Junta For Progressive Action, a local immigration advocacy group, is moving forward with community outreach as its executive director prepares to step down.

Junta Executive Director Sandra Trevino faced criticism over the last few months for the firing of two Junta employees on “no reasonable grounds” during the summer, according to a petition on Change.org. The petition, which claims that Trevino was not in touch with the immigrant community, has garnered 200 signatures, prompting several members of Junta’s board of directors to step down. On Sept. 12, the Independent reported that Trevino  would step down in October.

Members of the New Haven immigrant community have expressed approval of her decision and said they hope that the next leader is hired from within the New Haven community.

“It would be very important for them to choose someone from around here who knows the community and the reality of the city and the state,” said John Lugo, an organizer for the local advocacy organization Unidad Latina en Acción. “I hope they make the right choice.”

Lugo added that he hopes to see more community members on Junta’s board of directors as well.

Jesus Morales, an organizer with ULA who has lived in New Haven for seven years, said Junta has played a key role in supporting and providing resources to immigrants in the Elm City, but he believes their work has suffered over the past year. He added that the two employees fired were leaders in the sanctuary and immigrant rights movements in the state.

The next executive director should be someone who truly understands the immigrant community in New Haven and the importance of empowering individuals to make their voices heard, Morales said. He added that he hopes Junta does not hire someone from out of state, as “the Fair Haven neighborhood is very different from a Latino neighborhood in Hartford, let alone Los Angeles or Chicago.”

Fatima Rojas, a New Haven resident whose children attend school in Fair Haven, said Junta has done a lot of positive work in providing services for the community and that she hopes to see their advocacy work continue. She echoed Morales and Lugo’s hopes for a local leader.

Sergio Ramirez, Community and Youth Organizer for Junta, said in an email that Junta remains committed to the struggle for equity and justice for the communities the organization serves. He added that Junta will continue to work closely with other community organizations and advocacy groups.

“Junta’s relationships with the broader community remain solid, especially as we seek to alleviate the suffering and seek to work with community partners in providing resources,” he said.

Ramirez said Junta is currently working with different community leaders and organizations to address the repeal of DACA. The group has paired DACA applicants with lawyers for free DACA renewals and helped pay for shipping fees.

Junta’s board of directors could not be reached for comment on the search for a new executive director.

Sara Tabin sara.tabin@yale.edu