Bicentennial Interview With Make The Road’s Sonia Hernandez–Immigrant Family Support, Language Justice, Police Reform

Sonia Hernandez is an organizer with Make the Road Connecticut, an action group in support of immigrant families. She’s been at the forefront of city issues such as safer school walking routes, language translation access and police policy reforms.

Sonia was born in Honduras and migrated to the United States in 2002. She lived in New York for 14 years where her activism started. She joined the New Sanctuary Coalition in NY, attended rallies and was trained to do court accompaniment to support individuals with open immigration cases.

She moved to Bridgeport in 2018 and her children entered public schools where she encountered a lack of interpreters. She joined Make The Road CT’s Madres en Acción parent committee in Bridgeport to fight for language justice.

Sonia is the latest OIB interview commemorating Bridgeport’s Bicentennial.

Q. What is your first memory of Bridgeport?
A. I was living in NY then I moved over here to Bpt. First impression, I loved the place where I was living with my family, liked my neighborhood on the East Side. My first impression, I fell in love with my house.

Q. What are your ties to Bpt., and what do you do, either work or volunteer work, that benefits the city and its residents?
A. I am from Honduras. I came to this country almost 19 years ago and I was a volunteer with Make the Road, I love the work they do supporting undocumented communities. We fight injustice. I didn’t have the option to choose where my kids went to school, so that school was not welcome to everyone. We felt discriminated against. Parents meetings, they didn’t have translators. That was one of my concerns. I got involved as a volunteer to learn a little bit more, to have better communication between parents and teachers. We did win a demand that they have to provide translators to everybody. Now when you go they say we have interpreters. That was an impressive change.

Q. What do you like best about Bridgeport?
A. My experience of what it’s like to be an immigrant, and how the community got together to support us. How the community is powerful and supporting the children, and how we want to a make changes in our own community to make life better.

Q. Where is your favorite spot in the city to visit and why?
A. One of my favorite is going to Seaside Park, we love going for walks there with our small dog. We lived an hour from the ocean in Honduras but Seaside is 10 minutes away.

Q. What’s your favorite Bridgeport eatery and what do you like there?
A. I love the nachos at all the Mexican restaurants. They are all good. In Bridgeport, we love going to La Flor bakery (on Park Avenue) and Mexican restaurant Azteca (on Pequonnock Street) is a market and now they have a restaurant too. Mi Rancho (on Fairfield Avenue) is also good.

Q. Where  do you see the city going?
A. In the future, there is a lot happening, more buildings. Hoping we can have a better place for our families. We need to try to stop miscommunication with police and the Latino community.

Q. If you had a magic wand and could make a miracle happen for the city, what would it be?
A. I would want a place for everybody to feel welcome, especially more resources from other communities, more support for our youth. Expanded education too, to go to college.  Gather together as one family of Bridgeport residents to make a better place for our families.


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