President Trump is talking tough on immigration in Washington, but there is a much different mood here in the desert.The Training Occupational Development Education Community or TODEC is known for educating undocumented immigrants of their rights but the organization is quickly gaining a reputation for offering something more. Hope.
"It’s amazing. I can’t stop laughing and crying at the same time," said Coachella resident Gloria Garcia.
TODEC provides undocumented immigrants legal council, information on undocumented immigrants’ rights in the united states and help with applying for citizenship.
"It’s a great service because we can help them qualify. If they are low income, they don’t have to pay a single nickel," said Maricela Magana, a community organizer for TODEC.
The organization also works with law enforcement to clear up common misconceptions held by the immigrant community.
"We’ve had few situations where we have responded to calls for service and folks did not want to speak to us because they’re concerned that we’re going to deport them if they tell us that they are illegal," said Coachella Assistant Chief of Police Misty Reynolds. " We just wanted to reassure them that we are still here to protect and to serve them,"
At one point in her life Garcia had little hope for the future and fell on hard times.
"I went down the wrong path. I started using drugs and then I got into a program where they helped me recover from my drug habit," Garcia said.
When Garcia heard how TODEC was helping undocumented immigrants, she decided to give it a go.
"I came here because I saw the news that they were giving programs for citizenship," Garcia said.
Garcia desperately yearned for to become a citizen but thought it was out reach. When she came to TODEC’s new location in Coachella, she was stunned by what they told her. TODEC would help her gain citizenship free of charge, saving her 750 dollars.
"It’s a blessing because you would never think. You know? People like me," Garcia said through tears.
The new TODEC location in Coachella is open Monday through Friday from 9 AM to 5 PM and on Saturdays from 10 AM to 12 PM.