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Youth Activists Tell Their Stories

Today, 17 activists, four of whom were minors, visited the offices of Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Eric Cantor, and Speaker John Boehner to demand that they put an end to family separation by bringing immigration reform to a vote in the House.

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Unfortunately, Mr. McCarthy locked out our young activists, refusing to let in even his own constituents. So they were forced to send him their messages by way of the mail slot.

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Those visiting Rep. Cantor’s office were let in, but Mr. Cantor was out of the office so activists spoke with his staff. Young leaders told their family stories of separation and asked staff to pass on the importance of passing immigration reform to the congressman.

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All of the activists then converged on the office of Speaker John Boehner. His office was locked as well, and the activists sat down in the hallway outside the Speaker’s door, holding hands and chanting until Capitol Police handcuffed them and took them away one by one.

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The youngest arrestee was 12-year-old Esteban, who is here today with his mother fighting for his undocumented stepfather. Esteban and his four younger siblings have experienced the pain of deportation first-hand. About a year ago, Esteban’s father was deported, and Esteban says he does not want other kids to have to go through the same pain he went through.

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Below, Esteban and some of the other young activists from today’s action tell their stories and talk about why they are here today.

Esteban, age 12:

Ashley, age 18

Hector, age 15

Brian, age 22

For more photos from today’s event, click here to follow us on Facebook.

House Republicans: Our Deadline is August 2nd

11As House Republicans debate whether or not they will act on immigration reform, they should remember the deadline of Aug. 2nd that the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (FIRM) has set for the House to pass a bill containing a pathway to citizenship.

Until then, and if House GOP members decide to ignore the deadline, FIRM will continue to support actions such as driving calls to Congress, sending emails and petitions, holding rallies, town hall meetings, the works. We will remind any lawmaker who votes against immigration reform that our political power will be unleashed against them come election time.

So I hope House Republicans use their summer wisely and act in a bipartisan manner, like the Senate did, to craft an immigration reform bill that contains a pathway to citizenship and keeps families together. And act quickly to make the Aug. 2nd deadline. If not, we will make sure they hear our voices during their summer recess period.

 

The Fight Continues

Last Thursday, the Senate voted to pass the bill 68-32, and focus shifted to the House of Representatives as they work on their version of the bill. It has been a long journey since the bill was dropped on the Senate floor, and there are lots of rallies, marching and pro-immigration activities have been done during the journey. The day before the Senate’s final vote on the bill, another impressive march took place at the Capitol.

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It was extremely hot and humid last Wednesday, and most people on the street just wanted to get into air conditioned rooms as soon as possible. But 300 immigrant families marched the opposite way – to the open air where they could be heard by all at the Capitol, urging the Senate and the House to pass comprehensive immigration reform.

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After an hour, people started marching towards the House building and the Republican National Committee (RNC) building. The sky was getting cloudy and dark soon after we started the march, but no one had any hesitation. We got support from faith allies including leaders from Nuns on the Bus and the Church World Service, who joined us for the rally.

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“ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, NO MORE INJUSTICE!” people chanted in front of the RNC building. Faith leaders gave several powerful and impressive speeches and sprinkled holy water on the steps of the RNC.  Soon after, it started to rain, but the rain didn’t stop the marchers.

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One of the things that impressed me the most was that not only strong and young people attended the rally, but that even in the extreme heat and the rain, little children and elderly people who could barely speak English were also marching and shouting along with the crowd to urge the Senate and the House to pass the immigration reform bill.

Even though the bill has now passed in the Senate, there are still dangerous roadblocks ahead that could obstruct the 11 million undocumented people living in the United States from gaining a pathway to citizenship. We know that we have a long road ahead of us in the House before a just, comprehensive, humane immigration reform bill is signed into law, but we plan to keep up the fight until it happens.

Will you join us?

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