Berkeley Lab

Celebrating Latin American Heritage Month & Supporting our DACA Community

Dear Colleagues,

Each year between September 15 and October 15, Berkeley Lab celebrates Latin American Heritage Month, paying tribute to the generations of Latin Americans who have influenced our Lab’s culture and enriched our nation and society. In his recent Presidential Proclamation, President Biden wrote, “Since the beginning, our country has drawn strength and insights from Hispanic writers, scientists, soldiers, doctors, entrepreneurs, academics, and leaders in labor and government. Our culture has been enriched by the rhythms, art, literature, and creativity of Hispanic peoples. All of these contributions help us realize the promise of America for all Americans.” 

This year, our Latin American and Native American Employee Resource Group (LANA) hung the Latin American Heritage Month banner near Blackberry Gate, hosted a series of drop-in coffee hours, and invited Dr. Cecilia Aragon, a former Lab staff scientist, to speak about her career in aviation, astrophysics, and data science. LANA also hosted a discussion with two DACA recipients about their daily experiences and the impact of the program on their lives. 

For the first time, LANA and the Lab’s Government & Community Relations Office are teaming up to participate in the Día de Los Muertos Festival in Oakland. If you are interested in supporting the event, you can sign up through the Berkeley Lab volunteer website. 

Now, more than ever, it is imperative that we support and increase the visibility and safety of the members of our community who are most vulnerable. Last Thursday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s decision in the State of Texas, et al., v. United States (2021), a case that challenged the long-term legality of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Recognizing the profound significance of the decision to DACA recipients, the three-judge panel allowed the current program to stay in place while the case goes back to the lower court for further adjudication. Accordingly, anyone who currently has DACA protection from removal or work authorization may still renew their applications. Consistent with that stay, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will process DACA renewal requests, but no first time applicants will move forward. We have reached out to those in our community who are affected to provide assistance. 

We join California’s public universities and colleges — who recently issued this joint statement — in supporting permanent pathways to citizenship so that Californians from all backgrounds can pursue their academic and professional goals.

Achieving our Lab’s mission relies on the ideas and efforts of all of us,  and we are grateful to each of you for ensuring that everyone at Berkeley Lab has an opportunity to contribute.   

Best regards,

Mike Witherell, Laboratory Director

Carol Burns, Deputy Director for Research and CRO

Michael Brandt, Deputy Director for Operations and COO