school?
I do not pay attention to them one bit. Getting into law school is not easy and I have learned to not take criticism from those who I wouldn’t seek advice from.
Many people fear exposing their legal status. What would you want to share to someone about your experience being undocumented?
Being undocumented does not define who I am- that’s what this administration is aiming to do but we must continue to resist. Immigrants, specifically undocumented people, are who carry this economy and country on its back. Undocumented people have to work twice or triple as hard to get to the results we want and even with that hard work, we still experience other setbacks. Despite of this, there is so much beauty born out of the resiliency each undocumented individual displays in order to thrive and survive.
What are your feelings about ice and raids?
ICE should be abolished and we’ve survived before it was created. We don’t need it and only serve to further terrorize our immigrant community.. They (ICE) perpetuate raids which are traps to strengthen the current deportation machine that targets hardworking immigrant people.
With that said would you feel ICE discriminates on who they target?
AbsoFUCKINGlutely! They intentionally discriminate and targets our community and they constantly coordinate their efforts with local police to further their racist and discriminatory efforts. #abolishice
We all have seen the Inland Empire grow which can be largely due to the gentrification of Los Angeles and other surrounding cities. What are your thoughts about this phenomenon?
Gentrification historically has been known to unjustly and unequivocally displace economically vulnerable community members and has a direct impact on communities of color. Lack of affordable housing, being one byproduct of gentrification, has led to the rapid growth in population the Inland Empire has experience. As an IE resident, we welcome and embrace anyone coming from LA, or other places, to live and thrive in this region but I would hope that it was not at the cost of forced local migration which is the crude reality.
Can you explain DACA to us?
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) is a temporary program, which provides a work permit and is supposed to protect some undocumented individuals from deportation (does not always protect us in this manner). To qualify for DACA, one must be under the age of 31 upon applying, have no criminal record and prove matriculation in a US school for a certain amount of years. DACA must be renewed every 2 years at a cost of a few hundred dollars and is in jeopardy given the current administration.
Given the current climate of our immigration issues and the current leadership, what are your fears?
I have no fears- I gave that up a long time ago. My goal right now is to help protect others who are experiencing fear and remind them that they are not alone; there is a whole loving community supporting them ready to fight on their/our behalf.
What advice would you give young people who may feel like law school isn’t attainable?
It is attainable if they want it. It will not be easy but we belong in those spaces too. My advice is to not give up on the first attempt. Try and fight until you get in and surround yourself with people who will encourage you and point you into the right direction.
What advice would you give to young women in general?
That women are magic. Women make things happen and are the hardest workers in the room- always. To any young woman reading this I would say to be brave and try doing things that challenge you. Surround with other women you admire and talk with them, ask them about their journey and surround yourself with powerful femmetors You got this!
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