Josue De Luna Navarro: Creating pathways to citizenship and to seats at the decision making table

Evaluation Lab News

Posted: Dec 13, 2021 - 12:00am

You know the saying, not being political is a privilege that many people do not have? Josue De Luna Navarro, is living proof of that. With a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering he never planned to work in policy, let alone receive the honor of being an Associate Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC, but because of his own social reality as an immigrant and the daily work of needing to be familiar enough with policies in order to exist day to day, he is now deeply entrenched in policy work: hoping to make other immigrants’ lives, and their paths to citizenship, easier in this country.

Mr. De Luna Navarro has his hat in many policy rings but they all revolve around immigration, the climate crisis and empowering immigrant youth to be the leaders in their own communities. After coming to New Mexico from Mexico as a child, Mr. De Luna Navarro experienced firsthand how policies impact every level of life in immigrant communities. Growing up he saw that when someone was in power that had pro-immigrant policies that was good for his family, they could work and live in peace without the constant fear of deportation.

However, when anti-immigration policies were ascendent, suddenly his family had to constantly be on guard and they had to find a way to exist in the shadows. Mr. De Luna Navarro realized that these political decisions had a huge impact on, not only on his family’s everyday life, but the overall health of his entire community. When he got involved in social justice, he learned the power of his own lived experience: “Our communities hold the solutions to the problems that they are facing – we don’t need a politician or a scholar – people in the community will have the solutions.” This is why community organizing is Mr. De Luna Navarro’s passion, because he knows that the community members are the experts, they have lived with the issue and they have the ideas on how to fix it.

Mr. De Luna Navarro focuses most of his policy work on the link between the climate crisis and immigration. Every day he encounters people who were forced to leave their home countries because of worsening conditions caused by climate change. He explains that the narrative among generations of immigrants is changing; it has always been social factors that are tied into policies between the US and Latin America, but now they involve the climate crisis as well.

When asked about the future of working in climate, Mr. De Luna Navarro is not pessimistic, but he explained that it is frustrating at times because the people with the power to make real changes have never had to live with climate disasters and feel their impact. But, when he is talking to young people that look like him and that have felt the urgency of the climate crisis, he feels hope, and that as long as we can create paths to get those young people to the decision making table, then he is optimistic about our future.