Our Work

C.A.N. opens up new terrains for thought and action that is in line with decolonial feminist principles. Our work resists the consequences of the theft of lands, the enslavement of millions of people, and the ongoing violence of hetero-patriarchy.  C.A.N. centers the voices, stories, and existences of those made most invisible. C.A.N. transforms ideas and methods to advocate for justice within existing political systems, asserting our right to equity.
"You're doing it.
[C.A.N.] is already doing the work. Keep going."

- Dr. Angela Davis

Civil Rights Activist, Author, Professor

What we've done.



For more than eight years, C.A.N. activists have been leading the charge in the immigrant rights movement.

→ In May 2023, Director of Policy and Advocacy, Melanie Cruz-Morales, and Executive Director, Sheila Cruz-Morales, held an exclusive meeting with senior officials of the Biden-Harris Administration at the West Wing of The White House. During this meeting, the Cruz-Morales twins advocated for transformative policies aimed at integrating DACA professionals and undocumented immigrants into all sectors of American society to tackle the xenophobic agenda that is plaguing our communities. 

→ C.A.N.’s team has contributed to and spearheaded policy campaigns that center Immigrant communities and has successfully achieved their passage. Campaigns include: Drivers Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants in New Jersey, The NJ Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, The D.C. Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, The Language Access Bill, and The Data Disaggregation Bill.

→ In October 2022, Sheila Cruz-Morales took a decisive stance by addressing President Biden directly, holding him accountable for the campaign promises he made regarding immigration reform. In an assertive manner, Sheila demanded, directly to the President of the United States, the swift passage of comprehensive immigration reform that encompasses the contributions of all +12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States. 

→ C.A.N. has raised $10,000 through mutual aid, grants, and generous donations to support DACA recipients in renewing their status. This funding safeguards recipients from deportation, enables education, and lawful employment. Please donate to help us continue this initiative.

→ Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Melanie and Sheila Cruz-Morales became prominent advocates in the United States, using their personal stories to raise national awareness and advocate for justice for the undocumented immigrants population, who were disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
In May 2020, the Cruz-Morales shared their story on The Daily (NYT) Podcast, reaching over 2 million listeners, educating the world on factors like fear of deportation, limited healthcare access, and quarantine challenges faced by undocumented populations. Melanie and Sheila pushed for inclusive healthcare policies regardless of citizenship and the immediate pathway to citizenship for all immigrants who were essential in keeping the country running through the pandemic.  

→ Since the New Jersey Alternative Financial Aid Application was introduced, C.A.N. has organized multiple workshops and individual sessions with immigrant parents and students. These sessions aim to educate participants about the process of completing state aid documents.

Our key demands include a clear pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants residing in the United States, an end to family separation, and the closure of ICE detention centers. We oppose the construction of divisive and violent walls. Additionally, we assert the right of all individuals to seek asylum and reject policies that criminalize those fleeing violence and persecution. We envision a world where movement is not restricted by artificial boundaries, where all people are free to live and thrive without fear of discrimination or persecution based on their immigration status.



→ Our mentorship program at C.A.N., currently guides and supports a cohort of diverse students through various stages of their educational journey. Whether assisting with college applications or providing ongoing support during their transition to college, our mentors are dedicated to navigating the unique challenges faced by students from marginalized backgrounds, those who are first-generation, and undocumented. Recognizing the profound isolation, barriers, and culture shocks that can be inherent in the college experience for these individuals, we strive to be a steadfast source of motivation, advice, and support.

Our mentors work closely with each student, fostering a sense of belonging and empowerment as they navigate the complexities of both college life and student life. Through personalized guidance, we aim to inspire and empower students to overcome challenges, achieve their academic goals, and thrive in their educational pursuits.

→ Currently we are serving 15 students and will announce when we are open for the next college application cycle.

By championing education, we aim to empower individuals to break free from limitations, unlock their full potential, and contribute meaningfully to a society where opportunities are accessible to all.

→ At College Access for Non-Citizens, we firmly believe that education is a powerful tool for liberation, and we are committed to the conviction that every human deserves access to it. We recognize that higher education may not be the path for everyone, we stand firm in the belief that individuals deserve the opportunity to expand their curiosity, ignite their creativity, and pursue their passions through education. We are aware that educational institutions will not save us, but we believe that each and every one of us are entitled to utilize the resources the world offers.

Our advocacy for education stems from the belief that it has the transformative potential to liberate individuals when infused with character. We see education as more than a pathway to degrees—it is a means to cultivate a well-rounded character, fostering intellectual curiosity, creativity, and passion in every learner.

Free Palestine


CAN is unequivocally in support of a permanent ceasefire, a release of all hostages and political prisoners, and a full stop to the occupation. The catastrophe that is taking place in Gaza today is a Genocide and ethnic cleansing that has been an ongoing process of +75 years. As an Indigenous-Led organization, our heart breaks as the Indigenous people of Palestine are being killed, displaced, and assaulted.

→ For the past three years, CAN activists have marched along-side our Palestinian relatives in the struggle for their self-determination, sovereignty, and the return to their homelands.

→ Most recently, our team members organized a protest outside the New Jersey State House in demand of a ceasefire resolution from the New Jersey legislature. Erik Cruz-Morales led this initiative and moderated the event.

→ We know that the liberation of undocumented immigrants is not possible without the liberation of Palestinians.

Reproductive Rights


→ On October 18, 2022, Melanie and Sheila Cruz-Morales participated in a significant Pro-Choice event hosted by The White House, recognizing their advocacy for Indigenous and Latina women. The event aimed to bolster President Biden's push for the codification of Roe v. Wade. Standing on stage, Melanie and Sheila championed Indigenous, Black, women of color, trans individuals, and rape survivors as the President addressed the nation following the overturn of Roe v. Wade.

→ Since then, Melanie and Sheila continue to advocate in strong support for pro-choice abortion ballot initiatives occurring throughout the nation. At C.A.N., they continue to raise awareness on the significance of bodily autonomy and reproductive justice for all human beings, with key focus on the disproportionate violent experience of colonized and racialized women.

We firmly advocate for the fundamental right of individuals to make their own healthcare decisions, including the right to access safe and legal abortion care.  It is imperative to acknowledge that trans men and non-binary individuals also require access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare, including abortion services. Their experiences and needs must be affirmed and respected within the broader discourse on reproductive rights and justice.

Furthermore, as decolonial feminists, we seek a world where we end sexism, sexual violence, and gender subjugation and domination. We unequivocally condemn all forms of gendered violence as abhorrent violations of human rights and dignity. Gendered violence, whether physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual, inflicts profound harm on individuals and communities, perpetuating cycles of trauma, fear, and injustice.

Gun Violence


→ In March 2018, Melanie and Sheila organized a protest advocating for gun reform that drew over 1,200 students. Their passionate activism captured the attention of U.S. Senator Cory Booker, who personally invited the Cruz-Morales twins to a crucial meeting to discuss gun reform. During this meeting, they fervently expressed the urgent need for legislation to strengthen gun safety measures, called for a ban on assault rifles, and initiated discussions on essential school policy enhancements for improved student safety.

→ In April 2018, Governor Phil Murphy recognized Melanie and Sheila's advocacy for gun control and student safety at Teaneck High School. Impressed by their leadership, Governor Murphy commended the twins and invited them to the signing event of the Diane B. Allen Equal Pay Bill. At the bill signing, the Cruz-Morales twins advocacy was highlighted by Governor Murphy, before the esteemed members of the New Jersey Legislature. They received a standing ovation in recognition for their outstanding efforts in championing gun control and encouraging positive civic engagement.

The prevalence of gun violence in the U.S. poses a significant threat to public safety and undermines the fundamental right to life and security. Gen-Zers like us have experienced impactful training on school shootings, underscoring the urgent need for change. C.A.N. strongly supports collaborative efforts to implement public safety measures that can protect our communities from the devastating impact of gun violence.



As young advocates for a sustainable future, we're deeply troubled by the climate crisis already unfolding. We understand its existential threat and the pressing need for action. Climate change isn't just a scientific issue; it's a profound injustice that hits marginalized communities hardest, worsening inequalities and jeopardizing livelihoods worldwide.

At the core of our advocacy lies a steadfast commitment to Indigenous sovereignty as a vital tool for climate mitigation and adaptation. Indigenous peoples, stewards of the land for generations, hold invaluable knowledge to navigate climate challenges. By honoring indigenous rights, embracing traditional ecological wisdom, and amplifying indigenous voices in decision-making, we pave the way for environmental justice and sustainability.

We're keenly aware of the looming crisis of climate-induced migration as rising sea levels, extreme weather, and environmental degradation render regions uninhabitable. Recognizing the link between climate change and migration, we push for policies prioritizing the rights and dignity of climate refugees, offering support to those displaced by environmental disasters. We raise awareness on the intersection of migration and climate to our social media audiences.  

"As a professor and strong advocate for civic engagement of young people, I am extremely proud of the Cruz-Morales sisters. They are extraordinary women and a shining example of women who dare to make a difference."

- Donna Brazile

Veteran Political Strategist, New York Times Best Selling Author

College Access for Non-citizens is a non-partisan, grassroots, youth-led nonprofit organization (501(c)(3)), committed to dismantling barriers in higher education.